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Introduction

Since [as is well known] many have undertaken to compile an orderly account of the things which have been fulfilled among us [by God], exactly as they were handed down to us by those [with personal experience] who from the beginning [of Christ’s ministry] were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word [that is, of the teaching concerning salvation through faith in Christ], it seemed fitting for [a]me as well, [and so I have decided] after having carefully searched out and investigated all the events accurately, from the very beginning, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus;(A) so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been [b]taught [that is, the history and doctrine of the faith].

Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

In the days of Herod [the Great], king of Judea, there was a certain priest whose name was [c]Zacharias, of [d]the division of Abijah. His wife was [e]a descendant of Aaron [the first high priest of Israel], and her name was Elizabeth. They both were righteous (approved) in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they were childless, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both far advanced in years.

Now it happened while Zacharias was serving as priest before God in the appointed order of his priestly division, as was the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter [the sanctuary of] the temple of the Lord and [f]burn incense [on the altar of incense].(B) 10 And all the congregation was praying outside [in the court of the temple] at the hour of the incense offering. 11 And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 When Zacharias saw the angel, he was troubled and overcome with fear. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, because your petition [in prayer] was heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him [g]John. 14 You will have great joy and delight, and many will rejoice over his birth, 15 for he will be great and distinguished in the sight of the Lord; and will never drink wine or liquor, and he will be filled with and empowered to act by the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb.(C) 16 He will turn many of the sons of Israel back [from sin] to [love and serve] the Lord their God. 17 It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous [which is to seek and submit to the will of God]—in order to make ready a people [perfectly] prepared [spiritually and morally] for the Lord.”(D)

18 And Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I be certain of this? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in age.” 19 The angel replied and said to him, “I am Gabriel; I stand and minister in the [very] presence of God, and I have been sent [by Him] to speak to you and to bring you this good news.(E) 20 [h]Listen carefully, you will be continually silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe what I told you; but my words will be fulfilled at their proper time.”

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Footnotes

  1. Luke 1:3 Luke may have been a Gentile. If so, he is the only Gentile author whose work is included in the NT. In addition to The Gospel of Luke, he wrote The Acts of the Apostles, and is thought by some scholars to have been the author of The Letter to the Hebrews.
  2. Luke 1:4 Or orally instructed.
  3. Luke 1:5 I.e. Zechariah. The spelling is different because a Greek word cannot end with an “h,” and in place of “ah” the common Greek ending “-as” was substituted.
  4. Luke 1:5 King David organized the priests into 24 groups or divisions, each headed by a president. A division served twice a year for a week at a time (1 Chr 24:1-19).
  5. Luke 1:5 Lit from the daughters of.
  6. Luke 1:9 I.e. normally a once-in-a-lifetime privilege for a priest.
  7. Luke 1:13 John the Baptist is considered the last of the Old Testament prophets. His mother, Elizabeth, and Mary the mother of Jesus, were related (1:36), and Mary may have been with Elizabeth at the time John was born (1:56). John the Baptist is not to be confused with John the Apostle who, along with his brother James, was among the twelve disciples of Jesus. John and James were the sons of Zebedee and Salome. John the Apostle authored the Gospel of John, three brief letters (1 John, 2 John, 3 John), and Revelation.
  8. Luke 1:20 Lit behold.

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