The books of Luke and Acts are two volumes of a single work (see the Invitation to Acts for a more detailed introduction to Acts). Together they tell the story of how God first invited the people of Israel, and then all nations, to follow Jesus. In the first volume, the movement is toward Jerusalem, the center of Jewish national life. In the second, the movement is from Jerusalem to other nations, closing with Paul proclaiming the kingdom of God in Rome, the capital of the empire.
Luke addresses his history to most excellent Theophilus, most likely a Roman official. His volumes are stocked with details from sources Luke had available: letters, speeches, songs, travel accounts, trial transcripts and biographical anecdotes. Luke’s purpose is to show the fulfillment of God’s plan to bring his light to the world through Israel. The earliest Jesus-followers take up this calling by announcing Jesus’ victory over sin and death to all the nations.
The first volume, Luke’s telling of the story of Jesus, has three main sections:
: First, Jesus ministers in Galilee, the northern area of the land of Israel.
: Next, he takes a long journey to Jerusalem, during which he welcomes people into the way of God’s reign and challenges Israel’s current understanding of the kingdom.
: Third, Luke tells how Jesus gives his life in Jerusalem and then rises from the dead to be revealed as Israel’s King and the world’s true Lord.