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Ecclesiastes

Eccles, Ec, Qoh, Qoheleth




The Book of Ecclesiastes


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Below you will also find the summary of this book.



The Book of Ecclesiastes summary

Purpose of The Book of Ecclesiastes:
To teach that the life lived by purely earthly and human standards is futile, but the Godcentered life is the cure. Life not centered on God is meaningless and purposeless. Without God, nothing else can satisfy (Eccl 2:25). With God, all of life and God’s gifts are to be gratefully received and enjoyed to the fullest (Eccl 2:26 and 11:8). Ecclesiastes takes a solemn look at the unpredictability of the world and the frustration that it can cause in our lives. The author concludes that a life devoted to God is the only meaningful and enjoyable existence humanity can have.

Major Characters of The Book of Ecclesiastes:
Qohelet ("The Teacher" or "The Preacher") - the author of the book.

Summary of The Book of Ecclesiastes:
The outlook of "The Teacher" is critical and even somewhat cynical at times. His perspective and his advice do not seem to square with the more optimistic book of Proverbs, and his utterly pragmatic approach to life can seem to some readers as almost faithless. However, Ecclesiastes simply takes a very honest look at the way the world operates, observing that God's promises and God's wisdom do not always come to pass in the ways we expect. Just like the Teacher, we know that the wicked often prosper, the righteous often suffer, the wise man and the fool alike die.

We also agree that nothing - whether it be riches or power or fame or success or entertainment - nothing which the world offers can ultimately satisfy us. In light of all this evidence, it is a testimony to the Teacher's faith that he never once questions God's goodness, power, or wisdom. Rather, he wants to know what difference our decisions could possibly make in the seemingly chaotic universe. He attempts to answer the ultimate question - what is the meaning of life - and concludes that only a life with God has any value or purpose. For the Israelites living in a tempting, thriving, strange Persian culture, this book is a startling reminder that there is only one pursuit that is worthwhile.

Author and Dates of The Book of Ecclesiastes:
The early-daters place the book around 930 B.C. because they believe it to be written by Solomon. However, its language and topics make it more likely that it was written to Israelites living under the rule of Persia somewhere in the 400s or 300s B.C.

Outline of The Book of Ecclesiastes:

  1. The struggle to accumulate things for the achievement of happiness is meaningless (1:1-11).
  2. Authors autobiographical monologue: life is to be enjoyed as a gift from God (1:12- 12:7)… Themes are wisdom, pleasure, folly, enjoyment, time, justice, human effort, religious words, wealth, life-span, death, piety, women, kings, and memory.
    • Solomon’s Quest for Meaning in Life (1:12-2:26)
    • Further Quest for Meaning in Life (3:1-6:12)
    • Advice on Meaning in Life (7:1-11:10)
    • Advice on Death and Dying (12:1-12:7)
  3. Conclusion: Reverently trust and obey God (12:8-12:14).

Themes of The Book of Ecclesiastes:
Meaninglessness: Everything in the world, in and of itself, is worthless and empty.
Death is the one and only certainty in life. When done for oneself, work is toil that wastes life away. When done for God it can be a fulfilling act of worship. When sought after as a goal pleasure is elusive, and never satisfies. But enjoyment is a by-product of a life dedicated to God.
Regarding wisdom: even a prudent, examined life sometimes yields pain rather than pleasure, and poverty rather than riches. It is not a magical formula that brings happiness and fulfillment. True wisdom includes understanding that the curse of sin brings frustration to the whole creation (Romans 8:20).

The book of Ecclesiastes fits into the biblical story as a constant reminder of the brevity of human life in light of eternity.



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