I’m not sure what the best way to approach this is going to be. Verse by verse exposition or taking larger sections and giving the overall force of the passage? I guess in a real commentary doing both is ideal. I think what I’ll do is make an attempt at summaries of sections with some comments about specific things in the text where I think helpful.
Ok, let’s dive in.
The overall intent of these verses is plain enough. Luke has taken up the task of writing his gospel after surveying what others have done (possibly including Mark and Matthew) and determining that there may be need for an “orderly account” of Jesus’ life, ministry, teaching, death, and resurrection. “Orderly account” doesn’t have to mean that his is more factually correct than other gospel accounts. Naturally, this taps into a much larger and complicated discussion of what is “correct.” In what sense does Christian biography (which the gospels seem to be a form of) need to be factually true in order to be “the truth.”
Luke does seem to have a tendency to include more information than the other gospels (it is the longest of the four). However, I tend to view the “orderly account” as being an explanation for how the Jesus movement went from a Jewish thing to a Jewish-plus-Gentile thing.
We also learn from these opening words (v.2) that Luke wasn’t an eyewitness of Jesus’ life and ministry. During his work with Paul (also not technically an eyewitness of Jesus’ earthly life), he likely had interactions with various early church leaders, and feasibly a fair number of Jesus’ original disciples. Whether he did or not, he affirms that he has “investigated” the traditions handed down by those earliest followers.
The letter is addressed to “Theophilus,” which could be an individual with that name. My own opinion is that Theophilus is any of us. And by that I mean any of us who would seek to be a “lover of God,” which is what the name itself means. Either way, Luke’s intent is clear. He wants to provide people with some sense of assurance about things they have been told about Jesus.
Dang. We are going to be moving pretty slow if I take this long to explain stuff. I’m going to need to keep this moving right along.