Lukan Repetition

I’ve noticed, as I’ve been studying Luke, that he tends to repeat similar stories and themes more than once. This is quite a change from Mark, who carries on at such a good clip that he sometimes seems to barely have time to say things once – immediately! at once! and then! immediately!

Luke, on the other hand, appears to be taking his time. He wants you to understand this man Jesus, who he was and what he taught. To that end he picks his themes and dwells on them, using the repetition for emphasis. In Luke’s gospel I also feel that I catch a glimpse of Jesus the itinerant preacher, who makes a point in more than one way and grabs on to favorite pictures to teach more than one principle and never says the same thing twice in quite the same way.

Here are the repetitions I have noticed, with minimal commentary:

  • The disciples argue over who is the greatest (9:46-48, 22:24-27)
  • Jesus heals on the Sabbath (6:6-11, 13:10-12, 14:1-6)
    Each time, Jesus gives an argument from the law about why this is permitted.
  • Jesus sends out the disciples (9:1-6,10 – the twelve, 10:1-12,17-20 – the seventy two)
  • Jesus laments over Jerusalem (13:33-35, 19:41-44)
  • Jesus is invited to dine at a Pharisee’s house (7:36, 11:37, 14:1)
  • Jesus dines at a tax collector's house (5:29 - Levi, 19:5 - Zacchaeus)
  • Jesus heals a leper (5:12-13, 17:11-18)
  • Nothing is hidden that will not be revealed (8:17, 12:2-3)
  • Acknowledging Jesus before men (9:26, 12:8-9)
    These two passages complement each other nicely, with the first focused on the negative (if you are ashamed of Jesus, he will be ashamed of you) and the other on the positive (if you acknowledge Jesus before men, He will acknowledge you).
  • He who is faithful in little is faithful in much (16:10-12, 19:17ff)
    In this case Luke presents a teaching of Jesus once as a saying and once as a parable.
  • To the one who has, more will be given (8:18, 19:26)
    This is parallel to the previous point, and helps to explain it. He who is faithful will be given more, and he who is unfaithful will have what he has taken from him.
  • The Pharisee's outrage at Jesus forgiving sins (5:20-21, 7:48-49)
  • Jesus raises a young child from the dead (7:11-17, 8:50-56)
  • Jesus praying alone with sleepy disciples (9:28-32, 22:39-46)
  • Jesus teaches that this generation is worse than, and will be judged by, pagan nations (10:13-15, 11:30-32)
  • Take up your cross and follow me (9:23, 14:27)
  • Jesus tells a parable about persistence in prayer (11:5-9, 18:8)
  • Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted (14:11, 18:14)
  • Jesus tells a parable about a dead rich man (12:16-20, 16:19-31)
    This one is more similar in main characters than in teaching. Jesus uses a similar idea to illustrate two different teachings, much as he uses a mustard seed for two different analogies (13:19, 17:6).

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