The Ethic of the Community in Luke’s Gospel

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For the sake of this study, Luke’s Gospel plays an important role in establishing the identity of the members of the community. Indeed, “without Luke’s Gospel our visual images of the Christian story would be impoverished” because “Luke’s Gospel [can be considered] the aesthetic teacher of Christian senses in hearing and speech through story and song and in sight through the many artistic renderings of his stories.” Luke accomplishes this feat by using cultural conventions surrounding hospitality and banqueting to “illustrate such important facets of Jesus’ teaching as generosity to the poor, forgiveness of sinners, humility rather than social power, and the priority given to the word of God.”

The importance of community is established early in Luke’s Gospel as it becomes evident that God’s intention is the formation of a people and not the salvation of individuals. Gabriel’s proclamation regarding the birth of John the Baptist to Elizabeth is that his mission would be “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Lk 1:17) and Mary’s Magnificat seems to have the salvation of Israel as its primary focus. The disciples that Jesus had accumulated during his ministry would become the “nucleus” of the new people who would ultimately recognize him as king when he enters Jerusalem (Lk. 19:37). However, it’s not until the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost (Ac. 2) that this new community becomes more easily identified.

Community in Luke’s Gospel is also colored by the introduction in which Theophilus (“loved by God”) was called “most excellent” (kariste). This term was commonly used to refer to the Roman equestrian class who were members of the wealthy aristocracy below the patricians, but above the populous. Perkins argu...

... middle of paper ... then balanced by to two positive injunctions (forgive, and give).[Nolland, 300] The reality is that no person would be able to survive God’s scrutiny without mercy (v. 36). Therefore, we are to forgive and to give (v. 38). Forgiveness is the forfeiture of a right to demand restitution for a wrong. Not only are disciples called to this forgiveness, but they are also called to offer “openhanded generosity to the other person.”[Nolland, 301] This generosity is fueled by a reliance upon God’s “superabundant generosity” which will cause an overflowing into the disciple’s lap.[Nolland, 301] This is agrarian imagery of fulfilling grain contracts which by filling bags (and aprons, in this case) with grain. Durint this process, the imagery is that of grain overflowing even though it’s already been pressed down to fit as much in the receptacle as possible.[Nolland, 301]
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