In the early years after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, the accounts of what he taught and did were shared orally within the communities of believers spreading around the Roman world. And as long as there were plenty of eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life, that was sufficient. But as time passed and the gospel spread further, the need for written accounts became more critical. Four of these accounts were widely circulated by the end of the first century. And one of them was what we call the gospel of Luke. This book is anonymous. But Luke, the sometimes traveling companion of the apostle Paul, is generally believed to be the author.
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.Luke 1:1-4 NIV
Luke addressed this book to Theophilus. Theophilus is unknown apart from this reference and a similar one at the beginning of Acts. In these introductory remarks to Theophilus, Luke shared his reason for writing. So that Theophilus could know with certainty the truth about what he had been taught.
Seeing something written down does not necessarily give us any certainty that it is true. But Luke tells us something else here that is important. He had carefully investigated the details of the life of Jesus from the very beginning. He was not just writing down what he had heard. Instead, he interviewed people with firsthand knowledge of Jesus and his life. He read and evaluated other written accounts. And what he passed on to Theophilus was the result. A carefully researched and crafted account of the life and teachings of our Lord Jesus.
Our confidence in the Scripture is based on our faith in its inspiration. But knowing the care and effort the human authors put into their work can only add to that confidence. Like Theophilus, we can know with certainty what the Scripture teaches.