Why Luke wrote this book
1Many people have tried to tell the story of what God has done among us. 2They wrote what we had been told by the ones who were there in the beginning and saw what happened. 3So I made a careful study#1.3 a careful study: Or “a study from the beginning”. of everything and then decided to write and tell you exactly what took place. Honourable Theophilus, 4I have done this to let you know the truth about what you have heard.
The births of John the Baptist and Jesus
An angel tells about the birth of John
5 # 1 Chron 24.10. When Herod was king of Judea, there was a priest called Zechariah from the priestly group of Abijah. His wife Elizabeth was from the family of Aaron.#1.5 Aaron: The brother of Moses and the first priest. 6Both of them were good people and pleased the Lord God by obeying all that he had commanded. 7But they did not have children. Elizabeth could not have any, and both Zechariah and Elizabeth were already old.
8One day Zechariah's group of priests were on duty, and he was serving God as a priest. 9According to the custom of the priests, he had been chosen to go into the Lord's temple that day and to burn incense,#1.9 burn incense: This was done twice a day, once in the morning and again in the late afternoon. 10while the people stood outside praying.
11All at once an angel from the Lord appeared to Zechariah at the right side of the altar. 12Zechariah was confused and afraid when he saw the angel. 13But the angel told him:
Don't be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayers. Your wife Elizabeth will have a son, and you must name him John. 14His birth will make you very happy, and many people will be glad. 15#Num 6.3.Your son will be a great servant of the Lord. He must never drink wine or beer, and the power of the Holy Spirit will be with him from the time he is born.
16John will lead many people in Israel to turn back to the Lord their God. 17#Mal 4.5,6.He will go ahead of the Lord with the same power and spirit that Elijah#1.17 Elijah: The prophet Elijah was known for his power to perform miracles. had. And because of John, parents will be more thoughtful of their children. And people who now disobey God will begin to think as they ought to. That is how John will get people ready for the Lord.
18Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know this is going to happen? My wife and I are both very old.”
19 # Dan 8.16; 9.21. The angel answered, “I am Gabriel, God's servant, and I was sent to tell you this good news. 20You have not believed what I have said. So you will not be able to say a thing until all this happens. But everything will take place when it is supposed to.”
21The crowd was waiting for Zechariah and kept wondering why he was staying so long in the temple. 22When he did come out, he could not speak, and they knew he had seen a vision. He motioned to them with his hands, but did not say a thing.
23When Zechariah's time of service in the temple was over, he went home. 24Soon after that, his wife was expecting a baby, and for five months she did not leave the house. She said to herself, 25“What the Lord has done for me will keep people from looking down on me.”#1.25 keep people from looking down on me: When a married woman could not have children, it was thought that the Lord was punishing her.
An angel tells about the birth of Jesus
26One month later God sent the angel Gabriel to the town of Nazareth in Galilee 27#Matt 1.18.with a message for a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to Joseph from the family of King David. 28The angel greeted Mary and said, “You are truly blessed! The Lord is with you.”
29Mary was confused by the angel's words and wondered what they meant. 30Then the angel told Mary, “Don't be afraid! God is pleased with you, 31#Matt 1.21.and you will have a son. His name will be Jesus. 32#2 Sam 7.12,13,16; Isa 9.7.He will be great and will be called the Son of God Most High. The Lord God will make him king, as his ancestor David was. 33He will rule the people of Israel for ever, and his kingdom will never end.”
34Mary asked the angel, “How can this happen? I am not married!”
35The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come down to you, and God's power will come over you. So your child will be called the holy Son of God. 36Your relative Elizabeth is also going to have a son, even though she is old. No one thought she could ever have a baby, but in three months she will have a son. 37#Gen 18.14.Nothing is impossible for God!”
38Mary said, “I am the Lord's servant! Let it happen as you have said.” And the angel left her.
Mary visits Elizabeth
39A short time later Mary hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea. 40She went into Zechariah's home, where she greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, her baby moved within her.
The Holy Spirit came upon Elizabeth. 42Then in a loud voice she said to Mary:
God has blessed you more than any other woman! He has also blessed the child you will have. 43Why should the mother of my Lord come to me? 44As soon as I heard your greeting, my baby became happy and moved within me. 45The Lord has blessed you because you believed that he will keep his promise.
Mary's song of praise
46 # 1 Sam 2.1–10. Mary said:
With all my heart
I praise the Lord,
47and I am glad
because of God my Saviour.
48 # 1 Sam 1.11. He cares for me,
his humble servant.
From now on,
all people will say
God has blessed me.
49God All-Powerful has done
great things for me,
and his name is holy.
50He always shows mercy
who worships him.
51The Lord has used
his powerful arm
to scatter those
who are proud.
52 # Job 5.11; 12.19. He drags strong rulers
from their thrones
and puts humble people
in places of power.
53God gives the hungry
good things to eat,
and sends the rich away
54He helps his servant Israel
and is always merciful
to his people.
55 # Gen 17.7. The Lord made this promise
to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his family
56Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months. Then she went back home.
The birth of John the Baptist
57When Elizabeth's son was born, 58her neighbours and relatives heard how kind the Lord had been to her, and they too were glad.
59 # Lev 12.3. Eight days later they did for the child what the Law of Moses commands.#1.59 what the Law of Moses commands: This refers to circumcision. It is the cutting off of skin from the private part of Jewish boys eight days after birth to show that they belong to the Lord. They were going to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John.”
61The people argued, “No one in your family has ever been named John.” 62So they motioned to Zechariah to find out what he wanted to name his son.
63Zechariah asked for a writing tablet. Then he wrote, “His name is John.” Everyone was amazed. 64Straight away Zechariah started speaking and praising God.
65All the neighbours were frightened because of what had happened, and everywhere in the hill country people kept talking about these things. 66Everyone who heard about this wondered what this child would grow up to be. They knew that the Lord was with him.
Zechariah praises the Lord
67The Holy Spirit came upon Zechariah, and he began to speak:
68Praise the Lord,
the God of Israel!
He has come
to save his people.
69Our God has given us
a mighty Saviour#1.69 a mighty Saviour: The Greek text has “a horn of salvation”. In the Scriptures animal horns are often a symbol of great strength.
from the family
of David his servant.
70Long ago the Lord promised
by the words
of his holy prophets
71to save us from our enemies
and from everyone
who hates us.
72God said he would be kind
to our people and keep
his sacred promise.
73He told our ancestor Abraham
74that he would rescue us
from our enemies.
Then we could serve him
75by being holy and good
as long as we live.
76 # Mal 3.1. You, my son, will be called
a prophet of God
in heaven above.
You will go ahead of the Lord
to get everything ready
77You will tell his people
that they can be saved
when their sins
78God's love and kindness
will shine upon us
like the sun that rises
in the sky.#1.78 like the sun that rises in the sky: Or “like the Messiah coming from heaven.”
79 # Isa 9.2. On us who live
in the dark shadow
this light will shine
to guide us
into a life of peace.
80As John grew up, God's Spirit gave him great power. John lived in the desert until the time he was sent to the people of Israel.