Dedication to Theophilus
1Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us, 2just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, 3it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closelya for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theoph'ilus, 4that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed.
The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold
5In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechari'ah,b of the division of Abi'jah; and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
8Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12And Zechari'ah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechari'ah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
14And you will have joy and gladness,
and many will rejoice at his birth;
15for he will be great before the Lord,
and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink,
and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit,
even from his mother's womb.
16And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God,
17and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Eli'jah,
to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,
and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,
to make ready for the Lord a people prepared."
18And Zechari'ah said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." 19And the angel answered him, "I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. 20And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time." 21And the people were waiting for Zechari'ah, and they wondered at his delay in the temple. 22And when he came out, he could not speak to them, and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he made signs to them and remained dumb. 23And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
24After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she hid herself, saying, 25"Thus the Lord has done to me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men."
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, "Hail, full of grace,c the Lord is with you!"d 29But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. 30And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High;
and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
33and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever;
and of his kingdom there will be no end."
34And Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no husband?" 35And the angel said to her,
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you;
therefore the child to be borne will be called holy,
the Son of God.
36And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37For with God nothing will be impossible." 38And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40and she entered the house of Zechari'ah and greeted Elizabeth. 41And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would bef a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." 46And Mary said,
Mary's Song of Praise
"My soul magnifies the Lord,
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;
49for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50And his mercy is on those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51He has shown strength with his arm,
he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,
52he has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree;
53he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent empty away.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his posterity for ever."
56And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.
The Birth of John the Baptist
57Now the time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son. 58And her neighbors and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zechari'ah after his father, 60but his mother said, "Not so; he shall be called John." 61And they said to her, "None of your kindred is called by this name." 62And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he would have him called. 63And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, "His name is John." And they all marveled. 64And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea; 66and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, "What then will this child be?" For the hand of the Lord was with him.
67And his father Zechari'ah was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying,
68"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people,
69and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
70as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71that we should be saved from our enemies,
and from the hand of all who hate us;
72to perform the mercy promised to our fathers,
and to remember his holy covenant,
73the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, 74to grant us
that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life.
76And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
78through the tender mercy of our God,
when the day shall dawn upong us from on high
79to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace."
80And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel.