DATE: ca. 935 BC
The Hebrew title is Qoheleth means “one who convenes and speaks at an assembly,” or “an ecclesiastic,” or “preacher.” The Greek equivalent, ecclesiastes, also means “preacher” and is derived from the word “assembly.”
Though not specified to be Solomon, many believe him to be the author because the author identifies himself as “the son of David, king in Jerusalem” (Ecc 1:1). References in the book to the author’s unrivaled wisdom (1:16), unequaled wealth (2:7), excessive pleasures (2:3), and extensive building activities (2:4-6) all point to the author being Solomon, since no other descendant of David measured up to such specifications. Additionally, Jewish tradition has explicitly stated that Solomon was the author.
The message of the book may be stated in the form of three propositions:
- when you look at life with its seemingly aimless cycles (1:4ff.) and inexplicable paradoxes (4:1; 7:15; 8:8), you might conclude that all is futile, since it is impossible to discern any purpose in the ordering of events;
- nevertheless, life is to be enjoyed to the fullest, realizing that it is the gift of God (3:12-13; 3:22; 5:18-19; 8:15; 9:7-9);
- the wise man will live his life in obedience to God, recognizing that God will eventually judge all men (3:16-17; 12:14).
Ecclesiastes is a book that asks all the questions that the rest of the Bible answers.
The great lesson of this book is that satisfaction is only found in God. The book clearly teaches that there is nothing new “under the sun” (worldly things) and all things “under the sun” will not satisfy. Our hope is above the sun. Jesus is our Hope! The preacher sums this up in his closing words…
Eccl 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.
Verses frequently quoted from the book include 1:2; 3:1; 4:12b; 11:1; 12:1, 13.
OUTLINE OF ECCLESIASTES
I. Prologue: The Author and Thesis, 1:1-3
II. The Thesis Demonstrated, 1:4-2:26
A. The Futility of the Cycles of Life, 1:4-11
B. The Futility of Human Wisdom, 1:12-18
C. The Futility of Pleasure and Wealth, 2:1-11
D. The Futility of Materialism, 2:12-23
E. Conclusion: Enjoy and Be Content with the Providences of God, 2:24-26
III. God’s Design for Life, 3:1-22
A. He Gives Life’s Order of Events, 3:1-11
B. He Gives the Good Gifts of Life, 3:12-13
C. He Gives the Perspective of Future Judgment,
D. Conclusion, 3:22
IV. The Futility of the Various Circumstances of Life, 4:1-5:20
A. Oppression, 4:1-3
B. Work, 4:4-12
C. Political Success, 4:13-16
D. False Worship, 5:1-7
E. Hoarded Riches, 5:8-17
F. Conclusion, 5:18-20
V. The Futility of Riches, 6:1-12
VI. Counsel for Living, 7:1-12:8
A. Counsel in View of Man’s Wickedness, 7:1-29
B. Counsel in View of God’s Inscrutable Providences, 8:1-9:18
C. Counsel in View of the Uncertainties of Life, 10:1-20
D. Counsel in View of the Aging Processes of Life, 11:1-12:8
VII. Conclusion, 12:9-14
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When the Battle is Lost but the Victory is Won — Saying Goodbye to a Friend
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