1 Since many people have attempted to write an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us,
2 just as they were passed down to us by those who had been eyewitnesses and servants of the word from the beginning,
3 I, too, have carefully investigated everything from the beginning and have decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,
4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
5 In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, and they lived blamelessly according to all of the commandments and regulations of the Lord.
7 They had no children because Elizabeth was barren and because both of them were getting on in years.
8 When Zechariah was serving with his division of priests in God's presence,
9 he was chosen by lot to go into the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense, according to the custom of the priests.
10 And the entire congregation of people was praying outside at the time when the incense was burned.
11 An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the incense altar.
12 When Zechariah saw him, he was shaken, and fear overwhelmed him.
13 But the angel said to him, “Stop being afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to name him John.
14 You will have joy and gladness, and many people will rejoice at his birth.
15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will never drink wine or any strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.
16 He will bring many of Israel's descendants back to the Lord their God.
17 He is the one who will go before the Lord with the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, and to prepare the people to be ready for the Lord.”
18 Then Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I know this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.”
19 The angel answered him, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.
20 But because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at the proper time, you will become silent and unable to speak until the day this happens.”
21 Meanwhile, the people kept waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed in the sanctuary so long.
22 But when he did come out, he was unable to speak to them. Then they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept motioning to them but remained unable to speak.
23 When the days of his service were over, he went home.
24 After this, his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and remained in seclusion for five months. She said,
25 “This is what the Lord did for me when he looked favorably on me and took away my public disgrace.”
26 Now in the sixth month of her pregnancy, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,
27 to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary.
28 The angel came to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you!”
29 She was startled by his statement and tried to figure out what his greeting meant.
30 Then the angel told her, “Stop being afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
31 Listen! You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus.
32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his forefather David.
33 He will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.”
34 Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not had relations with a man?”
35 The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come over you, and the power of the Most High will cover you. Therefore, the child will be holy and will be called the Son of God.
36 And listen! Elizabeth, your relative, has herself conceived a son in her old age. This is the sixth month for the woman who was said to be barren.
37 For nothing is impossible for God.”
38 Then Mary said, “Truly I am the Lord's servant. Let everything you have said happen to me.” Then the angel left her.
39 At this time Mary set out hurriedly for a Judean city in the hill country.
40 She went into Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth.
41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby jumped in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit
42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, “How blessed are you among women, and how blessed is the fruit of your womb!
43 Why should this happen to me, to have the mother of my Lord visit me!
44 For as soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb jumped for joy.
45 How blessed is this woman for believing that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled!”
46 Then Mary said, “My soul praises the greatness of the Lord!
47 My spirit exults in God, my Savior,
48 for he has looked favorably on his humble servant. From now on, all generations will call me blessed,
49 because the Almighty has done great things for me.His name is holy.
50 His mercy lasts from generation to generationfor those who fear him.
51 He displayed his mighty power with his arm. He scattered people who were proud in mind and heart.
52 He pulled powerful rulers from their thronesand lifted up humble people.
53 He filled hungry people with good thingsand sent rich people away with nothing.
54 He helped his servant Israel,remembering to be merciful,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors—to Abraham and his descendants forever.”
56 Now Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.
57 When the time came for Elizabeth to have her child, she gave birth to a son.
58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.
59 On the eighth day they went to circumcise the child. They were going to name him Zechariah after his father,
60 but his mother said, “Absolutely not! He must be named John.”
61 Their friends said to her, “None of your relatives has that name.”
62 So they motioned to the baby's father to see what he wanted to name him.
63 He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And everyone was amazed.
64 Suddenly, Zechariah's mouth was opened, his tongue was set free, and he began to speak and to praise God.
65 Fear came over all their neighbors, and throughout the hill country of Judea all these things were being discussed.
66 All who heard about it debated in their minds what had happened and said, “What will this child become?” For it was obvious that the hand of the Lord was with him.
67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel!He has taken care of his people and has set them free.
69 He has raised up a mighty Savior for usfrom the family of his servant David,
70 just as he promised long ago through the mouth of his holy prophets
71 that he would save us from our enemiesand from the grip of all who hate us.
72 He has shown mercy to our ancestorsand remembered his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham. He granted us
74 deliverance from our enemies' gripso that we could serve him without fear
75 and be holy and righteous before him all of our days.
76 And you, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High. For you will go ahead of the Lord to prepare his ways
77 and to give his people the knowledge of salvationthrough the forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of the tender mercy of our God,the dawn from on high has broken upon us,
79 to shine on those who sit in darkness and in death's shadow,and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
80 Now the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit. He lived in the wilderness until the day he appeared in Israel.