A Long-Winded Sermon

Acts 20:1-12

Today, most of us consider a long sermon to be somewhere from 35 to 40 minutes, but the Apostle Paul gives comfort to any modern-day preacher who is hearing about long sermons from critics, for Paul in this passage went on past midnight, and then until dawn in Troas.

The first six verses of this passage give details about places visited and who was in Paul’s party, but beginning with verse seven we see the events surrounding this epic sermon. The most interesting thing here is that Luke never even tells us what Paul was talking about!

Paul went on so long that a young man named Eutychus, who was seated in the window, fell asleep and then fell three stories to his death sometime after midnight… and we complain after only a few minutes. Luke tells us that Paul ran outside and raised the young man back to life, and then returned to his sermon and went on several more hours. We know that Paul went a little long because he was leaving the next day, but my oh my I wonder if anyone was awake when he was finished.

I take three lessons from this text:

First, preachers should probably keep an eye on the clock.

Second, young men shouldn’t sit in third floor windows.

Third, the power of God can overcome any calamity.

Next time, Paul bids farewell to the elders of Ephesus, and Luke tells us what he told them; see you then!

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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11 Responses to A Long-Winded Sermon

  1. When you look at the passage carefully, it says many people came and brought their own torches. Also, this was a third-story apartment (they called them insulae). It got hot in there. Eutychus was probably trying to get some fresh air. I wonder how many in the crowd envied his position.

  2. Watch out for the first snore,it’s a doozie. 🙂

    Great news about the power of the Holy Spirit all the way around on this story.

    Be blessed. God is Great. Nothing is impossible with Him.

  3. My grandfather told me about church in the old country from when he was young. The priest would walk around the town around 8am ringing the bells and people would join the procession. Liturgy, alone, would last 3-4 hours, with the sermon typically adding another hour or more, you wouldn’t get out of church until around 3pm. When he complained to the priest he would be reminded that St. John Chrysostom’s sermons alone would last 3-4 hours. People would come in the morning, they would get a break for lunch (a common meal held at the place of liturgy) the come back for the rest of the service, breaking around 5 for dinner.

    Yes, we have little to complain about.

  4. In Puritan times, I’m told preachers would speak for an hour, then be thrown a half-time orange, and, being refreshed, go on for another hour. Another story relates have a Puritan minister at a wedding spoke for an hour. He paused and said that he probably should end his message. Someone called out, ‘For God’s sake man, continue!’ Anyway, on topic, it seems obvious that people were keen (or at least content) to stay and listen to what Paul was saying. There was no lock on the door. Paul wasn’t boring, it was more likely that ‘lucky’ was simply tired.

  5. Citizen Tom says:

    No TV, radio, or Internet back then. Listening to a learned man speak was no doubt considered a rare treat. Still, I have to laugh at the last five words in verse nine. My guess is that even our Lord had sympathy for that young man. It must have been a challenge for any listener to match Paul’s enthusiasm for preaching the Word.

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