1 INASMUCH as many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative of those facts which are firmly believed among us,
2 just as those who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and who became bearers of the message handed them down to us;
3 it has seemed good to me also \'97 since I have followed everything from the beginning accurately \'97 to write a consecutive account for you, most excellent Theophilus,
4 so that you may know the exact truth in regard to the matters which you have been taught by word of mouth.
5 There was in the days of Herod, King of Judaea, a certain priest by the name of Zacharias, of the course of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
6 They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and regulations of the Lord blameless.
7 But they had no child, for Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.
8 It happened that as Zacharias was performing his priestly duties before God in the order of his course,
9 according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him to enter the Temple of the Lord and offer the incense.
10 All the congregation of people was in prayer outside, at the hour of incense.
11 There appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.
12 Zacharias, on seeing him, was alarmed and fear fell upon him.
13 But the angel said to him, "Do not fear, Zacharias, for your prayer has been heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear a son, and you will call his name John.
14 You will have joy and gladness and many will rejoice at his birth.
15 For he will be great before the Lord. He will not drink wine or strong drink. He will be full of the Holy Spirit even from his birth,
16 and many of the sons of Israel will he turn to the Lord their God.
17 He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for him."
18 Zacharias said to the angel, "By what proof shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years."
19 The angel answered, "I am Gabriel, who stands before the face of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to give you this good news.
20 And now you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that this comes to pass, because you have not believed my words, which will be fulfilled in their time."
21 The people were waiting for Zacharias and wondering at his staying so long in the Temple.
22 But when he came out, he could not speak to them, and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the Temple. He kept making signs to them and remained dumb.
23 When the days of his priestly service were finished, he went away to his home.
24 After these days Elizabeth his wife conceived and hid herself five months, saying,
25 "So has the Lord done for me in the days in which he has looked upon me to take away my reproach among men."
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
27 to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The name of the virgin was Mary.
28 The angel entered and said to her, "Hail, favored one, the Lord is with you!"
29 But she was alarmed at his words, and wondered what such a greeting could mean.
30 The angel said to her, "Do not fear, Mary; for you have found favor with God.
31 You will conceive in your womb and will bear a son, and you must call his name Jesus.
32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.
33 He will be king over the house of Jacob through the ages, and of his kingdom there will be no end."
34 But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am not united to a man?"
35 The angel replied, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Highest will overshadow you. For that reason the child that is begotten will be called holy, Son of God.
36 And, indeed, Elizabeth your relative, even she, has conceived a son, in her old age, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.
37 For "no word that comes from God will fail."
38 Mary said, "Here I am, the Lord's handmaid. Let it be to me according to your word." Then the angel left her.
39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill-country to a city of Judah,
40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.
41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the babe leapt in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit
42 and spoke out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
43 But why do I have the honor of having the mother of my Lord come to me?
44 For, indeed, when the sound of your greeting fell upon my ears, the babe leapt for joy in my womb.
45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a complete fulfillment of the things spoken to her from the Lord!"
46 Then Mary said: "My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
48 Because he has looked upon the low estate of his handmaid. Indeed, from this time all generations will call me blessed.
49 Because the Mighty One has done great things for me. Holy is his name.
50 His kindness is from generation to generation upon those who fear him.
51 He shows strength with his arm; He scatters the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He casts down princes from their thrones and raises up the lowly.
53 The hungry he fills with good things and the affluent he sends away empty.
54 He brings help to Israel his servant, mindful of kindness,
55 just as he promised our fathers, Abraham and his descendants, forever."
56 Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
57 When Elizabeth's due time came, she gave birth to a son.
58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great kindness to her, and they rejoiced with her.
59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they called him by the name of his father Zacharias.
60 But his mother said, "No, but he shall be called John."
61 They said to her, "There is no one of your family who is called by that name."
62 Then they made signs to his father to know what he wanted him called.
63 He asked for a tablet and wrote, "His name is John." They all wondered.
64 At once Zacharias's mouth was opened and his tongue loosed and he spoke, praising God.
65 Awe fell on all their neighbors, and in the whole hill-country of Judaea all these matters were talked about.
66 All who heard them laid them up in their minds, saying, "What then will this child be?" For the hand of the Lord was with him.
67 Zacharias, his father, was filled with the Holy Spirit and said prophetically:
68 "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel! For he has looked upon his people, and made deliverance for them.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David his servant,
70 As he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets of old,
71 Salvation from our enemies and from the hands of all those that hate us,
72 Dealing kindly with our forefathers, mindful of his holy covenant,
73 The oath which he swore to Abraham our father,
74 To grant that we, saved from the hands of our enemies, may serve him Without fear
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High. You will go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 To give the knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins,
78 Through the tender compassion of our God, With which the sunrise from on high will shine upon us;
79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the path of peace."
80 The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he lived in the wilds until the day of his appearance before Israel.