The Book of Ecclesiastes Explained

Go To Ecclesiastes Index

The Hebrew title assigned to the speaker in the book is Qohelet, “One Who Addresses an Assembly,” and thus “Preacher,” or better, “Teacher.” The Greek translation of the word is Ecclesiastes, from which the English title is derived.

Within the history of the church there have been two basic views on the theology of the book. On the one hand, some describe the contents of the book as pessimistic, cynical, skeptical, hedonistic, or agnostic, and picture the author as a man of doubt who has wandered far from God.

On the other hand, many interpret the book quite positively: the author is a man of faith, a realist, who sees that man simply cannot put the whole of life together. The latter view is favored since the author believes God is good (2:24; 3:13); believes God has a wise plan (3:11, 14; 7:14; 8:17); believes God is just (3:17; 8:11-13); and always exhorts men to fear God (8:12, 13; 12:13, 14).

Solomon is the one who is believed to have written this book. This could be because of the first scripture which is rather emphatic.

The author’s declaration that “all is vanity” envelops the primary message of the book, (1:2 and 12:8). The word translated “vanity” is used in a least three ways throughout the book. In each case, it looks at the nature of man’s activity “under the sun” as:

(1) Fleeting, this has in view the vapor like or transitory nature of life. James 4:14;

(2) Futile or meaningless, which focuses on the cursed condition of the universe and the debilitating effects it has on man’s earthly experience; or

(3) Incomprehensible or enigmatic, which gives consideration to life’s unanswerable questions. Solomon draws upon all 3 meanings in Ecclesiastes.

While the context in each case will determine which meaning Solomon is focusing upon, the most recurring meaning of vanity is “incomprehensible or unknowable, referring to the mysteries of God’s purposes.

The thought of the book centers in six key ideas. Three of these are negative and revolve around the problems of life:

(1)   All is vanity.

(2)   Man is limited.

(3)   God is hidden.

The other three are positive and give the solution to life’s crises:

(4)   Fear God and keep His commandments.

(5) Enjoy life.

(6) Use wisdom properly.

All six ideas are scattered throughout the book, but taken together they demonstrate that the purpose of the book is to show men that they should lead godly and joyous lives, though they live in a world of divinely condoned mysteries.

Solomon’s conclusion to “fear God and keep His commandments” (12:13-14) is more than the book’s summary; it is the only hope of the good life and the only reasonable response of faith and obedience to sovereign God.

He precisely works out all activities under the sun, each in its time according to His perfect plan, but also discloses only as much as His perfect wisdom dictates and holds all men accountable. Those who refuse to take God and His Word seriously are doomed to lives of the severest vanity.

Each of the chapters are done individually. Some due to length, have been shorten into "continued" sections. Each section contains a questionnaire which follows the section which has been done to aid in the learning process. Each section can be accessed by the simple menu found at the bottom of the file. (i.e., continue to next section or return to previous section.

Index  - The Book of Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes Chapter 1

Ecclesiastes Chapter 4

Ecclesiastes Chapter 7 Continued Ecclesiastes Chapter 11

Ecclesiastes Chapter 2

Ecclesiastes Chapter 5

Ecclesiastes Chapter 8

Ecclesiastes Chapter 12

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3

Ecclesiastes Chapter 6

Ecclesiastes Chapter 9

 

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 Continued Ecclesiastes Chapter 7

Ecclesiastes Chapter 10

 

 

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