No, not that one. THIS one:
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. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
A bit of a grand Greek introduction there. And who’s writing? Well he certainly doesn’t say “Hi Theo, it’s me, Luke”. But generally people agree that it was Luke who wrote this gospel. Early church testimony backs this up. What do we know about him? In Colossians Paul tells the readers that: ‘Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas, send greetings.’ (Col 4:14). And also in Philemon he passes on greetings from him (Philemon 1:24). In 2 Timothy Paul recounts how most of his friends have gone – indeed, Demas has ‘deserted me’ and ‘Only Luke is with me’ (2 Tim 4:11). We get the impression he was a loyal friend and co-worker of Paul. Acts is the sequel to this book (by the same author), and recounts many of Paul and friends’ activities. At certain points we hear the pronoun ‘we’, when we are getting Luke’s eye-view of the happenings.
Back to the grand Greek introduction, and indeed this was a standard formal introduction to a letter in this culture. ‘Theophilus‘ – was he a Roman official? Possibly. Certainly the ‘most excellent’ denotes real respect.
The most important thing we can get from this is, I feel,an idea of Luke’s approach to writing. He is a detective of his time. He wants to dig deep. He wants to get the facts straight. He wants to be a reliable account, by using good sources and eye witness accounts. He wants to get it right. He’s a careful investigator and writer. He wants to tell the story of Jesus – and tell it properly.
This is the formal introduction. Something extraordinary is about to take place, however. From this grand Greek introduction we are suddenly immersed into a different culture…
The lights dip, the curtains open, and the narrator begins:
In the time of Herod, King of Judea…
And the story, the most incredible story of all, is about to begin.