1 Because many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, 2 Even as they delivered them to us, who, from the beginning, were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word, 3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you in order, most excellent Theophilus, 4 So that you may know the certainty of those things in which you have been instructed.
5 There was in the days of Herod the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zechariah, of the course of Abia. And his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. 7 And they had no child because Elizabeth was barren and they were both far advanced in years.
8 And it came to pass, that, while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, 9 According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the time of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And when Zechariah saw him, he was troubled and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, "Do not fear, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard. Your wife Elizabeth shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you shall have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice at his birth, 15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord. He shall drink neither wine nor strong drink, and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. 16 And many of the children of Israel he shall turn to the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to 'turn the hearts of the fathers to the children' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
18 And Zechariah said to the angel, "By what shall I know this? For I am an old man and my wife far advanced in years." 19 And the angel, answering, said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and am sent to speak to you and to show you these glad tidings. 20 And behold, you shall be mute and not able to speak until the day that these things are performed because you do not believe my words which shall be fulfilled in their season."
21 And the people waited for Zechariah and marveled that he tarried so long in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he could not speak to them. And they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned to them and remained speechless. 23 And it came to pass, that as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
24 And after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived and secluded herself five months, saying, 25 "Thus the Lord has dealt with me in the days in which he looked at me to take away my reproach among men."
26 And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And the angel came to her, and said, "Hail, you who are highly favored. The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women." 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said to her, "Do not fear, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you shall conceive in your womb and bring forth a son, and shall call his name JESUS. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David. 33 And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." 34 Then Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, seeing I do not know a man?" 35 And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore also, that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, your cousin Elizabeth, she has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible." 38 And Mary said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.
39 And Mary arose in those days and went into the hill-country with haste to a city of Judah, 40 And entered into the house of Zechariah and saluted Elizabeth. 41 And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she spoke with a loud voice, and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And how is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, as soon as the voice of your salutation sounded in my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there will be a performance of those things which were told to her from the Lord."
46 And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior,
48 For he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed.
49 For he who is mighty has done to me great things, and his name is holy.
50 'And his mercy is on those who fear him, from generation to generation.'
51 He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He has put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
53 'He has filled the hungry with good things,' and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has sustained his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
55 As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his seed forever."
56 And Mary stayed with her about three months and returned to her own house.
57 Now Elizabeth's full time came that she should deliver, and she brought forth a son. 58 And her neighbors and her cousins heard that the Lord had shown great mercy upon her, and they rejoiced with her.
59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they called him Zechariah, after the name of his father. 60 And his mother answered and said, "Not so, but he shall be called John." 61 And they said to her, "There is no one of your kindred who is called by this name." 62 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. 63 And he asked for a writing-tablet, and wrote, saying, "His name is John." And they all wondered. 64 And his mouth was opened immediately and his tongue loosed, and he spoke and praised God. 65 And fear came on all who dwelt around them, and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill-country of Judea. 66 And all those who had heard them, laid them up in their hearts, saying, "What manner of child this will be!" And the hand of the Lord was with him.
67 And his father Zechariah 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.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us, in the house of his servant David,
70 As he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, who have been since the world began,
71 That we should be 'saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us,'
72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant,
73 The oath which he swore to our father Abraham,
74 That he would grant to us, that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
76 And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Highest, for you shall 'go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways,'
77 To give knowledge of salvation to his people, by the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God, by which the day-spring from on high has visited us,
79 To 'give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shades of death,' to guide our feet into the way of peace."
80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit and was in the wilderness until the day of his showing to Israel.
[v.2] - "they" - From John Gill's Exposition: "By whom the evangelist means, as appears from the after description of them, the twelve apostles, and seventy disciples; who handed down to others the accounts of the birth, life, and death of Christ; and according to which the above Christians proposed to write."
[v.3] - "Theophilus" - This Theophilus is also mentioned in Acts 1:1.
[v.17] - "Elijah" - Malachi said that Elijah would come before the day of the Lord (see Malachi 4:5). Jesus told His disciples that John the Baptist was this coming of Elijah (see Matthew 11:11-14). Verse 76 of this chapter contains a quote from Malachi 3:1, which speaks of God's messenger preparing the way before Him. John the Baptist is that messenger.
[v.17] - Quoting Malachi 4:6.
[v.19] - "Gabriel" - Gabriel is the angel who also delivers the message to Mary that she will bear Jesus by means of the Holy Spirit (see verses 26-33 of this chapter). Gospel Link: Matthew 1:20-21 (there, the message is delivered to Joseph).
[v.26-27] - Gospel Link: Matthew 1:18-19.
[v.31] - Gospel Link: Matthew 1:21.
[v.32] - "his father David" - The genealogies found in Matthew, ch. 1 and Luke, ch. 3 show Jesus' lineage from David (see Matthew 1:6-16 and Luke 3:23-31).
[v.33] - "reign over the house of Jacob" - Reference, Genesis 49:10; Numbers 24:17, 19; 2nd Samuel 7:16.
[v.33] - "reign... forever" - Reference, Psalm 45:6, 89:35-37; Daniel 2:44, 7:13, 14, 27; Obadiah 1:21; Micah 4:7; Hebrews 1:8; Revelation 11:15.
[v.35] - "the Son of God" - Reference, Psalm 2:7; Matthew 14:33, 26:63-64, 27:54; Mark 1:1; Luke 1:32; John 1:34, 49, 20:31; Romans 1:4.
[v.37] - Reference, Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27.
[v.50] - Quoting Psalm 103:17.
[v.53] - Quoting Pslam 107:9 (LXX).
[v.69] - Reference, 1st Samuel 2:10; 2nd Samuel 22:3; Psalm 18:2, 132:17; Ezekiel 29:21.
[v.71] - Quoting Psalm 106:10.
[v.74] - Reference, Isaiah 35:9, 10, 45:17, 54:13, 14, 65:21-25; Ezekiel 34:25-28, 39:28, 29; Zephaniah 3:15-17; Zechariah 9:8-10; Romans 6:22, 8:15; 2nd Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 2:15, 9:14; Revelation 2:10.
[v.76] - Quoting Malachi 3:1.
[v.78] - "day-spring" - From Strong's Exhaustive Concordance: "a rising of light." Reference, Malachi 4:2; Revelation 22:16.
[v.79] - Quoting Isaiah 9:2.
[v.79] - "to guide our feet into the way of peace" - Reference, Isaiah 52:7; Acts 10:36; Ephesians 6:15.