1 Since many writers have undertaken to compose narratives about the facts established among us, 2 just as the original eyewitnesses who became ministers of the message 3 have handed them down to us, I too, most excellent Theophilus, because I have carefully investigated them all from the start, have felt impressed to write them out in order for you 4 that you may better know the certainty of those things that you have been taught.
5 In the days when Herod was king of Judea, there was a priest whose name was Zechariah, who belonged to the division of Abijah. His wife was also a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 Now they were both upright in the sight of God, walking without reproach in all the Lord's commands and requirements. 7 And they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both of them were far advanced in years.
8 Once when he was acting as priest before God, when his division was on duty, it fell to his lot, 9 in accordance with the priests' customs, to go into the sanctuary of the Lord to burn the incense, 10 while all the throng of people were praying outside at the hour of the incense burning. 11 In the meantime, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was agitated, even overwhelmed with fear. 13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you must name him John. 14 This will bring you gladness and delight, and many will rejoice over his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must drink no wine nor strong drink, and so he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his birth. 16 And he will turn many of Israel's descendants to the Lord their God. 17 He will go before Him in the spirit and the power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the upright, to make ready for the Lord a people perfectly prepared."
18 Then Zechariah said to the angel, "How shall I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is far advanced in years."
19 The angel answered him, "I am Gabriel; I stand in the very presence of God. I have been sent to talk with you and to tell you this good news. 20 Now you will keep silent and be unable to talk until the day when this takes place, because you did not believe what I told you, for it will be fulfilled at the proper time."
21 Meanwhile the people kept waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the sanctuary. 22 But when he came out, he could not speak to them, and so they knew that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. Meanwhile he kept on making signs to them, and remained dumb. 23 But when the period of his service was over, he went back to his home.
24 So after this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, 25 "This is what the Lord has done for me when He smiled upon me to take away my disgrace among men."
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin there engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 So the angel came to her home and said, "Congratulations, you highly favored woman! The Lord be with you!" 29 But she was agitated at what he said, and began to ponder what this greeting meant. 30 Then the angel said, "Stop being afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Listen! You will become pregnant and bear a son, and you must 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 the house of Jacob forever; His reign will have no end."
35 Then the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, and so your child will be called holy, the Son of God.
36 And listen! your relative, Elizabeth, has herself too become pregnant, although she is old, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing is ever impossible for God."
38 Then Mary said, "I am the Lord's slave. May what you say take place with me." Then the angel left her.
39 Now in those days Mary got up and hurried off to the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she went to Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped within her. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and with a loud shout she said: "Blessed are you among women, And blessed is your child!
43 Why is this privilege mine, to have the mother of my Lord come to me? 44 For as soon as your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy within me! 45 Blessed is she who has believed, for what is promised to her by the Lord will be fulfilled."
46 Then Mary said: "My soul extols the Lord; 47 my spirit exults in God my Saviour; 48 for He has smiled upon His slave in her lowly station, for from this day all ages will count me happy! 49 For the Almighty has done wonders for me, and holy is His name! 50 He shows His mercy from age to age to those who fear him. 51 He has done mighty deeds with His arm. He has scattered those that are proud in the purpose of their hearts. 52 He has dethroned monarchs and exalted the poor. 53 He has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands. 54 He has helped His servant Israel, so as to remember mercy, 55 as He promised our forefathers, Abraham and his descendants forever."
56 Now Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned home. 57 So it was time for Elizabeth to bear a child, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and so they were rejoicing with her.
59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they tried to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But his mother said, "Never! But he must be named John."
61 Then they said to her, "There is no one among your relatives that bears that name." 62 So they began to make signs to his father to find out what he might wish him to be named. 63 Then he asked for a writing-tablet, and wrote, "His name is John." And they were all astonished. 64 Then the use of his voice and tongue was at once restored,: and he began to speak, and continued to praise God. 65 And all the neighbors were overwhelmed with awe, and all over the hill country of Judea these things were being talked, 66 and all who heard them kept them in their hearts, and said, "What then is this child to be?" for the hand of the Lord was with him.
67 Now his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he uttered the following prophecy:
68 "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for He has come and brought His people deliverance; 69 and He has made a mighty Saviour for us in the house of His servant David, 70 "as He promised by the lips of His ancient prophets, 71 deliverance from our foes and from the hands of all who hate us, 72 to show mercy to our forefathers, and carry out His sacred covenant, 73 the oath which He swore to our forefather Abraham, 74 to grant us deliverance from the dreaded hand of our foes, so that we could serve Him 75 in holiness and uprightness In His own presence all our days. 76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to make ready His ways, 77 to give 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 those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."