Luke Writes an Orderly Report
1Many people have attempted to write about the things that have taken place among us. 2Reports of these things were handed down to us. There were people who saw these things for themselves from the beginning. They saw them and then passed the word on. 3With this in mind, I myself have carefully looked into everything from the beginning. So I also decided to write down an orderly report of exactly what happened. I am doing this for you, most excellent Theophilus. 4I want you to know that the things you have been taught are true.
The Coming Birth of John the Baptist
5Herod was king of Judea. During the time he was ruling, there was a priest named Zechariah. He belonged to a group of priests named after Abijah. His wife Elizabeth also came from the family line of Aaron. 6Both of them did what was right in the sight of God. They obeyed all the Lord’s commands and rules faithfully. 7But they had no children, because Elizabeth was not able to have any. And they were both very old.
8One day Zechariah’s group was on duty. He was serving as a priest in God’s temple. 9He happened to be chosen, in the usual way, to go into the temple of the Lord. There he was supposed to burn incense. 10The time came for this to be done. All who had gathered to worship were praying outside.
11Then an angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah. The angel was standing at the right side of the incense altar. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was amazed and terrified. 13But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah. Your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will have a child. It will be a boy, and you must call him John. 14He will be a joy and delight to you. His birth will make many people very glad. 15He will be important in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or other such drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17And he will prepare the way for the Lord. He will have the same spirit and power that Elijah had. He will bring peace between parents and their children. He will teach people who don’t obey to be wise and do what is right. In this way, he will prepare a people who are ready for the Lord.”
18Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man, and my wife is old too.”
19The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I serve God. I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20And now you will have to be silent. You will not be able to speak until after John is born. That’s because you did not believe my words. They will come true at the time God has chosen.”
21During that time, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out of the temple. They wondered why he stayed there so long. 22When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple. They knew this because he kept gesturing to them. He still could not speak.
23When his time of service was over, he returned home. 24After that, his wife Elizabeth became pregnant. She stayed at home for five months. 25“The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days, he has been kind to me. He has taken away my shame among the people.”
The Coming Birth of Jesus
26In the sixth month after Elizabeth had become pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee. 27He was sent to a virgin. The girl was engaged to a man named Joseph. He came from the family line of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel greeted her and said, “The Lord has blessed you in a special way. He is with you.”
29Mary was very upset because of his words. She wondered what kind of greeting this could be. 30But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary. God is very pleased with you. 31You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must call him Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God. The Lord God will make him a king like his father David of long ago. 33The Son of the Most High God will rule forever over his people. They are from the family line of Jacob. That kingdom will never end.”
34“How can this happen?” Mary asked the angel. “I am a virgin.”
35The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come to you. The power of the Most High God will cover you. So the holy one that is born will be called the Son of God. 36Your relative Elizabeth will have a child even though she is old. People thought she could not have children. But she has been pregnant for six months now. 37That’s because what God says will always come true.”
38“I serve the Lord,” Mary answered. “May it happen to me just as you said it would.” Then the angel left her.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in Judea’s hill country. 40There she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby inside her jumped. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42In a loud voice she called out, “God has blessed you more than other women. And blessed is the child you will have! 43But why is God so kind to me? Why has the mother of my Lord come to me? 44As soon as I heard the sound of your voice, the baby inside me jumped for joy. 45You are a woman God has blessed. You have believed that the Lord would keep his promises to you!”
“My soul gives glory to the Lord.
47My spirit delights in God my Savior.
48He has taken note of me
even though I am not considered important.
From now on all people will call me blessed.
49The Mighty One has done great things for me.
His name is holy.
50He shows his mercy to those who have respect for him,
from parent to child down through the years.
51He has done mighty things with his powerful arm.
He has scattered those who are proud in their deepest thoughts.
52He has brought down rulers from their thrones.
But he has lifted up people who are not considered important.
53He has filled with good things those who are hungry.
But he has sent away empty those who are rich.
54He has helped the people of Israel, who serve him.
He has always remembered to be kind
55to Abraham and his children down through the years.
He has done it just as he promised to our people of long ago.”
56Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months. Then she returned home.
John the Baptist Is Born
57The time came for Elizabeth to have her baby. She gave birth to a son. 58Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very kind to her. They shared her joy.
59On the eighth day, they came to have the child circumcised. They were going to name him Zechariah, like his father. 60But his mother spoke up. “No!” she said. “He must be called John.”
61They said to her, “No one among your relatives has that name.”
62Then they motioned to his father. They wanted to find out what he would like to name the child. 63He asked for something to write on. Then he wrote, “His name is John.” Everyone was amazed. 64Right away Zechariah could speak again. Right away he praised God. 65All his neighbors were filled with fear and wonder. Throughout Judea’s hill country, people were talking about all these things. 66Everyone who heard this wondered about it. And because the Lord was with John, they asked, “What is this child going to be?”
67John’s father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit. He prophesied,
68“Give praise to the Lord, the God of Israel!
He has come to his people and purchased their freedom.
69He has acted with great power and has saved us.
He did it for those who are from the family line of his servant David.
70Long ago holy prophets said he would do it.
71He has saved us from our enemies.
We are rescued from all who hate us.
72He has been kind to our people of long ago.
He has remembered his holy covenant.
73He made a promise to our father Abraham.
74He promised to save us from our enemies.
Then we could serve him without fear.
75He wants us to be holy and godly as long as we live.
76“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High God.
You will go ahead of the Lord to prepare the way for him.
77You will tell his people how they can be saved.
You will tell them that their sins can be forgiven.
78All of that will happen because our God is tender and caring.
His kindness will bring the rising sun to us from heaven.
79It will shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death.
It will guide our feet on the path of peace.”
80The child grew up, and his spirit became strong. He lived in the desert until he appeared openly to Israel.
1Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled1:1 Or been surely believed among us, 2just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
The birth of John the Baptist foretold
5In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.
8Once when 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 go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshippers were praying outside.
11Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13But the angel said to him: ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16He will bring back many of the people of Israel 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 parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous – to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’
18Zechariah asked the angel, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well on in years.’
19The angel said to him, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.’
21Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realised he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.
23When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25‘The Lord has done this for me,’ she said. ‘In these days he has shown his favour and taken away my disgrace among the people.’
The birth of Jesus foretold
26In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’
29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. 31You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him 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 Jacob’s descendants for ever; his kingdom will never end.’
34‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’
35The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called1:35 Or So the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. 36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37For no word from God will ever fail.’
38‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her.
Mary visits Elizabeth
39At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted 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 child you will bear! 43But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44As 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 would fulfil his promises to her!’
46And Mary said:
‘My soul glorifies the Lord
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me –
holy is his name.
50His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55to Abraham and his descendants for ever,
just as he promised our ancestors.’
56Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
The birth of John the Baptist
57When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58Her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.
59On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60but his mother spoke up and said, ‘No! He is to be called John.’
61They said to her, ‘There is no-one among your relatives who has that name.’
62Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, ‘His name is John.’ 64Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65All the neighbours were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, ‘What then is this child going to be?’ For the Lord’s hand was with him.
67His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
68‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
69He has raised up a horn1:69 Horn here symbolises a strong king. of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
70(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us –
72to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant,
73the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
75in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.’
80And the child grew and became strong in spirit1:80 Or in the Spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.