The Significance of Mocking
In an earlier article entitled “Others mocking said,” I suggested that Luke was mocking Theophilus because he still did not believe in the resurrection, the power of God and the saving acts that occurred among us. Thus the author is engaged in a dialogue with his First Reader.
Luke begins his masterpiece with these words addressed t most excellent Theophilus, the High Priest:
“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us,
just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word,
it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,
that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed.” RSV
This first verse lets Theophilus know that this narrative which he is about to read describes the savings acts “which have been accomplished among us.” It is unmistakably clear that the phrase “among us” means the author and the recipient are both eyewitnesses to some of these events. This is not to say that Theophilus and Luke witnessed each and every act described but that they both have personal knowledge of these events. As noted in Lk. 1:4, Theophilus had previously been informed of many of these events, probably by Joanna. As detailed in my eBook, available from Amazon, Theophilus is the grandfather of Joanna who is mentioned in two places in the Gospel of Luke. In the first instance, Joanna is healed by Jesus, an event which she no doubt informed her grandfather. In the second instance, Johanna is an eyewitness to the resurrection and one of the woman labeled by the disciples as presenting an “idle tale.” You may recall that Jesus also healed the servant of the High Priest when one of his disciples cut off this person’s right ear. Theophilus, as the son of the High Priest Ananus and the brother-in-law of Caiaphas, the reigning High Priest, was certainly informed of this miraculous event. Thus Theophilus had first hand information about three miracles.
His father was the High Priest when Jesus appeared in the Temple at age twelve and amazed his audience with “his understanding and his answers.” Just his father as High Priest heard about this event, Theophilus heard about the event of Pentecost which occurred in the temple courtyard and may have been one of the “men of Judea” who “mocking said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’”
In “Others mockingly said,” it was also noted that this verse which includes “they are filled with new wine” is an allusion to the inclusio in 3 Maccabees 5:1-10 where the king made the elephants drunk by feeding them wine so that they would stampede and kill the Judeans who are his prisoners. Although 3 Maccabees is probably a satire, it is unmistakably clear that message is that God saved them. Thus the allusion to the drinking elephants is quite effective.
Thus it is clear that Luke is mocking Theophilus who has more first hand knowledge than any of us, yet he still does not believe in the saving power of God. The significance of the mocking is clear that both Luke and Theophilus are contemporaries of Jesus and the eyewitnesses.
Luke is in dialogue with his Reader, Most Excellent Theophilus, the High Priest.
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