1 Since many have attempted to write an orderly narrative of what has happened among us, 2 insofar as those who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and servants of the Word handed them down to us, 3 I therefore decided that having followed everything with care for a long time, that I should write an orderly narrative for you, O Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the full truth about the things you have been told.
5 In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah, and he had a wife who was a descendant of Aaron, whose name was Elizabeth. 6 They were both righteous in God’s sight, living impeccably according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord, 7 but they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren and they were both well advanced in years.
8 Once, when he was serving as priest before God on the roster of his division, 9 Zechariah was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the inner sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. 10 When the time came for the incense offering, with the entire assembly of the people praying outside, 11 and an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right hand side of the altar of incense. 12 When he saw him, Zechariah was shocked and overcome by fear.
13 But the angel said to him,
‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you must give him the name John. 14 He will be a joy and a delight to you, and to many people who will rejoice at his coming, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 In the spirit and power of Elijah he will go ahead before the Lord, to ‘turn the hearts of the parents to the children’, and the disobedient by the wisdom of the righteous, to prepare a people who are ready for the Lord.’
18 Zachariah asked the angel,
‘How can I know this? I am an old man and my wife is well on in years.’
19 The angel replied,
‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 Now look! Because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time, you will be silent and not able to speak until the day these things happen!’
21 Meanwhile, the people were anxiously waiting for Zechariah, wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them, and they realised that he had seen a vision in the temple sanctuary; he was making signs to them and remained unable to communicate. 23 So when his time of service was completed, he returned home.
24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion; she said,
25 ‘The Lord has done this for me; He has shown favour to me right now, and taken away my disgrace among the people.’
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin pledged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary.
28 Gabriel came to her and said,
‘Greetings, highly favoured one! The Lord is with you.’
29 But she was deeply troubled by his words and questioned what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her,
‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31 For you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’
34 Mary said to the angel,
‘How can this be, since I have not had sex with a man?’
35 The angel said to her,
‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; for this reason the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 Look now, your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.’
38 Mary replied,
‘Here am I, the Lord’s servant, let it happen according to your word.’
Then the angel left her.
39 At this time, Mary set out and travelled with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 and arrived at the house of Zachariah where she greeted Elizabeth.
41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped within her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and cried out with a loud voice,
‘You are the most blessed of women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 Why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 For as soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped with joy! 45 Blessed is she who believes that what has been told her by the Lord will come true!’
46 And Mary said,
‘My soul gives the Lord yet higher praise,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 For He has respected the low standing
of His servant,
So from now on,
all generations will call me blessed!
49 The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is His name;
50 His mercy is for those who fear Him
from generation to generation.
51 He has done great deeds by His might;
He has scattered the arrogant
in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has pulled the powerful down
from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 He has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has given help to His servant Israel,
Having kept His mercy in mind:
55 As He promised to our forefathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants,
56 Then Mary remained with Elizabeth for about three months, and returned to her home.
57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they shared her joy. 59 When they came to circumcise the child on the eighth day, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father. 60 But his mother spoke up,
‘No; he is to be called John.’
61 So they said to her,
‘None of your relatives has this name.’
62 So they began to make signs to his father to find out what name he should be given. 63 He asked for a writing tablet and to the amazement of everyone, he wrote,
‘His name is John.’
64 His mouth was opened straight away, his tongue was set free and he began to speak and praise God. 65 All their neighbours were filled with awe, and all of this was talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard these things took them to heart and wondered,
‘What will become of this child?’
For it was certain that the hand of the Lord was with him.
67 Then his father Zachariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
68 ’Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
for He has shown care for His people
and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up power for our salvation
in the house of His servant David,
70 as he spoke through the words
of his Holy prophets from of old;
71 salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us.
72 He has shown the mercy He promised
to our ancestors,
and remembered His holy covenant,
73 the oath that He swore
to our ancestor Abraham,
to give us hope 74 that being rescued
from the hands of our enemies,
we might serve Him without fear
75 in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called
the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord
to make His paths ready,
77 to give His people knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because in the tender mercy of our God,
the daybreak from on high
will come on us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness
and in death’s shadow,
and to guide our feet in the way of peace.’
80 The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
1 So it was that in those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the whole world. 2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria, 3 and all went to their home towns for the census.
4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he belonged to the house and family line of David. 5 He went to be enrolled with Mary, to whom he was pledged in marriage and who was expecting a baby. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to have the child, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloth bands, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 There were shepherds out in the fields of that neighbourhood, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 An angel of the Lord came and stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 But the angel said to them,
‘Do not be afraid; look, I bring you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 for today in the city of David, a Saviour has been born for you, and He is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in cloth bands and lying in a manger.’
13 Suddenly there was a great company of the heavenly host together with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth, peace amongst those He loves!’