1Â Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilledÂ among us,Â 2Â just as they were handed down to us by those who from the firstÂ were eyewitnessesÂ and servants of the word.Â 3Â With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly accountÂ for you, most excellentÂ Theophilus,Â 4Â so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold
5Â In the time of Herod king of JudeaÂ there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah;Â his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.Â 6Â Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lordâ€™s commands and decrees blamelessly.Â 7Â But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.
8Â Once when Zechariahâ€™s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God,Â 9Â he was chosen by lot,according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense.Â 10Â And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.
11Â Then an angelÂ of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.Â 12Â When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.Â 13Â But the angel said to him: â€œDo not be afraid,Â Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.Â 14Â He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth,Â 15Â for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink,Â and he will be filled with the Holy SpiritÂ even before he is born.Â 16Â He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.Â 17Â And he will go on before the Lord,Â in the spirit and power of Elijah,Â to turn the hearts of the parents to their childrenÂ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteousâ€”to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.â€
18Â Zechariah asked the angel, â€œHow can I be sure of this?Â I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.â€
19Â The angel said to him, â€œI am Gabriel.Â I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.Â 20Â And now you will be silent and not able to speakÂ until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.â€
21Â Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple.Â 22Â When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signsÂ to them but remained unable to speak.
23Â When his time of service was completed, he returned home.Â 24Â After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion.Â 25Â â€œThe Lord has done this for me,â€ she said. â€œIn these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgraceÂ among the people.â€