Ottavio Vannini, San Giovanni che indica il Cristo a Sant'Andrea (Source: Wikipedia)
Ottavio Vannini, San Giovanni che indica il Cristo a Sant’Andrea (Source: Wikipedia)

This post is sort of like chicken-scratch. I’ve noticed some things, so I am writing them down here in case anyone has any additional insights to share. I’ve noticed that in Luke-Acts there seems to be a greater effort to reconcile the disciples of Jesus and John than there is in Matthew, Mark, and especially John. For example, while there is no doubt that Luke wants to exalt Jesus, he is very careful to present Jesus as the natural successor of John, the one to whom John pointed others. Only Luke provides a narrative about John’s conception and birth paralleling him with Jesus in Luke 1:5-2:52. Both receive an annunciation. Both have unique births (to a barren woman, to a virgin girl). Both are circumcised and named.

In Luke 3:1-6 Jesus and John come together in a scene where the setting is “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar…” In other words, Jesus and John announce the Kingdom in the same political setting under Roman occupation.

In Luke 5:33-39—unlike Mark 2:18-22 and Matthew 9:14-17—the challenge to Jesus regarding his disciples not fasting comes from the Scribes and Pharisees alone.

Luke 7:18-30 parallels (follows?) Matthew 11:1-15 where John sends his disciples to double-check with Jesus regarding his messianic identity (which he confirms) and Jesus publicly praises John calling him the greatest person ever born. In Luke 16:16 Jesus marks John as the end of the old age and the beginning of the Kingdom of God.

In Luke 3:7-18 John says that the Coming One will baptize in “holy Spirit and fire.” In Acts 1:4-5 this has become the message of the resurrected Jesus: “…John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the holy Spirit not many days from now.” When Peter and the disciples decide to replace the apostate Judas their criteria is that the person must have been with Jesus since the beginning, since the days of John’s baptism (1:22).

Then, of course, in Acts 18:24-19:5 Luke presents Apollos’ maturation and that of the “disciples” in Ephesus as taking place when they build upon what they know of John’s message by transferring their allegiance to Jesus. The disciples get baptized unto Jesus (which probably explains, in part, why Luke is so emphatic about mentioning Jesus’ name in association with baptism). When the disciples do this they are baptized with the holy Spirit promised by John, but not until then. Implicit in the narrative of Acts 19:1-5 is the idea that John’s baptism is insufficient.

Scholars have noticed that Luke seems to “catholicize” in Acts, primarily through his portrait of Paul as the natural extension of Peter to the pagan world. I have come to believe that there is another lesser discussed group: those who had some sort of allegiance to John. In Acts 19:1-5 these people are “disciples,” and Luke always uses that word for disciples of Jesus (or Paul), so it is probable that like Apollos these people have some sense of Jesus’ importance, but they had partial knowledge. For Luke, one way to tidy things up was to encourage those who were loyal to John to go a step further by pledging allegiance to Jesus.