Military Leaders And Jonah In The Writings Of Luke, Part 1 -- By: Kenneth W. Yates

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 173:691 (Jul 2016)
Article: Military Leaders And Jonah In The Writings Of Luke, Part 1
Author: Kenneth W. Yates

Military Leaders And Jonah In The Writings Of Luke, Part 1

Kenneth W. Yates

Kenneth W. Yates is a retired Army chaplain and is pastor of Little River Baptist Church, Jenkinsville, South Carolina.


This two-part series argues that two Gentile military leaders, Naaman and Julius, form an inclusio in Luke–Acts. Both men are open to the revelation of God. Both are pious and are a rebuke to the unbelief of some Jews. As does the book of Jonah, these men show that God reaches out to Gentiles and can reach them within their pagan backgrounds. The reader of Luke–Acts is encouraged to go to them as well.

In the writings of Luke, Gentile military leaders play significant roles. In Luke’s Gospel, a Roman centurion becomes an example of great faith to the Jews who were following Jesus (Luke 7:1-9). Another centurion makes the final statement concerning the Lord at the cross (Luke 23:47). A third centurion becomes the impetus for the mission to the Gentiles in the book of Acts (Acts 10).

Two other Gentile military leaders merit special attention. They are the first and last such men that Luke mentions. In his first sermon, Jesus refers to the Syrian general Naaman (Luke 4:27). At the end of Acts, the centurion Julius escorts Paul to Rome, even saving the life of the apostle in the process (Acts 27-28). In other words, these men are found at the beginning of the ministry of the Lord as well as at the end of Paul’s ministry in Acts.

This two-article series will argue that Naaman and Julius form an inclusio in Luke’s writings. As Gentiles, they show that it

was always God’s plan that the gospel would go to the whole world. To emphasize this point, Luke also alludes to Jonah in the accounts of both men. If these men serve this purpose, such allusions are not surprising, since in the book of Jonah God also makes it clear that he reaches out to Gentiles. In addition, these military leaders demonstrate that God reaches out to Gentiles in the spiritual condition in which they find themselves. There is no need for them to come to Judaism first. To Gentile readers of Luke and Acts, such as Theophilus (Luke 1:3) and readers today, this message would be a source of great comfort. God can reach unbelievers wherever they are, and unbelievers can respond to what God reveals about himself. This should encourage believers to reach o...

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