Vv 1-2. It was now the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, the Roman emperor. Pontius Pilate was governor over Judea; Herod Antipas was ruler over Galilee; his brother Philip was ruler over Iturea and Traconitis; Lysanias was ruler over Abilene. Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests. At this time a message from God came to John son of Zechariah, who was living in the wilderness.
Luke – you are a very precise historian! You did your research, you noted the dates and circumstances, you investigated what was going on in Rome as well as locally in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. You even discovered the names of the Jewish hierarchy and the civil authorities. You knew it was important to set the Christian story in the events of secular history, demonstrating the factual accuracy of what you recorded.
(In fact, today I have spared you the task of reading the whole of this chapter which traces Jesus’ ancestry right back to Adam – including v 32 which simply records ‘David was the son of Jesse. Jesse was the son of Obed. Obed was the son of Boaz.‘ Luke, the Gentile doctor and author did his Jewish research very thoroughly – and without the use of Google and the Ancestry website!)
Luke discovered that the story of Ruth and Boaz was no fairy story engraved in Jewish memories by the passing of time. Here were real people, part of the fabric of the Jewish nation, and part of the pre-history story of Jesus.
We do well to remember that our Christian faith has a firm historical basis. The people and the events recorded are properly set in a known culture with the data linking in with history outside the Bible. When people challenge our faith on historical grounds, we have good evidence to assert that Bible history is reliable. That does not make faith a logical step of course – faith is faith and includes what is a personal step of saying ‘I will follow Jesus’. We can take that step however knowing that we have good reasons for doing so.