Eutychus -- a Three-Fold Warning
Acts 20:6-12
And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came to them to Troas in five days…

I. TO PREACHERS. Half the blame for the sleep and fall of Eutychus has attached to Paul, because he preached long. And the man who, by making too great a demand on the physical endurance of his congregation, preaches them to sleep, is a great sinner. For he defeats the very ends of his ministry. But it is much to be doubted whether this is very frequently the ease. For the longest services rarely exceed two hours, and consist for the most part of worship; and to say that three quarters of an hour of Christian teaching is too great a strain on constitutions which can endure a two hours' political speech or a three hours' dramatic entertainment, is manifest absurdity and hypocrisy. The real ground of complaint is not the quantity, but the quality of the discourse. The real tax is not on the strength, but on the patience of the audience. People tire of one man in ten minutes; another they could "listen to forever." The most popular preachers have not been short preachers; witness Chrysostom, Henry Smith, Whitefield, James Parsons, Punshon, Liddon, Spurgeon, Knox-Little, etc. And considering who Paul was, and what his message was, it is scarcely supposable that Eutychus was wearied with either him or it. Let the preacher make his sermons interesting and his congregation will be oblivious to considerations of time. Yet it is to be added that a wise man will respect the domestic arrangements, and the after religious engagements of his people in the Sunday school and elsewhere.

II. TO HEARERS. The other half of the blame is attached to Eutychus. Yet the narrative contains no hint that Paul thought him blameworthy. However, there are sleepy hearers who are to blame.

1. Those who bring a body and mind already exhausted to the house of God. People who have been up half Saturday night, or who have spent the Saturday afternoon in laborious dissipation, are to blame if they succumb to the spirit of slumber.

2. Those who are indifferent to the main object which should bring them to the house of God; who have no sense of the awfulness of God's presence, and their need of instruction in His Word. Such would go to sleep over business, but for their sense of its overwhelming importance. Let them but take the same interest in higher concerns and they will be wide awake enough.

III. TO CHURCH MANAGERS. These are most to blame and yet get the least. Paul must have been an interesting preacher and it is quite possible that Eutychus may have had a deep interest in Paul. His somnolence was most probably due to the conditions of the atmosphere. The many, badly smelling lamps, and the vast congregation must have vitiated the air, and Eutychus, higher up than the rest, was in the worst position for keeping his eyes open. Instead of blaming the preacher or the hearer let church managers look after the ventilation. Any theatre would be doomed if as badly constructed or attended to as many of our churches. Let the most interesting play be performed in the atmosphere breathed by many of our congregations, and it would be repeated to an empty theatre. The preacher himself is often lifeless, not from any lack of natural or Divine enthusiasm, but from lack of oxygen. Let, then, our church managers exercise the same common sense as our theatre managers. A congregation starved with cold in the morning and suffocated with heat in the evening will be a diminishing one, even if Paul himself occupied the pulpit. A little less expenditure on the aesthetic and a little more on the sanitary would awaken many a drowsy congregation, and fill many a deserted sanctuary.

(J. W. Burn.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.

WEB: We sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and came to them at Troas in five days, where we stayed seven days.

A Very Long Sermon
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