1 Many writers have undertaken to compose accounts of the movement which has developed among us, 2 just as the original eye-witnesses who became teachers of the message have handed it down to us. 3 For that reason, Theophilus, and because I have investigated it all carefully from the beginning, I have determined to write a connected account of it for Your Excellency, 4 so that you may be reliably informed about the things you have been taught.
5 In the days when Herod was king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah who belonged to the division of Abijah. His wife was also a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 They were both upright in the sight of God, blamelessly observing all the Lord's commands and requirements. 7 They had no children, for Elizabeth was barren; and they were both advanced in life.
8 Once when he was acting as priest before God, when his division was on duty, 9 it fell to his lot, according to the priests' practice, to go into the sanctuary of the Lord and burn the incense, 10 while all the throng of people was outside, praying at the hour of the incense offering. 11 And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him he was startled and overcome with fear. 13 And the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to name him John. 14 This will bring gladness and delight to you, and many will rejoice over his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will drink no wine or strong drink, but he will be filled with the holy Spirit from his very birth, 16 and he will turn many of Israel's descendants to the Lord their God. 17 He will go before him with the spirit and the power of Elijah, to reconcile fathers to their children, and to bring the disobedient back to the wisdom of upright men, to make a people perfectly ready for the Lord."
18 Zechariah said to the angel, "How am I to know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in life."
19 The angel answered, "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 Now you will keep silent and be unable to speak until the day when this happens, because you have not believed what I have said, for it will all be fulfilled in due time."
21 The people were waiting for Zechariah, and wondering that he stayed so long in the sanctuary. 22 But when he came out he could not speak to them, and they knew that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. For his part, he kept making signs to them, and remained dumb. 23 And when his period of service was over, he went back to his home.
24 Soon afterward his wife Elizabeth began to expect a child, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months. 25 "This is what the Lord has done for me," she said, "now that he has deigned to remove the disgrace I have endured."
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a maiden there who was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The maiden's name was Mary. 28 And the angel went into the town and said to her, "Good morning, favored woman! The Lord be with you!" 29 But she was startled at what he said, and wondered what this greeting meant. 30 And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have gained God's approval. 31 You are to become a mother and you will 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. The Lord God will give him the throne of his forefather David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob's house forever; his reign will have no end."
35 The angel answered, "The holy Spirit will come over you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. For that reason your child will be called holy, and the Son of God.
36 And your relative, Elizabeth, although she is old, is going to give birth to a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing is ever impossible for God."
39 In those days Mary set out and hurried to the hill-country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she went to Zechariah's house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the babe stirred within her. And Elizabeth was filled with the holy Spirit 42 and she gave a great cry, and said, "You are the most favored of women, And blessed is your child!
43 Who am I, To have the mother of my Lord come to me? 44 "For the moment your greeting reached my ears, The child stirred with joy within me! 45 Blessed is she who has believed, For what the Lord has promised her will be fulfilled!"
46 And Mary said, "My heart extols the Lord, 47 My spirit exults in God my Savior. 48 For he has noticed his slave in her humble station, For from this time all the ages will think me favored! 49 "For the Almighty has done wonders for me, How holy his name is! 50 He shows his mercy age after age To those who fear him. 51 "He has done mighty deeds with his arm, He has routed the proud-minded, 52 He has dethroned monarchs and exalted the poor, 53 He has satisfied the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty-handed. 54 "He has helped his servant Israel, Remembering his mercy, 55 As he promised our forefathers To have mercy on Abraham and his descendants forever!"
56 So Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned home. 57 Now the time came for Elizabeth's child to be born, and she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard of the great mercy the Lord had shown her, and they came and congratulated her.
59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But his mother said, "No! He is to be named John."
61 They said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who bears that name." 62 But they made signs to the child's father and asked him what he wished to have the child named. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, "His name is John." 64 And they were all amazed. Then his voice and the use of his tongue were immediately restored, and he blessed God aloud. 65 And all their neighbors were overcome with fear, and all over the hill-country of Judea all these stories were told, 66 and everyone who heard them kept them in mind, and said, "What is this child going to be?" For the Lord's hand was with him.
67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the holy Spirit and he uttered a divine message, saying,
68 "Blessings on the Lord, the God of Israel, Because he has turned his attention to his people, and brought about their deliverance, 69 And he has produced a mighty Savior for us In the house of his servant David. 70 "By the lips of his holy prophets he promised of old to do this??71 To save us from our enemies and from the hands of all who hate us, 72 Thus showing mercy to our forefathers, And keeping his sacred agreement, 73 "And the oath that he swore to our forefather Abraham, 74 That we should be delivered from the hands of our enemies, 75 And should serve him in holiness and uprightness, unafraid, In his own presence all our lives. 76 "And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High, For you will go before the Lord to make his way ready, 77 Bringing his people the knowledge of salvation Through the forgiveness of their sins. 78 "Because the heart of our God is merciful, And so the day will dawn upon us from on high, 79 To shine on men who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, And guide our feet into the way of peace."