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Answering The Atheist
October 8, 2006 / Volume 6, Issue 41

Does the gospel of Luke contain everything that Jesus did? Acts 1:1-2 says that it did, but John 21:25 says that the world could not contain a complete record of all that Jesus did. Is there a contradiction?

Luke claimed to have recorded "...all that Jesus both began to do and teach..." Was Luke claiming to have revealed absolutely every detail about the life of Christ? Does he mean to say that Jesud did nothing or said nothing, except that which is revealed in the gospel of Luke? Though one might attempt to read that into Luke's words, it is by no meas what he said or meant to say.

First, let us focus on the fact that Luke references "...all that Jesus both BEGAN to do and teach..." The second book penned by Luke, the book of Acts, would pick up where the first book left off. Luke does not state that he recorded in his gospel account "...everything that Jesus did..." He wrote, "...all that Jesus both BEGAN to do and teach..." There is a difference. In the gospel, Luke gives details about the ministry of Christ, with the intent of eventually coming to the book of Acts, which focuses on the END or the consequence of Jesus' ministry - the establishment and growth of the church.

Regarding the word "all", if I return from a trip and say to a friend, "Let me tell you all about my trip", and then proceed to review the key moments and events of the trip, did I tell "all"? Yes, in our common use of the word. Did I reveal every last detail? No, such is not necessary to have told "all" about the trip. I need not mention how often and where I went to the washroom. Our concept of "all" does not include such things.

If one were unable to go to church on Sunday, he might ask another who was present, "Tell me all that the preacher spoke in his lesson." To do so, must the friend recount word for word the preacher's lesson, or may this be accomplished by identifying and revealing the key points of the lesson? Luke did exactly that. He gave an account which can be considered a complete report of the ministry of Christ, adequately focusing upon both the miracles Jesus did and the lessons which Jesus taught. One need not record every deed and word in order to have declared "...all..."

There is no contradiction here.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible