Many have undertaken to compose an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2just as they were handed down to us by the initial eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3Therefore, having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
Gabriel Foretells John’s Birth
5In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah, and whose wife Elizabeth was a daughter of Aaron. 6Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and decrees of the Lord. 7But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well along in years.
8One day while Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10And at the hour of the incense offering, the whole congregation was praying outside.
13But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. 14He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He shall never take wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb. 16Many of the sons of Israel he will turn back to the Lord their God. 17And he will go on before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their childrena and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
18“How can I be sure of this?” Zechariah asked the angel. “I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years.”
19“I am Gabriel,” replied the angel. “I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20And now you will be silent and unable to speak until the day this comes to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.”
21Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he took so long in the temple. 22When he came out and was unable to speak to them, they realized he had seen a vision in the temple. He kept making signs to them but remained speechless. 23And when the days of his service were complete, he returned home.
24After these days, his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. She declared, 25“The Lord has done this for me. In these days He has shown me favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”
Gabriel Foretells Jesus’ Birth
26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin pledged in marriage to a man named Joseph, who was of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel appeared to her and said, “Greetings,b you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.c”
29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30So the angel told her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31Behold, you will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, 33and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever. His kingdom will never end!”
34“How can this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be bornd will be called the Son of God. 36Look, even Elizabeth your relative has conceived a son in her old age, and she who was called barren is in her sixth month. 37For no word from God will ever fail.e”
38“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it happen to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42In a loud voice she exclaimed, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43And why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44For as soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord’s word to her will be fulfilled.”
(1 Samuel 2:1–11)
46Then Mary said:
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
48For He has looked with favor on the humble state of His servant.
49For the Mighty One has done great things for me.
50His mercy extends to those who fear Him,
51He has performed mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who are proud
52He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
53He has filled the hungry with good things,
54He has helped His servant Israel,
55as He promised to our fathers,
56Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
The Birth of John the Baptist
65All their neighbors were filled with awe, and people throughout the hill country of Judea were talking about these events. 66And all who heard this wondered in their hearts and asked, “What then will this child become?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.
67Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
68“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
69He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
70as He spoke through His holy prophets,
71salvation from our enemies
72to show mercy to our fathers
73the oath He swore to our father Abraham,
to grant us 74deliverance from hostile hands,
75in holiness and righteousness before Him
76And you, child, will be called
a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord
77to give to His people the knowledge of salvation
78because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the Dawnf will visit us from on high,
79to shine on those who live in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet
into the path of peace.”