Luke Bible Commentary: Interview with Alan Thompson

Thompason Luke EGGNTAlan J. Thompson (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), originally from New Zealand, has been teaching New Testament and Biblical Theology at Sydney Missionary & Bible College since 2005.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary?

My PhD was focused on the book of Acts (published as One Lord, One People: The Unity of the Church in Acts in its Literary Setting. LNTS. T&T Clark, 2008) and I have also written a book on the biblical theology of Acts that took Luke’s Gospel into consideration (The Acts of the Risen Lord Jesus: Luke’s Account of God’s Unfolding Plan. NSBT. Inter-Varsity, 2011). This research as well as teaching on Luke and Acts has meant that I’ve developed a special interest in Luke’s writings and jumped at the opportunity to focus more specifically on Luke’s Gospel.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

This Exegetical Guide is designed for students and Pastors who have completed at least one year of beginning Greek. So, students who are in their second or third year of Greek at Seminary or College will find this a helpful guide. Pastors who are preparing sermons and who still use the Greek text or at least remember some of their Greek or even those who want to renew their use of Greek will also profit from this volume. I have tried to explain the structure and the various sections of Luke’s Gospel as well as provide brief exegetical comments and suggested sermon outlines with preachers in mind.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Luke’s Gospel?

It really stands as a bridge between the Greek New Testament and more traditional commentaries. In that sense it is primarily a guide that focuses on the Greek text and helps explain the grammar, syntax, and flow of argument in the Greek text. Generally throughout the volume, and in keeping with the format of all EGGNT volumes, I note representative translations, lexicons, grammarians, and commentators for differing views of the grammar and significant debated exegetical points, and point to further discussions of the grammar/construction in the major grammars. Where it is helpful to explain a complex development I outline the flow of argument, for example, of sequences of verses (e.g., 1:51–54; 68–75; 14:8–12; 16:9–12), whole pericopes (e.g., 6:17–49; 8:1–21; 10:25–37; 11:1–13; 15:1–32; 20:45–21:4; 22:39–46), and broader narrative units (e.g., 7:1–8:56; 13:10–14:35; 18:31–19:44).

As noted above, I have also tried to explain the structure of the larger sections of Luke’s Gospel with preachers in mind. So, for example, I identify main themes and repeated emphases and highlight those in the headings and sub-headings throughout the book. These sub-headings (together with the suggested sermon outlines), if read in conjunction with introductory paragraphs, exegetical analysis of the details, and brief summary explanations throughout the text, will help readers understand the flow of argument in the immediate context as well as the wider narrative.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

Bethlehem

Bethlehem

Because I was primarily focused on the (Greek) text of Luke’s Gospel I loved seeing the literary shaping of the text and thinking through how Luke’s Gospel is an orderly account. This is especially evident in the opening two chapters where Luke introduces Jesus as the Lord who brings the long-awaited salvation. The contrasts that Luke makes with John are particularly striking. Their parents, births, and future roles are contrasted so that the greatness of Jesus is accentuated in this contrast with John who is himself great! The songs of praise that resound with joy complete the emphasis that the saving promises of God (1:5–56) are being fulfilled (1:57–2:40) through the Lord Jesus.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

I was reminded again and again of the authority and compassion of Jesus (note e.g., references in the EGGNT Luke volume to the power of Jesus’ word in 4:14–6:49; 7:1–8:56; and the use of κύριος in Luke’s Gospel). I was also reminded of the number of times Luke’s Gospel draws attention to the impact that eternity, what lies beyond the grave, and the judgment to come should have on our lives now. There are of course well-known specific references to this (for example in 12:20; 16:22–23; and 23:43). As I thought through wider thematic issues with wider discourse observations in view, however, I was also struck by how often this theme was prominent in whole sections of Luke’s Gospel, for example in 12:1–13:9, again in 13:10–15:32, and yet again in 16:1–18:8 (these are noted in my headings and sub-headings for these sections). Themes such as persecution, wealth, worry, faithful service, prayer, as well as the need to repent and trust in Jesus are all tied to Jesus’ teaching on heaven and hell in various ways and serve to strengthen trust in the Lord Jesus.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Luke’s Gospel?

In the introduction to this guide I identify the five main commentaries that I interact with throughout the volume and provide a succinct summary of the strengths of each one (the five are commentaries by [Darrell] Bock, [Francois] Bovon, [Joseph] Fitzmyer, [I. Howard] Marshall, and [John] Nolland) and I also mention the other slightly less technical one volume commentaries that I refer to occasionally. I recommend the commentaries by Bock (BECNT) and [James R.] Edwards (Pillar) for pastors.

7. What’s next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

Lord willing, in the near future I will continue to focus on Luke and Acts. I’m looking forward to drawing out the exegetical observations from my work on Luke and making them accessible in notes on Luke’s Gospel for a Study Bible. I’m also working on a commentary on Acts for the new B&H series, Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation. Beyond this, although Luke and Acts are the longest books in the New Testament, I’m also looking forward to writing on other parts of the New Testament (!) as I’m contracted to write a commentary on Colossians. In God’s kindness these projects provide enough for me to focus on in the near future!


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