LUKE - ACTS
CHRISTOLOGICAL TITLES IN LUKE
In Luke 1-3 we have seen Jesus introduced by Luke as a true man,
prophet, Saviour, Messiah, Lord and Son of God. We need to add to
our awareness Luke's rich and varied christology by studying the way
the evangelist pursues the use of the christological names and titles
through Luke-Acts. These notes give a brief introduction, and add
suggested reading after each section. 
1. JESUS THE TRUE MAN
Luke's christology begins "from below", with the historical
Jesus. At its first level the Third Gospel is about the man
Christ Jesus. "Jesus" is the Lord's human name. The early
chapters of Luke record the birth and growth of Jesus as a "baby"
(Lk.2:16, Gk.to brephos),
"little boy" (2:40, Gk. to paidion)
boy" (v.43, Gk. ho pais).
The genealogy in chapter three goes
back to Adam, the first man (3:23-38; Gen.1:27; 2:7). Be aware of the
Lord's human characteristics as you read and study the Gospel, e.g.,
Jesus is tempted (4:1), he prayed (5:16), wept (19:41) and slept
(8:23). The Lord's experience in the Garden of Gethsemane reveals
his humanity. 
Jesus and the Spirit
As a man Jesus was subordinate to his Father, and depended on the Holy
Spirit for the guidance, inspiration and power in his life and
ministry. He said: "If I drive out demons by the finger of God,
then the kingdom of God has come to you" (Lk.11:20 = Mt.12:28, Q; cf.
D.Guthrie, New Testament Theology, Leicester, IVP, 1981, pp.220-222.
C.K.Barrett, The Holy Spirit in the Gospel Tradition, revised, London,
SPCK, 1966, pp.5-68.
2. JESUS THE PROPHET
That Jesus saw himself as a prophet may be inferred from
Lk.4:24 and 13:33. His disciples recognised him as a prophet
(24:19). The populace recognised Jesus as a prophet (7:16).
His ministry is reminiscent of an OT prophet's (e.g., his "woes":
6:24-26; 11:42-52). Beginning with Lk.4:25-27 a number of
allusions are made to Elijah and Elisha (9:8,19,30,33). On the
mount of transfiguration (9:28-36) Jesus is seen as greater than Moses
representing the law) and Elijah (representing the prophets). 
Jesus the prophet and the Spirit
As a prophet his prophetical ability and inspiration came from the fact
that "the Holy Spirit was upon him" (3:22; 4:18).
D.Guthrie, New Testament Theology, pp.269-270.
C.K.Barrett, The Holy Spirit in the Gospel Tradition, pp.94-99.
O.Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament, London, SCM,
J.D.G.Dunn, Jesus and the Spirit, London, SCM, 1975, pp.82-84.
I.H.Marshall, Luke: Historian and Theologian, Exeter, Paternoster,
R.P.Menzies, Empowered for Witness: The Spirit in Luke-Acts, Sheffield,
Sheffield Academic Press, 1994, pp.132-139
3. JESUS THE SAVIOUR
Luke's Gospel is the Gospel of a Saviour.  We have seen how
the promise of a Saviour features in the nativity narratives. "Today in
the town of David a Saviour has been born to you" (2:11). The key
verse to the Gospel comes at the end of the story of Zacchaeus with the
Son of Man saying: "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what
was lost" (19:1-10). 
Although salvation statements may be limited in Luke,  God's divine
plan for Jesus - involving his suffering, death and resurrection is
made quite plain (e.g., Lk.22:22). The exodus of Jesus was the
topic of conversation on the mount of transfiguration (9:31).
Luke tells us that Jesus was aware of his destiny. He predicted
his death (9:22), faced it (9:51; 12:50) and accepted it (22:39). When
he kept the Passover with his disciples, he spoke of his death in
redemptive terms (22:19-20).  We may argue that the full meaning of
Jesus' death is reserved for Luke's second work (e.g., Acts 2:23; 5:30;
10:39; 13:29). 
Jesus the Saviour and the Spirit
Does Luke indicate the involvement of the Spirit in the saving work of
Christ in any way? The Spirit was involved in the incarnation and in
the temptation of Jesus. The Spirit was also vitally involved in
the promulgation of the good news (Lk.4:18-19; Acts 1:8). Consider
D.Guthrie, New Testament Theology, pp.431-449.
O.Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament, pp.238-245.
4. JESUS THE MESSIAH
A christological awareness is firmly stated at the beginning
of the Gospel: "A Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord"
(Lk.2:11).  Jesus was anointed and consecrated at his baptism by
the Spirit as the Messiah (3:21-22). At Caesarea Philippi Peter
confessed Jesus as Christ (9:20). At his transfiguration the
Father attested his messiahship (Sonship) (9:35). Jesus never
preached that he was the Messiah, but in his sermon at Nazareth and in
his reply to John the Baptist he applied messianic scriptures to
himself (4:17-21; 7:20-22, Q). When he was confronted with the
question at his trial, "Are you the Christ?" he answered in the
affirmative (22:67-70). He also applied the messianic Psalm 110
to himself (20:41-44). 
Jesus the Messiah and the Spirit
The relationship of the Holy Spirit to Jesus as the Messiah is
obvious. Jesus was "the Anointed" (Gk. Christos) because of his
relationship with the Spirit. 
D.Guthrie, New Testament Theology, pp.236-242.
O.Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament, pp.111-136.
I.H.Marshall, The Origins of New Testament Christology, Leicester, IVP,
5. JESUS THE LORD
The term "lord" (Gk.kurios,
kyrios) is a common designation,
and has a number of uses.  It is used of Jesus in the highest sense
in scriptures such as Rom.10:9, 1 Cor.12:3 and Phil.2:11. The
question is how does Luke use it? Sometimes his recognition of Jesus as
Lord reflects his faith and the faith of the church at the time of
writing (e.g., Lk.7:13). 1 Cor.16:22 counters the view that the
title was given to Jesus by the Hellenistic church. The Aramaic
formula Maran atha, "the Lord
comes" (or "our Lord, come") in 1
Cor.16:22 (Rev.22:20) roots the phrase early in the Jewish Christian
Lk.1:16 sees John as the forerunner of the Lord (see 3:4; cf.
Isa.40:3). The angels announced the incarnation of the Lord
(2:11).  Peter's confession, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful
man" (5:8) has theological depth. Jesus saw himself as the "Lord
of the Sabbath" (6:5). He recognised his authority as Lord
(6:46). Again, Jesus applied Psa.110 to himself (20:41-44).
Jesus the Lord and the Spirit
The resurrection made the disciples of Jesus aware of the reality of
Jesus' Lordship (Lk.24:34). In the Acts Peter declares how the
resurrection asserted Jesus' lordship (Acts 2:29-36). Jesus was so
raised and declared by the Holy Spirit (Rom.1:4). In Acts Jesus
is the baptiser with the Spirit (Acts 2:33; cf. Lk.3:16).
D.Guthrie, New Testament Theology, 291-293.
O.Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament, pp.195-237.
I.H.Marshall, The Origins of New Testament Christology, pp.97-110.
6. JESUS THE SERVANT OF THE LORD
The Servant Songs found in Deutero-Isaiah indicate the Servant's
ministry (see Isa.42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12).  Jesus
quoted from Isaiah 53 and applied it to himself (22:37). He also
related to Isaiah 61 (4:17-21), and to the prophecy of Isaiah in a
broader sense (7:21-22; cf., Isa.29:18; 32:3-5; 42:16). Luke does not
have an exact equivalent of Mk.10:45 (Mt.20:28), but he records the
saying of Jesus "But I am among you as one who serves" (see
22:27). As the Suffering Servant Jesus had a redemptive
mission. Remember the significance of Isa.42:1 at Jesus' baptism
The title Servant of the Lord (Ebed
Yahweh) is explicitly applied to
Jesus in the Acts. Peter makes this claim in his sermons (Acts
3:13,26), as does the Jerusalem church in its prayers (Acts
4:27,30). Philip related Isa.53 to Jesus in his witness to
official from the court of Candace (Acts 8:26-35). Isaiah
intimates the relationship of the Spirit to the Servant (see
Jesus the Ebed Yahweh
Ebed Yahweh (Servant of
the Lord) is a messianic title. The
Spirit is intimately involved in the Messiah's ministry The Servant
Songs support this observation.
D.Guthrie, New Testament Theology, pp.258-263.
O.Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament, pp.51-82.
7. JESUS THE SON OF GOD
"He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most
High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David"
(Lk.1:32). Gabriel's word to Mary intimates the special nature of
Jesus. Further to this the title is used by Satan (4:3,9), demons
(4:41; 8:28) and the Sanhedrin (22:70 ).  The Father witnessed to
Jesus' Sonship (3:21-22; 9:27-36).
Jesus did not use the title Son of God of himself,  but he referred
to his Sonship and confessed an unique filial consciousness from the
early age of twelve (Lk.2:49). The inference to his Sonship is
clear in the Parable of the Tenants (20:9-18). The words, "I will
send my son, whom I love" (pempsō ton
huion mou ton agapēton) call to
mind Genesis 22 (see the term, to
agapētos, beloved, only, unique, in
Gen.22:2,12). The so-called "Johannine thunderbolt"
(Mt.11:27=Lk.10:22, Q) demands special attention. C.A.Craig says
that the devil had no doubt regarding Jesus' identity. 
Jesus the Son of God and the
Luke is not as profound as John (John's Gospel) in detailing this
relationship - his perspective is different. The relationship of
the Spirit with the Son begins with the Spirit's involvement in the
conception and birth of Jesus. The angel stated: "The Holy Spirit
will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God" (Lk.1:35).
The Gnostic Redeemer-myth
"The Son of God" of Scripture is sometimes compared with "a (the) Son
of God" in Hellenistic literature. The latter was "a divine man"
(theios anēr), who claimed to
be a son of a god. These
son-divinities were often depicted as deliverers to be
worshipped. R.Bultmann believes that the Gnostic Redeemer-myth is
behind the developing christology of the NT. The church, he
maintained, develops the Jesus of history into the Christ of
faith. He also compares the Son of Man sayings with the gnostic
idea of the cosmic Redeemer who came from heaven to save.
Bultmann's views cannot be ignored and require evaluation. 
A.Richardson makes the observation:
The New Testament formulates no doctrine of the Trinity, but
its threefold doxological and liturgical formulae (e.g., Matt.28:19; 2
Cor.1:21f.; 13:14; 1 Pet.1:2; Jude 20f.; Rev.1:4-6) sufficiently
demonstrate that the apostolic Church worshipped one God in Trinity and
Trinity in unity. 
Following this kind of awareness we note that Luke recognises each
member of the Godhead, for example, at the baptism of Jesus. The
Father, Son and Holy Spirit are recognised (Lk.3:21-22).
D.Guthrie, New Testament Theology, pp.301-312.
O.Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament, pp.270-305.
J.D.G.Dunn, Jesus and the Spirit, pp.26-40.
I.H.Marshall, The Origins of New Testament Christology, pp.111-125.
8. JESUS THE SON OF MAN
According to the witness of the four Gospels Jesus' chief
self-designation was barnasha
or Son of Man.  The Greek equivalent ho huios tou anthrōpou
(both nouns with an article) is clumsy and
indicates its Semitic background. It occurs in the singular 84
(83) times, in Luke 12 (11) times (but consider: Lk.5:24; 6:5; 7:34;
9:26,44,58; 11:30; 12:8,40; 17:24,30; 18:8; 19:10; 22:22,69).
Outside the Gospels it is only found in Acts 7:56.  Although some
scholars argue that barnasha
is not a title,  others present
grounds for believing otherwise. 
In the OT "son of man" is used of man or mankind (ben adam) (e.g.,
Psa.8:4; 80:17); of a prophet (ben
'enosh) (e.g., Ezek.2:1) and of
God's special Agent, the "son of man" who stands before the ancient of
days (Dan.7:13). There is evidence from inter-testamental
literature (such as the Similitudes
of Enoch) that "son of man" took on
messianic significance in the inter-testamental period. Because
of this, R.H.Charles believes that Jesus could use the designation "son
of man" as a messianic title, fusing it with that of Servant of the
Lord. The significance of Dan.7:13 cannot be ignored (see
Mk.14:62; Mt.26:64; Lk.22:69). Scholars sometimes refer to Jesus as the
Danielic Son of Man.
A conservative view represents Jesus using barnasha as a title that
would say so much more about himself than other titles, for example,
Messiah.  (The NIV denotes the term as a title by using capital
letters, viz., Son of Man.) Jesus did use the term obliquely, which
left his audience asking whether he spoke of himself or someone else.
This use of the term would challenge thought and faith. Scholars
universally classify the Son of Man sayings according to their
contents, denoting them with letters of the alphabet:
A. The sayings which refer to the earthly ministry of the Son
B. The sayings which refer to the coming suffering, death and
resurrection of the Son of Man.
C. The sayings which refer to the future coming, exaltation
and judgment of the Son of Man.
The Son of Man and the Spirit
As far as we can see none of the Son of Man sayings contain a reference
to the Holy Spirit. Why is this? This title is not encountered in
Luke's Gospel until the account of the healing of the paralysed man in
chapter five (Lk.5:24).
D.Guthrie, New Testament Theology, pp.270-282.
O.Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament, pp.137-192.
I.H.Marshall, The Origins of New Testament Christology, pp.63-82.
1. Consider the Son of Man sayings in the Synoptic
Gospels. Do they all fit into one of the above categories, A B C?
How do they compare with those in the Fourth Gospel?
2. Consider the christological titles in Luke. Which, in your
opinion, relates most to the person and work of the Holy Spirit.
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