First John 2:6 states, "Whoever says he abides in him [Jesus] ought to walk in the same way in which he walked." When one reads through the Gospel of Luke, one finds Christ preaching the Kingdom of God and showing sympathy for the outcasts of society. As believers, we should strive to follow that example.
Today believers seem to be confused on many fronts. The following questions often arise in Sunday school and Bible study discussions: "What is the kingdom of God?" "Is it already here?" "What can we do to show compassion for the poor?" This thesis will seek to clarify some of these questions and help people in the church to develop a better understanding of Jesus' teaching on the Kingdom. It is also designed to stir their concern for the poor in keeping with Jesus' practice. Ronald Sider writes, "One of the most common themes in the Scriptures is that God and his faithful people have a special concern for the poor."1 Unfortunately, many American believers are not considerate of the poor in spite of the above-noted Lukan emphasis on this issue.
Before the aspects listed above can be discussed, an introduction to and definition of New Testament theology will need to be provided (chapter one). Once a definition is established, the problems that arise when doing New Testament theology are addressed. In his text Theology of the New Testament, Frank Thielman elaborates on how an unhealthy blend of systematic issues and history can pose a problem, and he goes on to explain that the diversity within the New Testament can also be problematic. 2 Issues such as these, and others that various scholars have noted, are also evaluated in this chapter.
Following the discussion of the introductory material related to New Testament theology, the state of research concerning Luke, our first Christian historian, is investigated. Other biographical information regarding Luke is also addressed. The authorship, and other matters like audience and date, are also dealt with in chapter one.
Chapter two is devoted to the study of the "kingdom of God." This topic is widely studied and scholarly opinions about its definition vary. Part of the problem stems from the fact that Jesus never defined the kingdom; he only described it. In this chapter the conclusions of historical and modern New Testament scholars concerning the kingdom are analyzed, and the use of the phrase in the Gospels is examined as well. Additionally, a description of the phrase and the significance of Jesus' preaching of the "kingdom" is discussed.
William Barclay has called Luke "the Gospel of the underdog" because of its portrayal of Jesus as friends with the outcast, poor, and sinners of society.3 Jesus spent much of his time teaching about the rich and poor, therefore what he had to say about the topic is of utmost importance to us as believers. In this third chapter. Jesus' teaching on the poor and his attitude toward them is the subject of investigation.
Along with Jesus' teaching and interaction with the poor, God's concern for the poor and outcast in the Old Testament is also noted in chapter three. A section providing historical background information on the poor during second Temple Judaism is included, along with an examination of the major passages related to the poor in Luke.
The relationship between Jesus and several other groups of individuals of low status in society is explored in chapter four. Such groups include: women, sinners, and tax-collectors. Just as in chapter three, the existence of these groups is traced in various passages throughout Luke's account.
Chapter five summarizes the conclusions of the thesis. The modern-day application of these Lukan motifs is addressed as well, specifically, how these aspects of Luke's account contribute to our understanding of the Kingdom of God and our concern for the outcast of society.
1Ronald J. Sider, The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005), 22. 2Frank Thielman, Theology of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 19. 3William Barclay, “The Gospel of Luke,” The Daily Bible Study Series (Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press, 1975), 1.