Paul addressed them in the Greek language, presenting for their
consideration such subjects as would lead them to a correct knowledge of
Him who should be the object of their adoration. [p. 56] He directed their
attention to the firmament of the heavens—the sun, moon, and
stars—the beautiful order of the recurring seasons, the mighty
mountains whose peaks were capped with snow, the lofty trees, and the
varied wonders of nature, which showed a skill and exactitude almost
beyond finite comprehension. Through these visible works of the Almighty,
the apostle led the minds of the heathen to the contemplation of the great
Mind of the universe.
He then told them of the Son of God, who came from Heaven to our world
because he loved the children of men. His life and ministry were presented
before them; his rejection by those whom he came to save; his trial and
crucifixion by wicked men; his resurrection from the dead to finish his
work on earth; and his ascension to Heaven to be man's Advocate in the
presence of the Maker of the world. With the Spirit and power of God,
Paul and Barnabas declared the gospel of Christ.
These introductory remarks prepare us for considering the miracle recorded in the
Acts. We must suppose that Paul gathered groups of the
Lystrians about him, and addressed them in places of public resort, as a
modern missionary might address the natives of a Hindoo village.5
[p. 169] But it
would not be necessary in his case, as in that of Schwartz or Martyn, to
have learnt the primitive language of those to whom he spoke. He
addressed them in Greek,
for Greek was well understood in this border
country of the Lystrians, though their own dialect was either a barbarous
corruption of that noble language, or the surviving remainder of some
older tongue. He used the language of general civilisation, as English
may be used now in a Welch country-town like Dolgelly or Carmarthen.
The subjects he brought before these illiterate idolaters of Lycaonia were
doubtless such as would lead them, by the most natural steps, to the
knowledge of the true God, and the belief in His Son's resurrection. He
told them, as he told the educated Athenians,1 of Him whose worship they
had ignorantly corrupted, whose unity, power, and goodness they might
have discerned through the operations of nature; whose displeasure
against sin had been revealed to them by the admonitions of their natural
5 See for instance Fox's Chapters on Missions, p. 153, &c.
1 It is very important to compare together the speeches at Lystra and Athens, and
both with the first chapter of the Romans. See pp. 171, 172.