Toughest Book to Preach On?

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Guido's Brother

Puritan Board Junior
I've just duked it out with the Preacher (Ecclesiastes) in preparation for a New Year's Eve sermon. The text is 11:1-6. I can't believe how hard Ecclesiastes is to prepare a sermon on. Definitely one of the most challenging texts that I've ever dealt with.

What do you think? What's the toughest book in Scripture to preach on?
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
There are easier texts to preach on from Ecclesiastes, though ;) But it certainly was the most challenging book to teach in Sunday School (which I've just finished doing last week). Some sections really do take a lot of digging, but the fruit of such labor sure is sweet.
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
So far (with respect to what I have preached on) I would have to say Amos. But if I had to choose a book that I thought/think would be the toughest I would say Ezekiel (especially the vision portions).

BTW, I am preaching on Ecclesiastes 1:2 on New Year's Eve (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 on New Year's Day). I found Michael Eaton's Introduction in the Tyndale Commentary Series to be very helpful.
 

Guido's Brother

Puritan Board Junior
So far (with respect to what I have preached on) I would have to say Amos.

I'm curious: what made Amos difficult to preach on?

I found the passage from Ecclesiastes difficult because of the mixture of truth and error in the book (sort of like Job's friends) and then discerning as to how this passage might testify to Christ.
 

ColdSilverMoon

Puritan Board Senior
Frank Barker, founding pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian (and senior pastor for more than 35 years), said once that he preached on every book at least once except the Song of Solomon. I suppose that gives us an idea of what he considered the toughest book...
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Having just finished a series on it, I would rank Daniel right up there -- specifically Daniel 9:20-27. I felt like a pretzel when I was done.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
I think it very much depends on your criteria. I rather enjoyed preaching through Ecclesiastes, but because I thought it would not easily admit of 20-30 sermons, I preached 13, one chapter a week except the first two.

I would think that Ezekiel (for length, apocalyptic literature, OT generally being more remote to the congregation than NT, etc) would be the most difficult in general.

But try and figure out how you would preach on Exodus 25-40 (and remember that there are several instances of two nearly identical chapters which are not next to each other). Sections of OT narrative can be very difficult - look at 1 Kings 4 and try and come up with a 3-4 point sermon with substance! There is also the matter of making difficult passages understandable. Perhaps the most I have struggled with a passage was Gal. 4:21-31. I also think that Leviticus or Numbers would be difficult to sustain one's pace through.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
There's an old pastor's joke to the effect that, if a pastor wants to get himself fired, he should preach earnestly through James! (Because of James's practicality, you see...)
 

LawrenceU

Puritan Board Doctor
The Song of Songs can be a bit rough as well. It is not difficult to exegete. It is difficult to preach if you do it faithfully. A lot of people will not like to hear that type of matter discussed in a church service.
 

JonathanHunt

Puritan Board Senior
The Song of Songs can be a bit rough as well. It is not difficult to exegete. It is difficult to preach if you do it faithfully. A lot of people will not like to hear that type of matter discussed in a church service.

What, the mutual love of Christ and His church?

he he he

*runs and hides*
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
So far, I have preached on Genesis, Ephesians, Daniel, half of Matthew, and a few of the smaller books like Philemon, and 2-3 John. Of these, Ephesians was by far the hardest. Paul not only has a tortuous mind (which Peter knew about! see 2 Peter 3), but the field of commentators is extremely crowded in Paul, and they are all long-winded. Not to mention the extreme difficulty of deciding what you are going to leave out. Nothing in the OT even compares, in my mind. Unless you are going to preach in Puritan style, staying in Romans for 20 years, Paul is definitely the hardest section of the canon to preach. If one has a biblical-theological approach, none of the OT poses such huge difficulties. I would much rather have to hunt to find something to say than to cut out huge swaths of teaching, because there is too much to say.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
If you can take it out of whole books, though, and reduce it to chapters, and leave the genealogies to one side, is there any chapter more daunting than Numbers 7? Obviously, it outlines itself: but how do you fill in the blanks?
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
So far (with respect to what I have preached on) I would have to say Amos.

I'm curious: what made Amos difficult to preach on?

Mostly due to the fact that the book is very dark. It isn't really unto the end that Amos' prophecy contains a ray of hope for the disconsolate. I seem to recall that some of the congregants thought the series was rather dark too.
 
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