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Luke 1-2 Living Bible (TLB)

1-2 Dear friend who loves God:[a]

Several biographies of Christ have already been written using as their source material the reports circulating among us from the early disciples and other eyewitnesses. However, it occurred to me that it would be well to recheck all these accounts from first to last and after thorough investigation to pass this summary on to you,[b] to reassure you of the truth of all you were taught.

My story begins with a Jewish priest, Zacharias, who lived when Herod was king of Judea. Zacharias was a member of the Abijah division of the Temple service corps. (His wife, Elizabeth, was, like himself, a member of the priest tribe of the Jews, a descendant of Aaron.) Zacharias and Elizabeth were godly folk, careful to obey all of God’s laws in spirit as well as in letter. But they had no children, for Elizabeth was barren; and now they were both very old.

8-9 One day as Zacharias was going about his work in the Temple—for his division was on duty that week—the honor fell to him by lot[c] to enter the inner sanctuary and burn incense before the Lord. 10 Meanwhile, a great crowd stood outside in the Temple court, praying as they always did during that part of the service when the incense was being burned.

11-12 Zacharias was in the sanctuary when suddenly an angel appeared, standing to the right of the altar of incense! Zacharias was startled and terrified.

13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zacharias! For I have come to tell you that God has heard your prayer, and your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son! And you are to name him John. 14 You will both have great joy and gladness at his birth, and many will rejoice with you. 15 For he will be one of the Lord’s great men. He must never touch wine or hard liquor—and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from before his birth! 16 And he will persuade many a Jew to turn to the Lord his God. 17 He will be a man of rugged[d] spirit and power like Elijah, the prophet of old; and he will precede the coming of the Messiah, preparing the people for his arrival. He will soften adult hearts to become like little children’s, and will change disobedient minds to the wisdom of faith.”*

18 Zacharias said to the angel, “But this is impossible! I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”

19 Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to you with this good news! 20 And now, because you haven’t believed me, you are to be stricken silent, unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly come true at the proper time.”

21 Meanwhile the crowds outside were waiting for Zacharias to appear and wondered why he was taking so long. 22 When he finally came out, he couldn’t speak to them, and they realized from his gestures that he must have seen a vision in the Temple. 23 He stayed on at the Temple for the remaining days of his Temple duties and then returned home. 24 Soon afterwards Elizabeth his wife became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months.

25 “How kind the Lord is,” she exclaimed, “to take away my disgrace of having no children!”

26 The following month God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin, Mary, engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David.

28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Congratulations, favored lady! The Lord is with you!”[e]

29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.

30 “Don’t be frightened, Mary,” the angel told her, “for God has decided to wonderfully bless you! 31 Very soon now, you will become pregnant and have a baby boy, and you are to name him ‘Jesus.’ 32 He shall be very great and shall be called the Son of God. And the Lord God shall give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he shall reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom shall never end!”

34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can I have a baby? I am a virgin.”

35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of God shall overshadow you; so the baby born to you will be utterly holy—the Son of God. 36 Furthermore, six months ago your Aunt[f] Elizabeth—‘the barren one,’ they called her—became pregnant in her old age! 37 For every promise from God shall surely come true.”

38 Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to do whatever he wants. May everything you said come true.” And then the angel disappeared.

39-40 A few days later Mary hurried to the highlands of Judea to the town where Zacharias lived, to visit Elizabeth.

41 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.

42 She gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “You are favored by God above all other women, and your child is destined for God’s mightiest praise. 43 What an honor this is, that the mother of my Lord should visit me! 44 When you came in and greeted me, the instant I heard your voice, my baby moved in me for joy! 45 You believed that God would do what he said; that is why he has given you this wonderful blessing.”

46 Mary responded, “Oh, how I praise the Lord. 47 How I rejoice in God my Savior! 48 For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and now generation after generation forever shall call me blest of God. 49 For he, the mighty Holy One, has done great things to me. 50 His mercy goes on from generation to generation, to all who reverence him.

51 “How powerful is his mighty arm! How he scatters the proud and haughty ones! 52 He has torn princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly. 53 He has satisfied the hungry hearts and sent the rich away with empty hands. 54 And how he has helped his servant Israel! He has not forgotten his promise to be merciful. 55 For he promised our fathers—Abraham and his children—to be merciful to them forever.”

56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home.

57 By now Elizabeth’s waiting was over, for the time had come for the baby to be born—and it was a boy. 58 The word spread quickly to her neighbors and relatives of how kind the Lord had been to her, and everyone rejoiced.

59 When the baby was eight days old, all the relatives and friends came for the circumcision ceremony. They all assumed the baby’s name would be Zacharias, after his father.

60 But Elizabeth said, “No! He must be named John!”

61 “What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.” 62 So they asked the baby’s father, talking to him by gestures.[g]

63 He motioned for a piece of paper and to everyone’s surprise wrote, “His name is John!” 64 Instantly Zacharias could speak again, and he began praising God.

65 Wonder fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread through the Judean hills. 66 And everyone who heard about it thought long thoughts and asked, “I wonder what this child will turn out to be? For the hand of the Lord is surely upon him in some special way.”

67 Then his father, Zacharias, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:

68 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has come to visit his people and has redeemed them. 69 He is sending us a Mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, 70 just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago— 71 someone to save us from our enemies, from all who hate us.

72-73 “He has been merciful to our ancestors, yes, to Abraham himself, by remembering his sacred promise to him, 74 and by granting us the privilege of serving God fearlessly, freed from our enemies, 75 and by making us holy and acceptable, ready to stand in his presence forever.

76 “And you, my little son, shall be called the prophet of the glorious God, for you will prepare the way for the Messiah. 77 You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. 78 All this will be because the mercy of our God is very tender, and heaven’s dawn is about to break upon us, 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow, and to guide us to the path of peace.”

80 The little boy greatly loved God[h] and when he grew up he lived out in the lonely wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel.

About this time Caesar Augustus, the Roman emperor, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the nation. (This census was taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.)

Everyone was required to return to his ancestral home for this registration. And because Joseph was a member of the royal line, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, King David’s ancient home—journeying there from the Galilean village of Nazareth. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was obviously pregnant by this time.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born; and she gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in a blanket[i] and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.

That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel appeared among them, and the landscape shone bright with the glory of the Lord. They were badly frightened, 10 but the angel reassured them.

“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem![j] 12 How will you recognize him? You will find a baby wrapped in a blanket,[k] lying in a manger!”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God:

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,” they sang,[l] “and peace on earth for all those pleasing him.”

15 When this great army of angels had returned again to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Come on! Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 They ran to the village and found their way to Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 The shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story expressed astonishment, 19 but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and often thought about them.

20 Then the shepherds went back again to their fields and flocks, praising God for the visit of the angels, and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had told them.

21 Eight days later, at the baby’s circumcision ceremony, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was even conceived.

22 When the time came for Mary’s purification offering at the Temple, as required by the laws of Moses after the birth of a child, his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord; 23 for in these laws God had said, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he shall be dedicated to the Lord.”

24 At that time Jesus’ parents also offered their sacrifice for purification—“either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons” was the legal requirement. 25 That day a man named Simeon, a Jerusalem resident, was in the Temple. He was a good man, very devout, filled with the Holy Spirit and constantly expecting the Messiah[m] to come soon. 26 For the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen him—God’s anointed King. 27 The Holy Spirit had impelled him to go to the Temple that day; and so, when Mary and Joseph arrived to present the baby Jesus to the Lord in obedience to the law, 28 Simeon was there and took the child in his arms, praising God.

29-31 “Lord,” he said, “now I can die content! For I have seen him as you promised me I would. I have seen the Savior you have given to the world. 32 He is the Light that will shine upon the nations, and he will be the glory of your people Israel!”

33 Joseph and Mary just stood there, marveling at what was being said about Jesus.

34-35 Simeon blessed them but then said to Mary, “A sword shall pierce your soul, for this child shall be rejected by many in Israel, and this to their undoing. But he will be the greatest joy of many others. And the deepest thoughts of many hearts shall be revealed.”

36-37 Anna, a prophetess, was also there in the Temple that day. She was the daughter of Phanuel, of the Jewish tribe of Asher, and was very old, for she had been a widow for eighty-four years following seven years of marriage. She never left the Temple but stayed there night and day, worshiping God by praying and often fasting.

38 She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she also began thanking God and telling everyone in Jerusalem who had been awaiting the coming of the Savior[n] that the Messiah had finally arrived.

39 When Jesus’ parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the Law of God, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. 40 There the child became a strong, robust lad, and was known for wisdom beyond his years; and God poured out his blessings on him.

41-42 When Jesus was twelve years old, he accompanied his parents to Jerusalem for the annual Passover Festival, which they attended each year. 43 After the celebration was over they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him the first day, 44 for they assumed he was with friends among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started to look for him among their relatives and friends; 45 and when they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there.

46-47 Three days later they finally discovered him. He was in the Temple, sitting among the teachers of Law, discussing deep questions with them and amazing everyone with his understanding and answers.

48 His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son!” his mother said to him. “Why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”

49 “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you realize that I would be here at the Temple, in my Father’s House?” 50 But they didn’t understand what he meant.

51 Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them; and his mother stored away all these things in her heart. 52 So Jesus grew both tall and wise, and was loved by God and man.


  1. Luke 1:1 Dear friend who loves God. From v. 3. Literally, “Most excellent Theophilus.” The name means “one who loves God.”
  2. Luke 1:3 to pass this summary on to you, literally, “an account of the things accomplished among us.”
  3. Luke 1:8 by lot. Probably by throwing dice or something similar—“drawing straws” would be a modern equivalent.
  4. Luke 1:17 rugged, implied. and will change disobedient minds to the wisdom of faith, literally, “to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just.”
  5. Luke 1:28 The Lord is with you. Some ancient versions add, “Blessed are you among women,” as in v. 42, which appears in all manuscripts.
  6. Luke 1:36 Aunt, literally, “relative.”
  7. Luke 1:62 talking to him by gestures. Zacharias was apparently stone deaf as well as speechless, and had not heard what his wife had said.
  8. Luke 1:80 greatly loved God, “became strong in spirit.”
  9. Luke 2:7 a blanket, literally, “swaddling clothes.”
  10. Luke 2:11 in Bethlehem, literally, “in the city of David.”
  11. Luke 2:12 a blanket, literally, “swaddling clothes.”
  12. Luke 2:14 sang, literally, “said.”
  13. Luke 2:25 the Messiah, literally, “the Consolation of Israel.”
  14. Luke 2:38 awaiting the coming of the Savior, literally, “looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”
Living Bible (TLB)

The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


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