Luke’s Use Of The Old Testament As A Key To His Soteriology -- By: William J. Larkin, Jr.

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 20:4 (Dec 1977)
Article: Luke’s Use Of The Old Testament As A Key To His Soteriology
Author: William J. Larkin, Jr.


Luke’s Use Of The Old Testament
As A Key To His Soteriology

William J. Larkin, Jr.*

One of the “theological accusations” brought against Luke’s theology by many NT scholars since 1950 is his lack of a soteriological interpretation of Jesus’ death.1 They note that Luke does not use Mark 10:45 in his gospel.2 If the shorter reading of the words over the bread and cup (Luke 22:15–19a) is accepted as authentic, Luke again fails to include words that interpret Jesus’ death soteriologically, particularly as a vicarious atonement.3 References to Jesus’ death in the early Church preaching recorded in Acts mention its divine necessity as a fulfillment of Scripture, but not its saving significance (Acts 3:18; 13:29; 26:22–23; cf. Luke 24:25–27, 44–48).4 Acts 20:28, which refers to the Church as that which the Lord obtained with his own blood, has not gone unquestioned as a piece of evidence for Luke’s soteriological understanding of Jesus’ death. Either the verse is viewed as traditional wording that Luke uses to represent Paul’s view but not his own,5 or if it is accepted as representing Luke’s view it is evaluated as having little weight in the light of the many times Luke mentions Jesus’ death without also presenting its soteriological significance.6

A final piece of evidence is Luke’s use of Isaiah 53. On the two occasions when he quotes from the passage, he appears to studiously avoid those portions of the chapter that refer to vicarious atonement.7 At the Last Supper, Jesus quotes Isa 53:12d (“and he was reckoned with transgressors”). He does not quote what immediately follows (“yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors”; Isa 53:12e, f). Luke reports that as Philip joins the Ethiopian eunuch, the eunuch is reading Isa 53:7c–8c (Acts 8:32–33). Luke con...

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