Verse 1 Luke admits he is not the first. Scholars understand that Luke used both Mark and Q, a Sayings Source of some 252 verses, shared with Matthew. He has also his own source, L, as well as a capacity to create and /or radically “adjust” material.
We do not really know who the writer was. A composite picture can be gleaned from Luke-Acts: Well-educated; well-travelled; writes good and varied Greek; someone at home in the upper middle class of the Hellenistic world; for convenience “Luke”, but really unknown. The oldest manuscript of Luke is P75, dating from c. 175-225 and now in the Vatican Library. It preserves Lk 3:18-24:53.
Verse 2 He also acknowledges he is not an eyewitness “from the beginning”. Handed down is a technical term for tradition, so we are to think of second and third generation traditions.
Verse 3 Theophilus (lit. “loved by God”) may be an individual of some status (cf. Acts 23;36) or any intended reader, as a “friend of God.” The evangelist offers an “orderly account” by which he does not mean a historical sequence as we would intend it. He is motived by faith and his literary choices are dictated by theology. A good example would be his location of this scene at Nazareth at the start of Jesus’ ministry.
Verse 4 The motive behind the Gospel is to ground the faith of the believers.
Verse 14 The ministry is Jesus is powered by the Spirit—very important in Luke and in Acts. Already in Luke 1-4, everything is the initiative of the Spirit Luke 1:15, 17, 35, 41, 47, 67, 80; 2:25–27; 3:16, 22; 4:1.
Verse 15 Notice their synagogues, indicating a time after the parting of the ways between synagogue and church. The synagogue dates to the time of the Exile, when the exiles needed a gathering place (without priest or sacrifice).
Verse 16 From Luke 1-2, we learn Jesus was brought up at Nazareth (Luke 1:26; 2:4, 39, 51; 4:16). He is known as Jesus of Nazareth (4:34; 18:37; 24:19).
Verse 17 The telling slows down to create suspense.
Verse 18 In Isaiah, it is not the prophet who is speaking but the Servant, predicted by the prophet. The citation is abbreviated and a threatening tone eliminated. In this Gospel, Jesus is portrayed as a prophet-martyr, whose death can be understood in the light of persecution of the prophets of old (see, for example, Luke 11:47, 49–50; 13:28, 33–34; 20:6; 24:19, 25, 27, 44). The term anointed in Greek gives us our word Christ (Messiah).
Verse 19 Again, the story telling slows down to augment our anticipation.
Verse 20 The single sentence is emblematic of Jesus as the fulfilment of the Scriptures, an important theme in Luke-Acts (Luke 1:1, 20, 45; 4:21; 21:22, 24; 22:16, 37; 24:44). “Today”, the now of salvation, is also a vital component of the proclamation of Luke: cf. Zacchaeus and the Good Thief. In Luke, nothing is accidental: Jesus’ very first word in this Gospel is “today.” I.e. a new time has started, a new era of salvation, under the banner of the Year of Jubilee.