The Book of Ecclesiastes

From Issue: Discovery 7/1/2017

Ecclesiastes means “preacher” in Greek (a form of ekklesia, meaning assembly). The Hebrew form of the word, Qoheleth, means “one who speaks at an assembly.” Solomon is the author (1:1). The book is clearly taken from experiences in his own life because he discusses wisdom (1:16), wealth (2:7-8), fame (2:9), and accomplishments (2:4-6).

Central Theme:

Solomon repeatedly uses proverbial expressions (“under the sun,” “vanity of vanities; all is vanity,” and “grasping after the wind”) to show that life is meaningless, confusing, frustrating, and depressing—if life is lived without God. Although life will still sometimes have unexplainable situations and puzzling events, life with God has meaning. When seen in light of God’s will, life can be successfully lived with satisfaction, contentment, and enjoyment (2:24; 3:13,22; 5:18-20). Living life in obedience to God is the only way to live and understand life (12:13). After all, everyone’s actions and behavior will one day be judged by God (12:14).

Outline of Ecclesiastes
1:1-3  Solomon’s thesis statement
1:4-18  The vanity of the world’s natural processes and pursuit of understanding
2  The vanity of indulgence, human achievement, and materialism
3  God’s organized way of life for human activity
4  The vanity of human cruelty, toil, politics
5  The vanity of careless worship and misused wealth
6  The vanity of riches
7:1-11:8  Wise insights in the midst of life’s vanity (mini-realities amid life’s conflicting differences)
11:9-12:7  Onset of old age when the health and strength of youth passes
12:8-14  Conclusion: life’s vanity can only be handled by devoting yourself to God


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