The prologue also reveals that Luke wrote his Gospel after "many" others had already composed such accounts (ch 1:1). He himself was not an eyewitness to the life and ministry of the Lord, but received much of his information from people who were eyewitnesses (v 2). He had thoroughly investigated all sources of information to which he had access, written and oral alike, and it was his purpose to preserve this record "in order" (v 3). One of his stated objectives in writing was to provide his friend Theophilus, apparently a Gentile convert to Christianity, with a thoroughly reliable account of the life and teachings of Jesus (v 4). There is no way of telling whether Luke includes Matthew and Mark in this reference to the "many" who had already "taken in hand to set forth in order" the facts of the gospel narrative. It is generally believed, however, that the Gospel of Mark, at least, and possibly Matthew, were already in circulation. But "many" clearly implies more than 2, and it would therefore seem that other records of the gospel story, since lost, had already been composed. For the relationship between Luke on the one hand and Matthew and Mark on the other see Mark, Gospel of. The fact that Luke does not claim to be an eyewitness himself, but frankly acknowledges his indebtedness to others, speaks well of him as a careful, accurate historian, and implies that, in his case, inspiration is not so much a matter of imparting original information as it is a guarantee of the accuracy of what he records. As a historian he went to the original sources, but he was, as well, an inspired historian. Alone among the Gospel writers, Luke provides a chronological framework correlating the events of Christ's life with the events of contemporary history (see 2:1, 2; 3:1, 2). According to Christ's Object Lessons, 4:14, Luke was a physician as well as a man of letters. Elaborate lists of Luke's supposed medical vocabulary have been compiled. Certain of these, it is true, reflect a physician's training and point of view (compare Lk 4:38; 5:12; 8:43 with the parallel narratives in Matthew and Mark; see Gospels, Harmony of). But many of the words and expressions cited as medical terms were also in general use, and their occurrence in the Gospel cannot be taken as absolute proof that the author was a physician.
As already noted, Luke offers his gospel narrative as an accurate, thorough, and systematic presentation of the story of Jesus' life and ministry. Whereas Matthew emphasises what Jesus taught, and Mark what Jesus did, Luke combines both elements in a more complete and systematic way than either of the other Synoptic writers. His claim to a "perfect understanding of all things from the very first" (Lk 1:3) is no idle boast, since nearly one fourth of the known incidents of the gospel narrative appear only in Luke. Two areas of the life and ministry of Jesus that Luke covers rather fully, but which are mentioned briefly or not at all by the other Gospel writers, are the period of infancy and childhood and the extensive ministry in Samaria and Perea during the 6 months preceding the last Passover (chs 1; 2; 9:51 to 19:10). Luke alone records the circumstances surrounding the birth of John the Baptist (ch 1:5 25, 57 80), the annunciation to Mary and Mary's visit to Elizabeth (ch 1:26 56), the birth of Jesus (ch 2:1 7), the announcement to the shepherds (vs. 8 20), the circumcision and presentation in the Temple (vs. 21 38), Jesus' 1st Passover visit (vs. 41 50), and His youth and young manhood (vs. 51, 52). Similarly, Luke alone records Jesus' 1st visit to Nazareth at the beginning of the Galilean ministry, and His rejection there (ch 4:16 30). Were it not for Luke we would have no knowledge whatever of Jesus' extensive ministry in Samaria and Perea (chs 9:51 to 19:10). Perhaps in an endeavour to explain to non-Jewish readers how Jesus could have been rejected by the leaders of His own nation and yet be in truth the promised Messiah, Luke traces Jesus' ancestry back to Adam (Lk 3:23 38), the father of the race, thus implying that He was the Saviour of all men, and not only of the Jews. Matthew, on the other hand, is content to trace Jesus' genealogy back to Abraham and let the matter rest there. Luke also takes a consistent interest in Jesus' personal ministry for non-Jews (see chs 7:1 10; 8:26 39), and he alone records the mission of the Seventy in Samaria (chs 9:51 to 10:20) and relates the parable of the Good Samaritan. In Luke there is scarcely a trace of the Jewish particularism and exclusiveness that may occasionally be detected in Matthew and Mark.
The first 2 chapters are devoted to Jesus' infancy and youth. Like the other Synoptic writers, Luke passes over the early ministry of Jesus from His baptism and the 1st Passover and His ministry in Judea to the 2nd Passover. He develops the Galilean ministry, to the 3rd Passover, at considerable length (chs 4:14 to 9:17), as do Matthew and Mark. In dealing with the period of Jesus' retirement from public ministry to the Feast of Tabernacles 6 months later, Luke omits a number of incidents that Matthew and Mark record (see Lk 9:18 43). As already mentioned, he deals with the Samarian-Perean ministry at great length (chs 9:51 to 19:10), as he also does with the events clustering around the last week of Christ's earthly ministry, at the 4th Passover (chs 19:28 to 23:56). Like the other Gospel writers, he deals, finally, at some length with events of the post-resurrection period (ch 24).
Horn, Siegfried H., Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary, (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association) 1979.