Chapter 1

  1. As I am a messenger of Jesus Christ, and knowing that many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto you in order, most excellent Theophilus, that you might know the certainty of those things wherein you have been instructed.
  2. There was, in the days of Herod the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abijah, and his wife — being of the daughters of Aaron, and her name Elizabeth — were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless; and they had no child. Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well-stricken in years.
  3. And while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his priesthood, according to the law — his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord — the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the time of incense. And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw the angel, he was troubled and fear fell upon him; but the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. You shall have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice at his birth, for he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the holy ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elias, 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.
  4. And Zacharias said unto the angel, How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well-stricken in years. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God, and am sent to speak unto you, and to show you these glad tidings. And behold, you shall be dumb and not able to speak until the day that these things shall be performed, because you believed not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out he could not speak unto them. And they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned unto them and remained speechless; and as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. And after those days, his wife Elizabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, Thus has the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach from among men.
  5. And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her and said, Hail, virgin, who are highly favored of the Lord. The Lord is with you, for you are chosen and blessed among women. And when she saw the angel, she was troubled at his saying, and pondered in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you shall conceive, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
  6. Then said Mary unto the angel, How can this be? And the angel answered and said unto her, Of the holy ghost and the power of the Highest. Therefore also, that holy child that shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth, she has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month with her who is called barren; for with God, nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word. And the angel departed from her.
  7. And in those days, Mary went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah, and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the holy ghost, and she spoke out with a loud voice and said, Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is it that this blessing is upon me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, as soon as the voice of your salutation sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed are you who believed, for those things which were told you of the angel of the Lord shall be fulfilled.
  8. And Mary said, My soul does magnify the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, from henceforth, all generations shall call me blessed, for he who is mighty has done to me great things, and I will magnify his holy name for his mercy on those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their high seats, and exalted them of low degree. He has filled the hungry with good things, but the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel in remembrance of mercy, as he spoke to our fathers — to Abraham and to his seed for ever. And Mary abided with Elizabeth about three months and returned to her own house.
  9. And now Elizabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered, and she brought forth a son. And her neighbors and her kinsmen heard how the Lord had shown great mercy unto her, and they rejoiced with her. And it came to pass that on the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child, and they called him Zacharias after the name of his father. And his mother answered and said, Not so, but he shall be called John. And they said unto her, There is none of your kindred that is called by this name. And they made signs to his father and asked him how he would have him called. And he asked for a writing table and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they all marveled. And his mouth was opened immediately, and he spoke with his tongue and praised God, and fear came on all who dwelled round about them. And all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judea. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be? And the hand of the Lord was with it.
  10. And its father Zacharias was filled with the holy ghost and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets ever since the world began, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all those who hate us, to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant, the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our lives. 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, to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by baptism for the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God whereby the daybreak from on high has visited us, to give light to them who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
  11. And the child grew and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts until the day of his showing unto Israel.