"Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." (Luke 6:36-37)
The Gospel of Luke is the third book of the New Testament. The author of this Gospel has sometimes been referred to as the "first Christian historian" for his detailed and well-ordered account of the life and ministry of Jesus. Despite the historic account given in the Gospel of Luke, however, it is clear that the text was first and foremost concerned with spiritual and theological issues.
Like the other three Gospels, the exact identity of the author of the Gospel of Luke is unknown. Some traditions link him to a traveling companion of Paul, but there is not really any hard evidence for this. At the beginning of the Gospel, Luke makes it clear that he was not an eyewitness to the events surrounding Jesus' death and resurrection, but he also emphasizes that he has received his information from those who were.
The author of Luke was an educated and skilled writer. Whatever sources he may have used, among them the Gospel of Mark and the "Q" source, they were incorporated into one, well-written narrative. The author was also clearly familiar with both the philosophy of the time and with the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible.
The composition of the Gospel of Luke likely happened sometime between 85 - 95 CE. Ancient tradition has held that the Gospel of Luke was written in Antioch, though there really is no knowing if this is truly the case. Modern scholars have also considered various Mediterranean locations as the place of its writing.
The Gospel of Luke addresses the theological and social issues of its time, a time when the burgeoning Christian community was trying to get organized and figure out who exactly was a Christian. It attempts to link the new Christian community with the religion and history of Israel. Most scholars think that Luke was a gentile Christian convert as well as a Jewish sympathizer. The Gospel of Luke appears to be directed at other Greek-speaking, gentile Christian converts, and it instructs them to practice Jewish piety.
The Gospel of Luke has been a source of great spiritual inspiration for Christians ever since it was written. It is full of motivating verses and words of encouragement that Christians have incorporated into their lives in order to become more loving and forgiving people. Perhaps one of the most widely shared and remembered quotes from this gospel can be found in Luke 6:36-37, when Jesus teaches his followers to:
"Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."
These two verses are a wonderful summation of Jesus' teachings throughout the four gospels. All who follow Him are called to practice mercy and forgiveness and to refrain from judgments and condemnation of others. The Gospel of Luke manages to pass on this message while preserving the integrity of the historical account of Jesus' life and ministry.