Index: Luke and Acts

Luke is a Greco-Roman biography of Jesus. For a defense of date and authorship, see this resource. For matters relating to Marcan priority and Q, go here. For a defense of Acts (especially with relation to Paul's letters) look here. We have an item on the question, Was Luke influenced by Josephus?

Luke 1-2
The Birth Narratives -- a harmonization
Luke 1:6
Are Joseph and Mary described as sinless -- contrary to the teaching of Romans 3?
Luke 1:18, 34
Why was Zacharaias punished for asking a question, while Mary wasn't? -- part of a response to David Freidrich Strauss
Luke 1:44
For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Critics think it incredible that a fetus can hear and understand speech. Well, folks involved in pre-natal training think they can; and even so, all we have here is an assertion that the "babe" heard (not necessarily understood) the speech. Fetuses, of course, can perceive sounds from the outside quite well beyond a certain stage.

Luke 2:1
Is Luke in error about a census? [Off Site] -- see also our evaluation of Miller vs. Carrier on this issue
Luke 2:48-50
"After all that Nativity stuff, how could they not have understood?" Also, does this make Mary and Joseph out to be bad parents for not noticing Jesus was gone? Not at all. Rihbany (The Syrian Christ, 49-51) notes that Mary and Joseph sought for Jesus "among their kinsfolk and acquaintance." This was a family travelling group, and young pilgrims like the 12 year old Jesus were considered safe as long as they were in the company as a whole (this in line with the extended-family concept of the ancients, not the nuclear family of today, which most critics have in mind). "On such journeys, parents may not see their sons for hours at a time." Rihbany argues therefore that Jesus must have been with the group as it left Jerusalem, and detached himself shortly after they started their journey.
Luke 3:1-2
Is Luke in error about Lysanias? One Skeptic says that Lysanias had been dead for 34 years at this time, having been executed at the behest of Cleopatra, and Abilene was not a tetrarchy at this time. Inscriptional evidence has since confirmed that a "Lysanias the tetrarch" did rule in Abilene in the period c. 15-30 AD.
Luke 3:23-38
Luke 3:27
Is the reference to Rhesa and error?
Luke 4
Could Jesus have sinned?
Luke 4:5
Does this verse teach a flat earth? Also, is the order wrong from Matthew?
Luke 4:8
Did Jesus misquote Deut. 6:13?
Luke 4:18-19
Is Jesus reading the text incorrectly?
Luke 4:29
And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. Some allege geographical error here, in that they read this as implying that Nazareth is not built on a hill with a brow. The commentaries of Geldenhuys and Plummer offer an answer. Nazareth was and still is situated in a hollow "high up against the slopes of a mountain" so that it is enclosed on three sides by portions of the mountain. The "brow" refers rather to a 30-40 foot limestone cliff at the southwest corner of city, and our verse is read incorrectly as implying that the city was built ON the brow of the hill, when it is actually saying that it was built on the hill, and the brow is part of the hill also.
Luke 4:33
An unclean spirit? Confessing Jesus?!?
Luke 5:19
But roofs in Palestine didn't have tiles!
Luke 5:20
Does Jesus forgive sins or the Father?
Luke 5:22
Is this a biological error?
Luke 5:32
"For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." One Skeptic pits this against verses saying "No one is good--except God alone," for if there are none good, there are no righteous to call - which is the whole point. With typical rabbinic exaggeration, Jesus has indicated that he is going to those who need him most. Moreover, this verse is a polemic against the Pharisees and Saducees, who thought they were righteous.

Luke 6
Shouldn't the Holy Spirit know the day and the hour?
Luke 6:1-4
Did Jesus actually break the OT law?
Luke 6:27-28
Does this passage teach us to be doormats?
Luke 6:29-30
Does this passage mean we have to give away all our stuff to people who ask for it?
Luke 6:37
Does this mean no judging at all?
Luke 6:43
"A good tree can produce bad fruit!"
Luke 7:3
Did the centurion come, or not?
Luke 7:36-50
Are the "anointing women" stories copies of each other?
Luke 8:21
Was Jesus insulting or cruel to his mother and brothers?
Luke 8:26-39
How do we reconcile the accounts of the healing of the demoniac?
Luke 8:43-5
"If Jesus is God, why isn't he omniscient?"
Luke 8:52
Jairus' daughter: dead or sleeping?
Luke 9:1-6
Could they have a staff, or not? [Off Site]
Luke 9:28
Did the Transfiguration involve a wait of eight days, or six, per Mark and Matthew? An interesting note is that Matthew and Mark use says "after six days" only whereas Luke specifies "about an eight days after these sayings..." Not only is Luke estimating where Mark and Matt are not -- but in light of Peter's words about building shacks for Elijah and Moses, the "six days" referred to means "after the six days between the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles". Luke the Gentile writer does not use this method of reckoning time; it would have no meaning for his readers. (On this being a false propecy of Jesus' coming, see here.)
Luke 9:50
Are the Gospels contradictory about a "default" on Jesus?
Luke 10:4
...salute no man by the way. Is this being rude, espcieally for men of good will spreading a message of peace? No, because in the ancient East, "salutes" meant making an extensive stop full of questions between participants asking how life is, how the family is, how the kids are, how many are in your clan, etc. until you know as much about the other guy as you do about your neighbor. In light of the urgent message of the Kingdom, the admonition is roughly equal to telling travellers not to stop at every Stuckey's on the road.
Luke 10:13-4
If Tyre and Sidon would have repented, why didn't Jesus do miracles there?
Luke 10:27
Did Jesus misquote the Shema?
Luke 11:31
If this is true, what about Solomon?
Luke 11:37-8
Did Jesus actually break the OT law?
Luke 11:40
Was Jesus a hypocrite when he called people fools?
Luke 11:47-8
Did they really build prophets' tombs?
Luke 11:51
Was Jesus in error about Zachariah?
Luke 12:4
Was Jesus a hypocrite when he warned people not to fear others?
Luke 14:8-10
Does this teach "classism"?
Luke 14:26
Does this verse teach literal, misogynist hate?
Luke 14:33
Does this mean we should give away all our possessions?
Luke 15:7
"I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." A Skeptic asks how there could be 99 in no need of repentance, when the Bible says we all need it. The Skeptic is simply pressing the analogy farther than it is intended -- if we really want to press it, then let's make the point that the single sheep who strayed did so at a given moment in time; the other 99 did not stray just then, but might do so later. Repentance isn't just a moment-in-time affair.
Luke 16:17
Why don't Christians keep the law today?
Luke 16:9-13
" I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings...You cannot serve both God and Money." Said by one Skeptic to offer a contradiction, under the presumption that the first verse is equal to serving mammon, which it is not - it refers to the use of mammon, not serving it. The Greek indicates that the commitment to either God or money is of "service" equivalent to total service, even enslavement [cf. John 8:33]. This is obviously not the same as mere use.

Luke 17:11
Does this verse contain a geographical error?
Luke 18:1-8
Is this passage "integrity-assautling"?
Luke 19:18
Did Jesus deny being good -- and therefore divine?
Luke 19:30ff
Did Jesus steal the donkey he rode into Jerusalem?
Luke 19:46
Isn't the Temple cleansing incident an example of violence? [Off Site]
Luke 22:31-3
Was Jesus' prayer a failure?
Luke 22:36
Was Jesus for war or peace?
Luke 22:41
How did the author know what Jesus prayed if eveyone was asleep?
Luke 22:42-3
  • Does Jesus' asking for the cup to be taken from him show he cannot be a savior? Why did he need an angel to strengthen him if he is God?
  • Did Jesus cry out to a pagan deity? [Off Site]
  • Luke 22:61
  • Do the Gospels disagree on how many times the cock crowed?
  • Were roosters not permitted in Jerusalem?
  • Luke 22:71
    Did Jesus really commit blasphemy?
    Luke 23:7
    Is the episode with Herod realistic?
    Luke 23:33
    One Skeptic pits this verse, which refers to the site of Jesus' Crucifixion as Calvary, against Matthew 27:33, which says Golgotha -- though he adds that "Some apologists disputably allege Golgotha is the Hebrew rendering while Calvary is Latin." There is no "disputably" about it. Both words mean the same thing ("skull").
    Luke 23:34
    Does Jesus forgive sins or the Father?
    Luke 23:46
    Do the Gospels disagree about Jesus' last words on the cross?
    Luke 24:4
    Do the Gospels contradict about the angels at Jesus' tomb?
    Luke 24:16
    Was Jesus being deceptive?
    Luke 24:30
    Did Jesus eat leavened bread?
    Luke 24:50-1//Acts 1:9-12
    Is Luke contradictory about the location of the ascent of Jesus?
    Acts 1:12
    Does this verse contain a geographical error (re: the "sabbath's day" journey)?
    Acts 1:15
    "And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty)." One Skeptic puts this against Paul's note of 500 brethren seeing Jesus. Does Acts 1:15 say that the 120 present were the entire collection of believers in Jesus from everywhere? No, it doesn't.
    Acts 1:18-19
    Does Matthew contradict Acts on Judas Iscariot's death?
    Acts 2:4
    How is this reconciled with John 20:22, where they Spirit was received? See here.
    Acts 2:21
    Will all who call on God's name be delivered?
    Acts 2:22
    Is there contradiction about the giving of signs?
    Acts 2:31
    "How could the soul of a perfect being ever have been in hell?" Actually there are two issues; The word "left" means "abandoned" or "forsaken" and does not imply that Jesus' soul was ever in Hell. Second, the word translated "hell" is the Greek "hades" or "netherworld". At the time of Christ, Jews believed that both saints and unbelievers went to hades to await judgement. It is not the "hell" or gehenna of Revelation that unbelievers will eventually go to.
    Acts 2:38
    Does this verse teach that baptism is needed for salvation? -- part of a broad article that also touches on the general faith-works relationship question.
    Acts 2:44-5, 4:34-7
    Does the Bible teach communism? Some comments.
    Acts 3:10-11
    Is Luke's "temple geography" fouled up?
    Acts 3:21
    "What prophets existed and spoke for God when the world began?" The word "world" here is actually aion, or age, an age of time. The Jews believed in two ages: the age of the law (which began at Sinai) and the age of the Messiah. Peter refers here to Moses as the first prophet who spoke of these things at the start of the age of the law.
    Acts 4:13
    Doesn't this verse show that Peter and John were illiterate bumpkins? How did they write letters and Gospels, then?
    Acts 4:36
    Is the definition of Barnabas' name wrong?
    Acts 5:29
    Should we obey secular authorities, or not?
    Acts 5:30
    Claimed by one skeptic to be contradictory as to what Jesus was hung on. Tree and cross are synonymous here. The Greek word, xylon was used for tree, wood, pole, and cross during antiquity; this is also found in rabbinic and other Jewish literature of the time.
    Acts 5:36
    Is the statement about Theudas in error? [Off Site]
    Acts 7:2
  • When did Abraham leave home?
  • "Isn't Stephen's speech full of mistakes?" [Off Site] - part of a larger article on the NT use of the OT.
  • Acts 7:7, 16
    Does Stephen get place names wrong? According to The Believer’s Study Bible: Stephen apparently conflates or "telescopes" two separate texts (later in v. 16, he will telescope or conflate two separate incidents). This was a popular method of recounting history in Stephen’s day. The statement is true as we recognize that in one breath Stephen alludes to two different texts. Further, the fact is that they did worship God both in "this place" (Canaan, Gen. 15:13–15) and on Mt. Horeb (Ex. 3:12)......

    As for Abraham's tomb, it is said: Though this is possibly the most difficult of the alleged discrepancies, a proper understanding of the recounting of tradition by the Semitic people is the key. (1) Some would argue that Jacob bought the Shechem burial ground in the name of Abraham. (2) The use of the plural in Acts 7:16 ("they") tips us off that Stephen is conflating or telescoping several familiar accounts into a summary statement. Though admittedly strange by our standards, this would have been well understood and accepted by Stephen’s hearers as an accurate statement. In terms of not reporting the burial of Jacob's sons it is said: See above, resolution (2). That argument holds for this point also, though the complementary nature of the accounts, and the possibility of Stephen’s utilizing extrabiblical tradition, is clearly evident. Interestingly, Josephus informs us of a tradition that says the brothers of Joseph were buried at Hebron.
    Acts 7:14
    How many went to Egypt with Jacob?
    Acts 7:48
    Does God dwell places or not?
    Acts 9:5
    Why would Paul ask to whom he is speaking, since he identified the speaker as "Lord"? Two possible answers: 1) Paul knew it was the Lord, but he did not know that the Lord was Jesus. 2) Paul says "Lord" not as a divine title, but as a way of saying "Sir", which is how this word was also used. (Matt 21:30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.)
    Acts 9, 22, 26
    Does Acts offer contradictory accounts of Paul's conversion?
    Acts 9:26-30
    Issues: Acts vs. Galatians: Paul's Travel Chronology
    Acts 10:1
    Is Luke's wrong about the Italian Cohort?
    Acts 10:34
    Does God play favorites or not?
    Acts 10:48
    Is the tri-fold command for baptism (Matt. 28:19) in contradiction to verses that say that the church baptized in the name of the Lord or Jesus only (like Acts 2:38 or this one)? At worst this is merely a case where the apostles, on their own initiative, compressed the baptismal formula. But why should this be a problem? Are we bound by ritual constraints this way? To baptize in a name means to baptize in the authority of the named; the Son derives his authority from the Father, who also has authority over the Spirit.
    Acts 13:20
    480 years, or 450?
    Acts 13:28-9
    Does this verse offer an alternative burial tradition for Jesus?
    Acts 13:39
    Is all sin forgivable, or not?
    Acts 13:47, 18:6
    Are we to evangelize Jews only or Gentiles as well?
    Acts 15
    Issues: No Words from Paul and Barney?; The Decree; Galatians, an Early Letter; The Real Decree?; Acts 15:10 in the Mouth of Peter?; Would James Use the LXX?; Purpose of the Decree
    Acts 15:28-9
    Does this verse support the Jehovah's Witnesses' doctrine against blood transfusion?
    Acts 16:3
    Is the circumcision of Timothy contrary to Paul's gospel of grace?
    Acts 16:6
    Is this a confused itinerary?
    Acts 17:7
    What were Paul and Silas charged with?
    Acts 17:20ff
    Does Paul's speech conflict with Romans 1-2? Is the "unknown god" inscription historical?
    Acts 18:9-10
    One Skeptic calls this "[o]ne of the most pathetic comments made by which God promises Paul complete protection by saying, "Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee." He goes on to quote places where Paul is hurt, but he has left out part of v. 10 - "because I have many people in THIS CITY." And v. 11 goes on to say "So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God." God is only guaranteeing protection for this particular instance, not for all time. And as v. 11 goes on to say "So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God."

    Acts 19:1-4
    Does this verse teach that baptism is needed for salvation? -- part of a broad article that also touches on the general faith-works relationship question for Mormons; for a broader view, see here.
    Acts 20:25, 38
    Does this passage dispute the Pastorals chronology?
    Acts 20:26, 22:4
    Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. How can Pauls say this when he goes on to admit persecuting and killing people (22:4)? It is because he is speaking in light of the atoning death of Christ, which has cleared him.
    Acts 20:35
    Is Acts 20:35 a false quote of Jesus?
    Acts 21
    Issues: The Prediction of Verse 4; The Collection; James' Reminder to Paul
    Acts 22:8
    And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. Skeptics ask how Jesus could be "of Nazareth" if he had been born in Bethlehem. Obviously, if that was where he had grown up and spent much of his life, of course. Such titles did not indicate birthplaces but places of residence.
    Acts 22:16
    Does this verse teach that baptism is needed for salvation? -- part of a broad article that also touches on the general faith-works relationship question.
    Acts 23:6-8
    Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, "My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead." When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.) Paul is accused by critics of "cunning" and "deception." Cunning, perhaps, but deception? Paul told no lie here. He was on trial precisely because he believed in a specific resurrection from the dead - that of Jesus. Also, What is "hope" in this passage?

    Acts 25
    Problems Before Festus
    Acts 26:20
    Issues: Is there a conflict with Galatians 1:22?
    Acts 26:23
    "Christ wasn't first to rise from the dead!"
    Acts 28
    Could Roman Jews have not known of Christianity?