Many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us,
just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us.
It also seemed good to me, since I have carefully investigated everything from the very first, to write to you in orderly sequence, most honorable Theophilus,
so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed.
In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest of Abijah's division named Zechariah. His wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
Both were righteous in God's sight, living without blame according to all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.
But they had no children because Elizabeth could not conceive, and both of them were well along in years.
When his division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God,
it happened that he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense.
At the hour of incense the whole assembly of the people was praying outside.
An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense.
When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and overcome with fear.
But 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 will name him John.
There will be joy and delight for you, and many will rejoice at his birth.
For he will be great in the sight of the Lord and will never drink wine or beer. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother's womb.
He will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God.
And he will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.
"How can I know this?" Zechariah asked the angel. "For I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years."
The angel answered him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and tell you this good news.
Now listen! You will become silent and unable to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time."
Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah, amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary.
When he did come out, he could not speak to them. Then they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept making signs to them and remained speechless.
When the days of his ministry were completed, he went back home.
After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived and kept herself in seclusion for five months. She said,
"The Lord has done this for me. He has looked with favor in these days to take away my disgrace among the people."
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary.
And [the angel] came to her and said, "Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you."
But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be.
Then the angel told her: Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name JESUS.
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 father David.
He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.
Mary asked the angel, "How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?"
The angel replied to her: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.
And consider your relative Elizabeth-- even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren.
For nothing will be impossible with God."
"I am the Lord's slave," said Mary. "May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel left her.
In those days Mary set out and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah
where she entered Zechariah's house and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped inside her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Then she exclaimed with a loud cry: You are the most blessed of women, and your child will be blessed!
How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me!
She who has believed is blessed because what was spoken to her by the Lord will be fulfilled!"
And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior,
because He has looked with favor on the humble condition of His slave. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed,
because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and His name is holy.
His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear Him.
He has done a mighty deed with His arm; He has scattered the proud because of the thoughts of their hearts;
He has toppled the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly.
He has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel, mindful of His mercy,
just as He spoke to our ancestors, to Abraham and his descendants forever.
And Mary stayed with her about three months; then she returned to her home.
Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she had a son.
Then her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her His great mercy, and they rejoiced with her.
When they came to circumcise the child on the eighth day, they were going to name him Zechariah, after his father.
But his mother responded, "No! He will be called John."
Then they said to her, "None of your relatives has that name."
So they motioned to his father to find out what he wanted him to be called.
He asked for a writing tablet and wrote: HIS NAME IS JOHN And they were all amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue [set free], and he began to speak, praising God.
Fear came on all those who lived around them, and all these things were being talked about throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard about [him] took [it] to heart, saying, "What then will this child become?" For, indeed, the Lord's hand was with him.
Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has visited and provided redemption for His people.
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David,
just as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets in ancient times;
salvation from our enemies and from the clutches of those who hate us.
He has dealt mercifully with our fathers and remembered His holy covenant--
the oath that He swore to our father Abraham. He has given us the privilege,
since we have been rescued from our enemies' clutches, to serve Him without fear
in holiness and righteousness in His presence all our days.
And child, you will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways,
to give His people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.
Because of our God's merciful compassion, the Dawn from on high will visit us
to shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
The child grew up and became spiritually strong, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered.
This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.
So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town.
And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David,
to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant.
While they were there, the time came for her to give birth.
Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough-- because there was no room for them at the inn.
In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock.
Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, "Don't be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people:
today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.
This will be the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a manger."
Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:
Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors!
When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us."
They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the feeding trough.
After seeing [them], they reported the message they were told about this child,
and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them.
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard, just as they had been told.
When the eight days were completed for His circumcision, He was named JESUS-- the name given by the angel before He was conceived.
And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were finished, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord
(just as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every firstborn male will be dedicated to the Lord)
and to offer a sacrifice (according to what is stated in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons).
There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel's consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord's Messiah.
Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple complex. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law,
Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said:
Now, Master, You can dismiss Your slave in peace, according to Your word.
For my eyes have seen Your salvation.
You have prepared [it] in the presence of all peoples--
a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to Your people Israel.
His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about Him.
Then Simeon blessed them and told His mother Mary: "Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed--
and a sword will pierce your own soul-- that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,
and was a widow for 84 years. She did not leave the temple complex, serving God night and day with fastings and prayers.
At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about Him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
When they had completed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.
The boy grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom, and God's grace was on Him.
Every year His parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival.
When He was 12 years old, they went up according to the custom of the festival.
After those days were over, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but His parents did not know it.
Assuming He was in the traveling party, they went a day's journey. Then they began looking for Him among their relatives and friends.
When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for Him.
After three days, they found Him in the temple complex sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
And all those who heard Him were astounded at His understanding and His answers.
When His parents saw Him, they were astonished, and His mother said to Him, "Son, why have You treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for You."
"Why were you searching for Me?" He asked them. "Didn't you know that I had to be in my Father's house?"
But they did not understand what He said to them.
Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother kept all these things in her heart.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,
during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, God's word came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.
He went into all the vicinity of the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,
as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the wilderness: "Prepare the way for the Lord; make His paths straight!
Every valley will be filled, and every mountain and hill will be made low; the crooked will become straight, the rough ways smooth,
and everyone will see the salvation of God."
He then said to the crowds who came out to be baptized by him, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance. And don't start saying to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones!
Even now the ax is ready to strike the root of the trees! Therefore every tree that doesn't produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."
"What then should we do?" the crowds were asking him.
He replied to them, "The one who has two shirts must share with someone who has none, and the one who has food must do the same."
Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they asked him, "Teacher, what should we do?"
He told them, "Don't collect any more than what you have been authorized."
Some soldiers also questioned him: "What should we do?" He said to them, "Don't take money from anyone by force or false accusation; be satisfied with your wages."
Now the people were waiting expectantly, and all of them were debating in their minds whether John might be the Messiah.
John answered them all, "I baptize you with water, but One is coming who is more powerful than I. I am not worthy to untie the strap of His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing shovel is in His hand to clear His threshing floor and gather the wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with a fire that never goes out."
Then, along with many other exhortations, he proclaimed good news to the people.
But Herod the tetrarch, being rebuked by him about Herodias, his brother's wife, and about all the evil things Herod had done,
added this to everything else-- he locked John up in prison.
When all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized. As He was praying, heaven opened,
and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in a physical appearance like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: You are My beloved Son. I take delight in You!
As He began [His ministry], Jesus was about 30 years old and was thought to be the son of Joseph, [son] of Heli,
[son] of Matthat, [son] of Levi, [son] of Melchi, [son] of Jannai, [son] of Joseph,
[son] of Mattathias, [son] of Amos, [son] of Nahum, [son] of Esli, [son] of Naggai,
[son] of Maath, [son] of Mattathias, [son] of Semein, [son] of Josech, [son] of Joda,
[son] of Joanan, [son] of Rhesa, [son] of Zerubbabel, [son] of Shealtiel, [son] of Neri,
[son] of Melchi, [son] of Addi, [son] of Cosam, [son] of Elmadam, [son] of Er,
[son] of Joshua, [son] of Eliezer, [son] of Jorim, [son] of Matthat, [son] of Levi,
[son] of Simeon, [son] of Judah, [son] of Joseph, [son] of Jonam, [son] of Eliakim,
[son] of Melea, [son] of Menna, [son] of Mattatha, [son] of Nathan, [son] of David,
[son] of Jesse, [son] of Obed, [son] of Boaz, [son] of Salmon, [son] of Nahshon,
[son] of Amminadab, [son] of Ram, [son] of Hezron, [son] of Perez, [son] of Judah,
[son] of Jacob, [son] of Isaac, [son] of Abraham, [son] of Terah, [son] of Nahor,
[son] of Serug, [son] of Reu, [son] of Peleg, [son] of Eber, [son] of Shelah,
[son] of Cainan, [son] of Arphaxad, [son] of Shem, [son] of Noah, [son] of Lamech,
[son] of Methuselah, [son] of Enoch, [son] of Jared, [son] of Mahalaleel, [son] of Cainan,
[son] of Enos, [son] of Seth, [son] of Adam, [son] of God.