1Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. 2They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples.*1:2 Greek from those who from the beginning were servants of the word. 3Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write an accurate account for you, most honorable Theophilus, 4so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.
The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold
5When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. 6Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. 7They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.
8One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. 9As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. 10While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.
11While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. 13But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. 14You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth.*1:15 Or even from birth. 16And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children,*1:17 See Mal 4:5-6. and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”
18Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”
19Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! 20But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”
21Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out of the sanctuary, wondering why he was taking so long. 22When he finally did come out, he couldn’t speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures and his silence that he must have seen a vision in the sanctuary.
23When Zechariah’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home. 24Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. 25“How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings,*1:28a Or Rejoice. favored woman! The Lord is with you!*1:28b Some manuscripts add Blessed are you among women.”
29Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33And he will reign over Israel*1:33 Greek over the house of Jacob. forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
34Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? 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 baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. 37For the word of God will never fail.*1:37 Some manuscripts read For nothing is impossible with God.”
38Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town 40where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
42Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. 43Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? 44When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”
The Magnificat: Mary’s Song of Praise
“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
47How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
48For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
49For the Mighty One is holy,
and he has done great things for me.
50He shows mercy from generation to generation
to all who fear him.
51His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
52He has brought down princes from their thrones
and exalted the humble.
53He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
54He has helped his servant Israel
and remembered to be merciful.
55For he made this promise to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children forever.”
56Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home.
The Birth of John the Baptist
57When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to a son. 58And when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her.
59When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!”
61“What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.” 62So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him. 63He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” 64Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God.
65Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills. 66Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, “What will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way.
67Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:
68“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has visited and redeemed his people.
69He has sent us a mighty Savior*1:69 Greek has raised up a horn of salvation for us.
from the royal line of his servant David,
70just as he promised
through his holy prophets long ago.
71Now we will be saved from our enemies
and from all who hate us.
72He has been merciful to our ancestors
by remembering his sacred covenant—
73the covenant he swore with an oath
to our ancestor Abraham.
74We have been rescued from our enemies
so we can serve God without fear,
75in holiness and righteousness
for as long as we live.
76“And you, my little son,
will be called the prophet of the Most High,
because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
77You will tell his people how to find salvation
through forgiveness of their sins.
78Because of God’s tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,*1:78 Or the Morning Light from Heaven is about to visit us.
79to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace.”
80John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel.
The Birth of Jesus
1At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2(This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. 4And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.
6And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
The Shepherds and Angels
8That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
14“Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
15When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
Jesus Is Presented in the Temple
21Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived.
22Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. 23The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.”*2:23 Exod 13:2. 24So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord—“either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”*2:24 Lev 12:8.
The Prophecy of Simeon
25At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him 26and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, 28Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,
29“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,
as you have promised.
30I have seen your salvation,
31which you have prepared for all people.
32He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
33Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. 35As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
The Prophecy of Anna
36Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. 37Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four.*2:37 Or She had been a widow for eighty-four years. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. 38She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.
39When Jesus’ parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the law of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. 40There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on him.