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Zacharias, Father of John the Baptist

Zacharias was a priest in Herod’s day. His wife was Elisabeth. They were both very righteous, but Elisabeth was unable to have children. One day, as Zacharias worked in the temple, an angel appeared to him and told him that he and Elisabeth were going to have a baby and that they were to name him John. He said the baby would never drink alcohol and that it would be filled with the Holy Ghost, even before birth. John would bring many people to God, going in the spirit and power of Elias, turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just. He would prepare people for the ministry of Jesus Christ.

Zacharias asked how he could know for certain this was true, since Elisabeth was too old to have a child.

19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.

20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season (Luke 1).

When Zacharias came out of the temple, the people were puzzled as to why he had stayed so long. When they saw he was unable to speak, they realized he had seen a vision while inside. When he finished his time at the temple, he returned home. Elisabeth became pregnant. When she was in her sixth month, her cousin Mary had a visit from Gabriel, who told her that she was to be the mother of Jesus. He also told her that Elisabeth was expecting a child as well. Mary went to stay with Elisabeth for three months.

After Mary left, Elisabeth’s child was born. When the child was eight days old, family and friends arrived to circumcise him and named him after his father. However, Elisabeth stopped them, saying his name was John. Everyone protested that John was not a family name, but when she insisted, they asked Zacharias what he wanted the name to be. He wrote the name John and at that moment, his voice returned. He praised God and prophesied concerning his son.

*This article was adapted from the LDS Bible Dictionary, the King James translation of the Bible, and Every Person in the New Testament by Lynn F. Price (Horizon Publishers, [2002], 25-26).

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