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 first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.
Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,
so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; 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.
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,
he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.
Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.
When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.
But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.
He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth,
for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.
Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God.
And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."
The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. 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 speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."
Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple.
When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.
When his time of service was completed, he returned home.
After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion.
"The Lord has done this for me," she said. "In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people."
In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,
to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary.
The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.
You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.
For nothing is impossible with God."
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.
At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea,
where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!
But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"
And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me-- holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers."
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.
On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah,
but his mother spoke up and said, "No! He is to be called John."
They said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who has that name."
Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child.
He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone's astonishment he wrote, "His name is John."
Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God.
The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things.
Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, "What then is this child going to be?" For the Lord's hand was with him.
His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
"Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David
(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us--
to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace."
And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,
and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.
When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord" ),
and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons."
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required,
Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."
The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him.
Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against,
so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."
There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,
and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.
Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth.
And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.
Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover.
When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom.
After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.
Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends.
When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.
When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you."
49"Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?"50
But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar--when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene--
during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert.
He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.
And all mankind will see God's salvation.' "
John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.
The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."
"What should we do then?" the crowd asked.
John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same."
Tax collectors also came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?"
"Don't collect any more than you are required to," he told them.
Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?" He replied, "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely--be content with your pay."
The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ.
John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.
But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother's wife, and all the other evil things he had done,
Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.
When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened
and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."
Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli,
the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melki, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph,
the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai,
the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda,
the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri,
the son of Melki, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er,
the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi,
the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim,
the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David,
the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon,
the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah,
the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor,
the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah,
the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech,
the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Kenan,
the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert,
where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread."
Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone.' "5
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.
And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.
So if you worship me, it will all be yours."
Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.' "9
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down from here.
For it is written: " 'He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully;
they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.' "
Jesus answered, "It says: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' "13
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.
He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.
The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,19to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."20
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him,
and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."22
All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. "Isn't this Joseph's son?" they asked.
Jesus said to them, "Surely you will quote this proverb to me: 'Physician, heal yourself ! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.' "24"I tell you the truth," he continued, "no prophet is accepted in his hometown.25I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land.26Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.27And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed--only Naaman the Syrian."28
All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.
They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff.
But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath began to teach the people.
They were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority.
In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice,
"Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!"
35"Be quiet!" Jesus said sternly. "Come out of him!" Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.
All the people were amazed and said to each other, "What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!"
And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.
Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon's mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her.
So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.
When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them.
Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Christ.
At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them.
But he said, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent."44
And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.