1 Now1 many have undertaken to compile an account2 of the things3 that have been fulfilled4 among us, 2 like the accounts5 passed on6 to us by those who were eyewitnesses and servants of the word7 from the beginning.8 3 So9 it seemed good to me as well,10 because I have followed11 all things carefully from the beginning, to write an orderly account12 for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know for certain13 the things you were taught.14
Birth Announcement of John the Baptist
5 During the reign15 of Herod16 king of Judea, there lived a priest named Zechariah who belonged to17 the priestly division of Abijah,18 and he had a wife named Elizabeth,19 who was a descendant of Aaron.20 6 They21 were both righteous in the sight of God, following22 all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.23 7 But they did not have a child, because Elizabeth was barren,24 and they were both very old.25
8 Now26 while Zechariah27 was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty,28 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood,29 to enter30 the holy place31 of the Lord and burn incense. 10 Now32 the whole crowd33 of people were praying outside at the hour of the incense offering.34 11 An35 angel of the Lord,36 standing on the right side of the altar of incense, appeared37 to him. 12 And Zechariah, visibly shaken when he saw the angel,38 was seized with fear.39 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard,40 and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son; you41 will name him John.42 14 Joy and gladness will come43 to you, and many will rejoice at44 his birth,45 15 for he will be great in the sight of46 the Lord. He47 must never drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth.48 16 He49 will turn50 many of the people51 of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go as forerunner before the Lord52 in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,53 to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for him.”
18 Zechariah54 said to the angel, “How can I be sure of this?55 For I am an old man, and my wife is old as well.”56 19 The57 angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stands58 in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring59 you this good news. 20 And now,60 because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time,61 you will be silent, unable to speak,62 until the day these things take place.”
21 Now63 the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they began to wonder64 why he was delayed in the holy place.65 22 When66 he came out, he was not able to speak to them. They67 realized that he had seen a vision68 in the holy place,69 because70 he was making signs to them and remained unable to speak.71 23 When his time of service was over,72 he went to his home.
24 After some time73 his wife Elizabeth became pregnant,74 and for five months she kept herself in seclusion.75 She said,76 25 “This is what77 the Lord has done for me at the time78 when he has been gracious to me,79 to take away my disgrace80 among people.”81
Birth Announcement of Jesus the Messiah
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy,82 the angel Gabriel83 was sent by84 God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,85 27 to a virgin engaged86 to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of David,87 and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The88 angel89 came90 to her and said, “Greetings, favored one,91 the Lord is with you!”92 29 But93 she was greatly troubled94 by his words and began to wonder about the meaning of this greeting.95 30 So96 the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid,97 Mary, for you have found favor98 with God! 31 Listen:99 You will become pregnant100 and give birth to101 a son, and you will name him102 Jesus.103 32 He104 will be great,105 and will be called the Son of the Most High,106 and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father107 David. 33 He108 will reign over the house of Jacob109 forever, and his kingdom will never end.” 34 Mary110 said to the angel, “How will this be, since I have not had sexual relations with111 a man?” 35 The angel replied,112 “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow113 you. Therefore the child114 to be born115 will be holy;116 he will be called the Son of God.
36 “And look,117 your relative118 Elizabeth has also become pregnant with119 a son in her old age – although she was called barren, she is now in her sixth month!120 37 For nothing121 will be impossible with God.” 38 So122 Mary said, “Yes,123 I am a servant124 of the Lord; let this happen to me125 according to your word.”126 Then127 the angel departed from her.
Mary and Elizabeth
39 In those days128 Mary got up and went hurriedly into the hill country, to a town of Judah,129 40 and entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When130 Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped131 in her132 womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.133 42 She134 exclaimed with a loud voice,135 “Blessed are you among women,136 and blessed is the child137 in your womb! 43 And who am I138 that the mother of my Lord should come and visit me? 44 For the instant139 the sound of your greeting reached my ears,140 the baby in my womb leaped for joy.141 45 And blessed142 is she who believed that143 what was spoken to her by144 the Lord would be fulfilled.”145
Mary’s Hymn of Praise
46 And Mary146 said,147
“My soul exalts148 the Lord,149 47 and my spirit has begun to rejoice150 in God my Savior, 48 because he has looked upon the humble state of his servant.151 For152 from now on153 all generations will call me blessed,154 49 because he who is mighty155 has done great things for me, and holy is his name; 50 from156 generation to generation he is merciful157 to those who fear158 him. 51 He has demonstrated power159 with his arm; he has scattered those whose pride wells up from the sheer arrogance160 of their hearts. 52 He has brought down the mighty161 from their thrones, and has lifted up those of lowly position;162 53 he has filled the hungry with good things,163 and has sent the rich away empty.164 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering165 his mercy,166 55 as he promised167 to our ancestors,168 to Abraham and to his descendants169 forever.”
56 So170 Mary stayed with Elizabeth171 about three months172 and then returned to her home.
The Birth of John
57 Now the time came173 for Elizabeth to have her baby,174 and she gave birth to a son. 58 Her175 neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown176 great mercy to her, and they rejoiced177 with her.
59 On178 the eighth day179 they came to circumcise the child, and they wanted to name180 him Zechariah after his father. 60 But181 his mother replied,182 “No! He must be named183 John.”184 61 They185 said to her, “But186 none of your relatives bears this name.”187 62 So188 they made signs to the baby’s189 father,190 inquiring what he wanted to name his son.191 63 He192 asked for a writing tablet193 and wrote,194 “His name is John.” And they were all amazed.195 64 Immediately196 Zechariah’s197 mouth was opened and his tongue198 released,199 and he spoke, blessing God. 65 All200 their neighbors were filled with fear, and throughout the entire hill country of Judea all these things were talked about. 66 All201 who heard these things202 kept them in their hearts,203 saying, “What then will this child be?”204 For the Lord’s hand205 was indeed with him.
Zechariah’s Praise and Prediction
67 Then206 his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied,207
68 “Blessed208 be the Lord God of Israel, because he has come to help209 and has redeemed210 his people. 69 For211 he has raised up212 a horn of salvation213 for us in the house of his servant David,214 70 as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from long ago,215 71 that we should be saved216 from our enemies,217
and from the hand of all who hate us.
72 He has done this218 to show mercy219 to our ancestors,220 and to remember his holy covenant221 – 73 the oath222 that he swore to our ancestor223 Abraham. 74 that we, being rescued from the hand of our225 enemies, may serve him without fear,226 75 in holiness and righteousness227 before him for as long as we live.228 76 And you, child,229 will be called the prophet230 of the Most High.231 For you will go before232 the Lord to prepare his ways,233 77 to give his people knowledge of salvation234 through the forgiveness235 of their sins. 78 Because of236 our God’s tender mercy237 the dawn238 will break239 upon us from on high 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,240 to guide our feet into the way241 of peace.”
80 And the child kept growing242 and becoming strong243 in spirit, and he was in the wilderness244 until the day he was revealed245 to Israel.