Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us,
just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first1 were eyewitnesses2 and servants of the word.3
Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account4 for you, most excellent5 Theophilus,6
so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.7
In the time of Herod king of Judea8 there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah;9 his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.
Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly.10
But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.
Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God,11
he was chosen by lot,12 according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense.13
And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.14
Then an angel15 of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.16
When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.17
But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid,18 Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.19
He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth,20
for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink,21 and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit22 even from birth.23
Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God.
And he will go on before the Lord,24 in the spirit and power of Elijah,25 to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children26 and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."27
Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this?28 I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."29
The angel answered, "I am Gabriel.30 I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.
And now you will be silent and not able to speak31 until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."