1Dear Theophilus, Many people have tried to give a history of the things that happened among us. 2They have written the same things that we learned from some other people—the people that saw those things from the beginning and served God by telling people his message. 3I myself studied everything carefully from the beginning, your Excellency. Then I thought I should write it for you. So I put it in order in a book. 4I write these things so that you can know that what you have been taught is true. 5During the time when Herod ruled Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah. Zechariah belonged to Abijah’s group. Zechariah’s wife came from the family of Aaron. Her name was Elizabeth. 6Zechariah and Elizabeth were truly good people before God. They did everything the Lord ˻(God)˼ commanded and told people to do. They were without fault. 7But Zechariah and Elizabeth had no children. Elizabeth could not have a baby; and both of them were very old. 8Zechariah was serving as a priest before God for his group. It was his group’s time to serve. 9The priests always chose one priest to offer the incense. Zechariah was chosen to do this. So Zechariah went into the temple of the Lord ˻(God)˼ to offer the incense. 10There were many, many people outside. They were praying at the time the incense was offered. 11Then, on the right side of the incense table, an angel of the Lord ˻(God)˼ came and stood before Zechariah. 12When he saw the angel, Zechariah was upset and very afraid. 13But the angel said to him, “Zechariah, don’t be afraid. Your prayer has been heard by God. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give birth to a baby boy. You must name him John. 14You will be very, very happy. Many people will be happy because of his birth. 15John will be a great man for the Lord ˻(God)˼. He will never drink wine or liquor. Even at the time when John is being born, he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. 16John will help many Jews return to the Lord their God. 17John himself will go first before the Lord. John will be powerful like Elijah. He will have the same spirit Elijah had. He will make peace between fathers and their children. Many people are not obeying God. John will bring those people back to the right way that people should think. He will make people ready for the ˻coming of˼ the Lord.” 18Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I know that what you say is true? I am an old man, and my wife is also old.” 19The angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I always stand ready before God. God sent me to talk to you and to tell you this good news. 20Now, listen! You will not be able to talk until the day when these things happen. You will lose your speech. Why? Because you did not believe what I told you. But these things will really happen.” 21Outside, the people were still waiting for Zechariah. They were surprised that he was staying so long in the temple. 22Then Zechariah came outside, but he could not speak to them. So the people knew that Zechariah had seen a vision inside the temple. Zechariah could not speak. He could only make signs to the people. 23When Zechariah’s time of service was finished, he went home. 24Later, Zechariah’s wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant. So she did not go out of her house for five months. Elizabeth said, 25”Look what the Lord ˻(God)˼ has done for me! He decided to help me ˻have a baby˼. Now people will stop thinking there is something wrong with me.” 26- 27During Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to a virgin girl that lived in Nazareth, a town in Galilee. The girl was engaged to marry a man named Joseph from the family of David. Her name was Mary. 28The angel came to her and said, “Greetings! The Lord ˻(God)˼ is with you. You are very special to him.” 29But Mary was very confused about what the angel said. Mary wondered, “What does this mean?” 30The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, because God is very pleased with you. 31Listen! You will become pregnant. You will give birth to a baby boy. And you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great ˻(important)˼. People will call him the Son of the Most High ˻(God)˼. The Lord God will make him king like his ancestor David. 33Jesus will rule over the people of Jacob forever. Jesus’ kingdom will never end.” 34Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen? I am still a virgin!” 35The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come to you and the power of the Most High ˻(God)˼ will cover you. The baby will be holy. He will be called the Son of God. 36Also, your relative Elizabeth is pregnant. She is very old, but she is going to have a son. Everyone thought she could not have a baby, but she has been pregnant now for six months! 37God can do anything!” 38Mary said, “I am the servant girl of the Lord ˻(God)˼. Let this thing you have said happen to me!” Then the angel went away. 39Mary got up and went quickly to a town in the hill country of Judea. 40She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the unborn baby inside Elizabeth jumped. Then Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42Elizabeth said with a loud voice, “God has blessed you ˻(Mary)˼ more than any other woman. And God has blessed the baby which you will give birth to. 43You are the mother of my Lord, and you have come to me! Why has something so good happened to me? 44When I heard your voice, the baby inside me jumped with joy. 45What a blessing is yours because you believed what the Lord ˻(God)˼ said to you! You believed this would happen.” 46Then Mary said, 47”I praise the Lord ˻(God)˼ with all my heart. I am very happy because God is my Savior. 48I am not important. But God has shown his care for me, his servant girl. From now until the end of time, people will remember how much God blessed me. 49Yes, the Powerful One ˻(God)˼ has done great things for me. His name is very holy. 50God always gives mercy to those people that worship him. 51God reached out his arm and showed his power: He scattered those people that are proud and think great things about themselves. 52God brought down rulers from their thrones, and he raised up the humble people. 53God filled the hungry people with good things, but he sent the rich people away with nothing. 54God has helped Israel—the people he chose to serve him. He did not forget his promise to give us his mercy. 55God has done what he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham, and to his children forever.” 56Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months. Then Mary went home. 57When it was time for Elizabeth to give birth, she had a boy. 58Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord ˻(God)˼ was very good to her. They were happy for her. 59When the baby was eight days old, they came to circumcise him. They wanted to name him Zechariah because this was his father’s name. 60But his mother said, “No! He will be named John.” 61The people said to Elizabeth, “But no one in your family has this name ˻(John)˼!” 62Then they made signs to his father, “What would you like to name him?” 63Zechariah asked for something to write on. Then Zechariah wrote, “His name is John.” All the people were surprised. 64Then Zechariah could talk again. He began to praise God. 65And all their neighbors became afraid. In all the hill country of Judea people continued talking about all these things. 66All the people that heard about these things wondered about them. They thought, “What will this child ˻(John)˼ be?” They said this because the Lord ˻(God)˼ was with this child. 67Then Zechariah, John’s father, was filled with the Holy Spirit. He told the people what would happen: 68”Praise to the Lord God of Israel ˻(the Jews)˼. God has come to help his people and has given them freedom. 69God has given us a powerful Savior from the family of God’s servant, David. 70God said that he would do this. He said it through his holy prophets that lived long ago. 71God will save us from our enemies and from the power of all those that hate us. 72God said he would give mercy to our fathers. And he remembered his holy promise. 73God made a promise to Abraham, our father. God promised to free us from the 74power of our enemies, so that we could serve him without fear. 75Now we can serve God in a holy and right way as long as we live. 76”Now you, little boy, will be called a prophet of the Most High ˻(God)˼. You will go first before the Lord to make the people ready for the Lord’s coming. 77You will make his people know that they will be saved. They will be saved by having their sins forgiven. 78”With the loving mercy of our God, a new Day from heaven will shine on us. 79God will help the people that live in darkness, in the fear of death. He will lead us in the way that goes toward peace.” 80And so the little boy ˻(John)˼ was growing up and becoming stronger in spirit. John lived in a place away from other people, until the time when he came out ˻to tell God’s message˼ to Israel ˻(the Jews)˼.