1 Inasmuch as a number of writers have essayed to draw up a narrative of the established facts in our religion 2 exactly as these have been handed down to us by the original eyewitnesses who were in the service of the Gospel Message, 3 and inasmuch as I have gone carefully over them all myself from the very beginning, I have decided, O Theophilus, to write them out in order for your excellency, 4 to let you know the solid truth of what you have been taught.
5 In the days of Herod king of Judaea there was a priest called Zechariah, who belonged to the division of Abijah; he had a wife who belonged to the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 They were both just in the sight of God, blameless in their obedience to all the commands and regulations of God; 7 but they had no child, for Elizabeth was barren. Both of them were advanced in years.
8 Now while he was officiating before God in the due course of his division, 9 it fell to him by lot, as was the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense, 10 the mass of the people all remaining in prayer outside at the hour of incense. 11 And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him he was troubled, and fear fell on him; 13 but the angel said to him, "Fear not, Zechariah, your prayer has been heard; your wife Elizabeth will bear a son to you, and you must call his name John. 14 It will be joy and gladness for you, and many will rejoice over his birth: 15 for he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, he will drink neither wine nor strong drink, he will be filled with the holy Spirit from his very birth; 16 he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 he will go in front of Him with the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, turning the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make a people ready and prepared for the Lord."
18 Zechariah said to the angel, "But how am I to be sure of this? I am an old man myself, and my wife is advanced in years."
19 The angel replied, "I am Gabriel, I stand before God; I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 But you will be silent and unable to speak till the day this happens, because you have not believed what I told you; it will be accomplished, for all that, in due time."
21 Now the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering that he stayed so long inside the sanctuary. 22 When he did come out he could not speak to them, so they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary; he made signs to them and remained dumb. 23 Then, after his term of service had elapsed, he went home.
24 After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and for five months she concealed herself. 25 "The Lord has done this for me," she said, "he has now deigned to remove my reproach among men."
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazaret, 27 to a maiden who was betrothed to a man called Joseph, belonging to the house of David. The maiden's name was Mary. 28 The angel went in and said to her, "Hail, O favoured one! the Lord be with you!" 29 At this she was startled; she thought to herself, whatever can this greeting mean? 30 But the angel said to her, "Fear not, Mary, you have found favour with God. 31 You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great, he will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father; 33 he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and to his reign there will be no end."
34 "How can this be?" said Mary to the angel, "I have no husband."
35 The angel answered her, "The holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Most High will overshadow you; hence what is born will be called holy, Son of God.
36 Look, there is your kinswoman Elizabeth! Even she has conceived a son in her old age, and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month; 37 for with God nothing is ever impossible."
38 Mary said, "I am here to serve the Lord. Let it be as you have said." Then the angel went away.
39 In those days Mary started with haste for the hill-country, for a town of Judah; 40 she entered the house of Zechariah and saluted Elizabeth, 41 and when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leapt in her womb. Then Elizabeth was filled with the holy Spirit; 42 she called out with a loud cry, "Blessed among women are you, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
43 What have I done to have the mother of my Lord come to me? 44 Why, as soon as the sound of your salutation reached my ears, the babe leapt for joy within my womb. 45 And blessed is she who believed that the Lord's words to her would be fulfilled."
46 Then Mary said "My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 My spirit has joy in God my Saviour: 48 for he has considered the humiliation of his servant. From this time forth all generations will call me blessed, 49 for He who is Mighty has done great things for me. His name is holy, 50 his mercy is on generation after generation, for those who reverence him. 51 He has done a deed of might with his arm, he has scattered the proud with their purposes, 52 princes he has dethroned and the poor he has uplifted, 53 he has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty. 54 He has succoured his servant Israel, mindful of his mercy 55 as he promised our fathers, to have mercy on Abraham and his offspring for ever."
56 Mary stayed with her about three months and then returned home. 57 Now the time for Elizabeth's delivery had elapsed, and she gave birth to a son. 58 When her neighbours and kinsfolk heard of the Lord's great mercy to her they rejoiced with her,
59 and on the eighth day came to circumcise the child. They were going to call it by the name of its father Zechariah, 60 but the mother told them, "No, the child is to be called John."
61 They said to her, "None of your family is called by that name." 62 Then they made signs to the father, to find out what he wanted the child to be called, 63 and he asked for a writing-tablet and wrote down, "His name is John," to the astonishment of all. 64 Instantly his mouth was opened, his tongue loosed, and he spoke out blessing God. 65 Then fear fell on all their neighbours, and all these events were talked of through the whole of the hill-country of Judaea. 66 All who heard of it bore it in mind; they said, "Whatever will this child become?" For the hand of the Lord was indeed with him.
67 And Zechariah his father was filled with the holy Spirit; he prophesied in these words,
68 "Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel, for he has cared for his people and wrought them redemption; 69 he has raised up a strong saviour for us in the house of his servant David 70 as he promised of old by the lips of his prophets 71 to save us from our foes and from the hand of all who hate us, 72 to deal mercifully with our fathers and to be mindful of his holy covenant, 73 of the oath he swore to Abraham our father, 74 that freed from fear and from the hand of our foes we should worship him 75 in holiness and uprightness all our days within his presence. 76 And you, my child, shall be called a prophet of the Most High; for you shall go in front of the Lord to make his ways ready, 77 to bring his people the knowledge of salvation through the remission of their sins 78 by the tender mercy of our God, who will make the Dawn visit us from on high, 79 to shine on those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our steps into the way of peace."
80 And the child grew, he became strong in the Spirit and remained in the desert till the day when he made his appearance before Israel.