While the BST series claims not to be a commentary series, many of the New Testament volumes follow a typical verse by verse approach. By contrast, the volumes covering Old Testament books take a broader view of the overall flow of a book, highlighting its major themes without necessarily touching on every verse or discussing all the interpretational or theological issues that are raised. Michael Wilcock’s volume on Luke is very much in the latter style.
The author acknowledges from the outset that this is an intentionally brief volume majoring on exposition rather than exegesis. There are no prolonged defences of traditional authorship or historicity. Neither is there more than a few passing references to what is and isn’t found in the other gospel records. Controversial or complicated passages are noted as such, but not explored in any depth. The introduction is particularly short, although this is compensated by an extended first chapter on 1:1-4. After that, the pace picks up considerably, and he begins by analysing Luke’s interesting literary style in the birth narrative.
Rather than treating each parable, miracle or teaching separately, Wilcock prefers to group them together and demonstrate what common themes are to be found in all of them. He is primarily concerned with grasping Luke’s flow of thought and discovering why he arranged the material in the way he did. This means that sections that you might expect to find a long section of comments on (e.g. the Lord’s prayer) are covered in only a few sentences. It also means that the book is not suitable as a reference for those who want an explanation of an individual pericope.
However, this book does do a good job of fulfilling the stated aim of the series – to highlight “the message of” a particular book. Luke’s portrayal of Jesus as the healer and saviour for all nations is at the forefront throughout the book. Also, in keeping with the rest of the BST series, practical and theological application is very important, and nowhere more so than in the chapter on the cross. Wilcock strongly disagrees with any suggestion that Luke had no theology of the cross.
If you want an overview of the book of Luke this is a good place to start. At 200 pages it is much more manageable than most commentaries on Luke. In fact it will serve well as a companion to other introductory level commentaries on Luke, which will leave out much of Wilcock’s treatment of the flow of thought in favour of cramming in more comments on individual verses.