Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 1, 1955

Paul's Trial Sermon

Charles Hodge, Ennis, Texas

There are always some women (and men) who are more authoritative on preaching than God in heaven and the apostles on earth. A group of such members had journeyed up from Crete to hear Paul at Athens — to see whether they like him well enough to hold their summer meeting. The account of this sermon is recorded in Acts 17; this conversation was overheard on the boat carrying the Christian group back to Crete.

First Christian Lady: Oh! I never was so disappointed in my whole Christian life.

Her husband — Me, too!

Second Christian Lady: And I had heard such good reports on Paul. I guess his zeal has led him astray; Festus said he was mad.

Third Lady: Do you know how he attracted the crowd? One Athenian told me Paul went in to dispute and debate. Some called him a Babbler and a troublemaker — he stirred up the whole town.

Her husband: Woe is me; woe is me!

First Lady: Now we will never have a church in Athens; they never will forget his "fighting tactics." I never would have believed Paul was a fighter; how I was fooled!

Second Lady: I never was so miserable in all my life during his sermon; I knew all those Athenians were watching us. They will think all members of the church of Christ are narrow-minded like Paul. I apologized to some of their leaders after the sermon.

Third Lady: My blood pressure nearly exploded when Paul called them by name. He should have known better than that. I told him before the service to preach in generalities and principles — not in particulars and facts. This was such a wonderful opportunity; but Paul was too stubborn to listen to me, though.

Her Husband: How I wished he would have listened to you; I knew you had called him over to the hotel to advise him.

Second Lady: I am in shock. Did you hear Paul when he said "Unknown God." Then he said they were ignorant. Doesn't he know preaching like that only offends and brings about anger?

First Lady: Then he told them that their gods were false — that Jehovah alone was God. How I squirmed; I can just imagine what they thought.

Third Lady: He preached just to their error; why didn't he commend their zeal and pat them on the back? You have to save people by degrees. Did you hear them sneer? He drove them off; they never will come back again. One sermon like that can do so much harm!

Her husband: Amen, Amen!

First Lady: Doesn't Paul know you must use wisdom? People don't want the truth unless it's salted down!

Third Lady: But the climax of all was when he demanded repentance. Those Epicureans and Stoics are sincere; it's not for us to say they can't be saved.

Second Lady: Then he threatened them with the resurrection and judgment. I could just see their faces turning redder and redder.

Third Lady: I could have overlooked this if Paul were just starting out, but he has been preaching for years. It's sad also; I hear Timothy and Silas preach just like him — and Timothy used to be so sweet and kind.

Her husband: And he never cracked a smile; in fact he was all wrought up!

First Lady: If he keeps up like this Paul can't preach for a church in the brotherhood! He's too hard; he rides too many hobbies! He sticks too close to the letter of the law.

Second Lady: My husband is an elder! I'll see that Paul never preaches in Crete.

Third Lady: He would have split the church wide open. We still have some members unconverted on the Trinity and immortality. We have stopped the truth for the sake of peace!

First Lady: Oh! How lucky we found out!

Her husband: Amen, Amen!

Second Lady: How pleasant it will be to hear our preacher, brother Backslapper next Sunday. He is so lovable and kind in the pulpit; our next door neighbors have been attending services for years, and he has never offended them nor hurt their feelings.

Third Lady: Thank God for such preachers!

Her husband: Amen, Amen!