Ecclesiastes (intro.)

Meaningless, meaningless! This is the oft quoted phrase from Ecclesiastes.  However, if everything is meaningless doesn’t that mean that the book itself is meaningless?  The philosopher who wrote Ecclesiastes was not a nihilist.  He actually had a perspective on life that is fairly positive.  Ecclesiastes is one of those books that many misunderstand.  Some think it contradicts much of the rest of scripture.  An example is when the author seems to imply that the soul of an animal and the soul of a human share the same fate in chapter 3.  The famous ‘Time to …’ passage in the same chapter is often used to say that each activity should be done at the right time – however, some of the acts in the list are immoral and so there can’t be a right time for them.

Read an introduction to Ecclesiastes in a Bible.

Questions

  1. Who wrote Ecclesiastes?
  2. Why was Ecclesiastes written?
  3. How have you understood Ecclesiastes in the past?
  4. Have you ever wondered how to live life on a day-to-day basis?
  5. How do you cope with that fact that you live a short time and nothing that you do will last?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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17 Responses to Ecclesiastes (intro.)

  1. Ashlyn Hays says:

    As I answered these questions and thought about the different themes in the book of Ecclesiastes as well as the reason for why this book was written (i.e. the concern to impart wisdom and knowledge to the people of God, teaching them to fear the Lord) I was encouraged by the idea of ‘the joy and the frustration of work’. God has designed us to work, yet the work he gives us to do may not always feel or seem satisfying. However, the work God has given us to do should be received with humility and fervor, not to work on behalf of self, but to work as unto the Lord. How incredible is it that because of the gift of work God has given to us, he also, through our work provides, teaches, and sanctifies his children. Praise God for the joys and frustrations of work for he has been Faithful to us as he completes the work he has begun in us through giving us work to do!

  2. Sandra Tindle says:

    1. The author of Ecclesiastes is unknown, but it could possibly be Solomon.
    2. Ecclesiastes was written to examine the human life and experiences, as the author has observed them, and to remind people to “remember your Creator” and “fear God and keep His commandments”.
    3. In the past, I have understood Ecclesiastes as making the point that earthly things are meaningless unless you are following God.
    4. I have not exactly wondered how to live life on a day-to-day basis, but have wondered how to live life better and more focused on God on a day-to-day basis.
    5. I accept that my life on earth is short, and that I was created and put here for God’s plan, and I am part of the bigger story of God’s plan. I also know that I will live for eternity in heaven, and therefore I have hope that I will not just cease to exist after my earthly doings are done.

  3. spiritandtruth1128 says:

    1. Possibly Solomon
    2. This book was written to find the purpose in life
    3. When I first read Ecclesiastes I was kind of frustrated because it seemed so negative and repetitive but then I realized that it just means that we cant find true happiness if we live God out of our daily lives.
    4. I don’t think I have, because I put so much importance on the future and how I can live today in a good way so that it will lead to a good tomorrow.
    5. Initially it sounds like a sad thought, and before I came to Moody I was terrified of death but I know I have an eternal home somewhere else, so the fact that my life is short and my life will fly by only makes me more excited for that day to come.

  4. Melisa Guiles says:

    1. It is uncertain who wrote Ecclesiastes, but most scholars think it was Solomon.
    2. Ecclesiastes was written to answer the question, “What is the meaning in life?” It tells of the author’s quest to answer this question and what conclusions he came to.
    3. When I read it in the past I understood parts of it, but not all of it. Certain parts seem easier to understand than others
    4. I have wondered how to live for God on a day-to-day basis and what that looks like acted out.
    5. Knowing that I only have a limited time here on earth, makes me want to live in such a way that everything I do glorifies my Creator. It also points ahead to the life everlasting and makes me excited for that day to come.

  5. Amy Kringle says:

    1. Solomon probably wrote the book.
    2. Ecclesiastes answers what the purpose of life is and explains the hopelessness when there is no purpose to life (a life without knowing God)
    3. I guess I haven’t really understood Ecclesiastes in the past. It seemed that it was just about the struggles of life.
    4. I hopefully know more than I used to in how to live for God in my daily life, but I know that I still have a long, long way to go and there are areas of my life that still need to be surrendered so that I can better live for him.
    5. Sometimes when I get caught up in activieties or goals, I think it bothers me that I may not finish these goals and that I am not certain about tomorrow. Often it is in “good” times that I do not even think about my life being temporary and it is in times of struggle that makes me rejoice that I am not going to be here forever. Although I should always being longing for heaven, having struggles is a good reminder that we are not everlasting but our God is, and that he has secured a place for us in heaven.

  6. Kristin Goffinet says:

    1) Although it’s not clearly stated, most people believe Solomon wrote it.
    2) This book was written to encourage people to be wise and life their lives obediently before the Lord, remebering that God is going to judge us all.
    3) Ecclesiastes was a confusing book for me and still can be a challenge for me to understand, but I ahve read it fairly recently, I am beginning to understand it better.
    4) Yes, I often wonder if I am really living out my faith according to the Bible.
    5) It’s a humbling thought, and it just makes me even more grateful that I am a child of the King and that I will get to spend eternity with him! I do believe that we can make lasting Kingdom effects on our culture and community through the Holy Spirit, however.

  7. HeeJin,Choi says:

    1.Who wrote Ecclesiastes?
    -It is commonly known as King Solomon.
    2.Why was Ecclesiastes written?
    -To teach that human wisdom has limits, and it cannot find out the larger purposes of God or the utimate meaning of man’s existence.
    3.How have you understood Ecclesiastes in the past?
    – As Solomon’s personal confession which gives a lesson on what the ultimate purpose of our lives.
    4.Have you ever wondered how to live life on a day-to-day basis?
    – Yes, but often it is forgotten after the day is done.
    5.How do you cope with that fact that you live a short time and nothing that you do will last?
    – If I am not a christian, I won’t feel like taking any reponsiblities about my life, that is, my life probably will be pursuing imperative pleasures aimlessly.On the other hand, since I am called as His child, I know that I belong to the kingdom of God above. Thus, I just do my best at the place where I am now without calculating until I stand in front of God’ throne.

  8. Sokloon Dy (Lizzy) says:

    1. I believe that Solomon wrote it.
    2. To answer, “What is the purpose and value of life.”
    3. In the past, I have understood Eccl to be a warning to those who seek satisfaction from temporal things in this life. If people seek satisfaction from things in life life, they will arrive at the end of their life unsatisfied.
    4. No, i haven’t not on a daily basis. This is because life can get busy at times.
    5. I will see Jesus face to face after this short life is done!

  9. [ED2203-01] HyeJin Lee says:

    Who wrote Ecclesiastes? – Solomon
    Why was Ecclesiastes written?
    – To emphasize how meaning less living without God is
    How have you understood Ecclesiastes in the past?
    – I thought this book was too skeptical.
    Have you ever wondered how to live life on a day-to-day basis?
    – no i don’t think I have.
    How do you cope with that fact that you live a short time and nothing that you do will last? This fact somewhat makes me sad. However, I will not be afraid of the fact because I know that nothing without God is valuable.

  10. Jessica Gentry says:

    1.) Most think Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes.
    2.) Ecclesiastes was written to show the futility of life without God as the primary and reason and purpose for everything.
    3.) I have always loved the book of Ecclesiasteds, but it certainly is one that is hard to understand at times, but I have thought of it as the outlook of one who seeking meaning from life apart from God, as reminder that without him everything we see and do will come to pass but with Him there can be purpose, and through Him there is meaning beyond the endless “circle of life”.
    4.) I have wondered how to live life on a day to day basis, and sometimes I get scared thinking a lot like Solomon, like what am I supposed to do? why does it even matter what I do? what is the point of it all? That is when I can find rest and assurance in the verse Micah 6:8 where it basically says that all God wants from us is to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.
    5.) When I think about the smallness of my life I can get insecure, but at the same time I cope with it knowing that I should be glad that this life is not about making much of me, or even my time here, it is about making much of God, and whatever tiny tiny way I can contribute to making much of Him, by being satisfied in Him, allows me to be able to find joy in my little life, serving a very Big God.

  11. Jessica Gentry says:

    1.) Most think Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes.
    2.) Ecclesiastes was written to show the futility of life without God as the primary reason and purpose for everything.
    3.) I have always loved the book of Ecclesiasteds, but it certainly is one that is hard to understand at times, but I have thought of it as the outlook of one who is seeking meaning from life apart from God, which is used as a reminder that without God everything we see and do will come to pass but with Him there can be purpose, and through Him there is meaning beyond the endless “circle of life”.
    4.) I have wondered how to live life on a day to day basis, and sometimes I get scared thinking a lot like Solomon, like what am I supposed to do? why does it even matter what I do? what is the point of it all? That is when I can find rest and assurance in the verse Micah 6:8 where it basically says that all God wants from us is to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.
    5.) When I think about the smallness of my life I can get insecure, but at the same time I cope with it knowing that I should be glad that this life is not about making much of me, or even my time here, it is about making much of God, in whatever tiny tiny way I can contribute to making much of Him, by being satisfied in Him. This allows me to be able to find joy in my little life, serving a very Big God.

  12. Kerri Klingsmith says:

    1. Who wrote Ecclesiastes?
    Commonly thought to be Solomon.
    2. Why was Ecclesiastes written?
    To get people to wonder what the meaning and purpose of life was.
    3. How have you understood Ecclesiastes in the past?
    That it is really just a reflection on the earth’s mortality and that everything is meaningless. Only in Heaven will we find the things that matter.
    4. Have you ever wondered how to live life on a day-to-day basis?
    Almost every day.
    5. How do you cope with that fact that you live a short time and nothing that you do will last?
    Live with an eternal perspective. Paul states in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 that we are to think on the things that are eternal because they do not pass away while the things of this world are transient and temporary.

  13. Moon [ED 2203;6:00pm class] says:

    1.Who wrote Ecclesiastes?
    most think Solomon wrote this

    2.Why was Ecclesiastes written?
    The author has examined history and nature and discovered only repeated cycles, with no progress toward any goal —Bible Reader’s Companion
    I think the author is recognizing that everything we value on the earth is vanity without the Creator,God. Our ultimate goal and value can not be found in the world.

    3.How have you understood Ecclesiastes in the past?
    life is in vain..there are no fun and goal in our lives.. which was totally a wrong concept !!

    4.Have you ever wondered how to live life on a day-to-day basis?
    yes, i have. I was thinking about martyrs’ lives one day, and i imagined, what if it had been me, what I would say before God. would I be saying thank you lord for taking me ? or would I be regretful about my past life? And i reached the thought that what i have been based on to live was in vain! because I had not been living with the ultimate hope and goal of my future! the life with knowing the ultimate value is not in vain ! After i realized that my life was not vanity anymore.

    5. How do you cope with that fact that you live a short time and nothing that you do will last?
    I believe even though we live a short time on the earth, as a Christian i strive to live for the glorious name of Jesus Christ, then i believe also what i do will never be nothing in present of God. That is the ultimate hope, goal and value of my life.

  14. rebecca Langer says:

    1.Solomon probably wrote Ecclesiastes.
    2.Ecclesiastes was most likely written to warn the young people about life. Solomon was giving his insights.
    3.I have understood Ecclesiastes as a man’s quest for meaning.
    4.I guess I always kinda wonder how I should live. Like what makes an ordinary day so important, or how important are the little things.
    5.I know that God uses my life for His purposes, and I strive to please Him. I know that the eternal things will last, so I go for those. I attempt to do something with my life that will not disintegrate when I perish.

  15. Grace Yoo says:

    1. Most people think that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes.

    2. I believe Ecclesiastes was written to help people know what the meaning and purpose of their lives should be. It is supposed to develop compassion for those who live without knowing God.

    3. In the past, I understood Ecclesiastes as very contradicting. I wondered why this book was in the Bible if it kept saying everything was meaningless.

    4. Yes, I have thought about how we should live on a daily basis.

    5. I cope well with the fact that we live a short time and nothing on earth lasts forever. It makes me live out my life with no regrets and it also helps me to look forward going to Heaven because there will be much more greater eternal treasures.

  16. Kayla says:

    1. Solomon

    2. Ecclesiastes was written primarily to spare future generations the bitterness of learning through their own experience that life is meaningless apart from God.

    3. I have never studied Ecclesiastes. I have read passages here and there, but I have never done an in depth study. Honestly, I have never given Ecclesiastes much thought. I have read Ecclesiastes 3 many times and understand there is a season for everything.

    4. Yes I have wondered how to live on a day to day basis. I understand that I need to be living a life reflecting the Lord and who He is. I understand that He is sanctifying me and I need to sacrifice the desires of the flesh and live daily by the Spirit. I know these truths, but what does that look like? What does it mean to live by the Spirit when I am studying in my dorm, or when I am walking to class, or while I’m hanging out with my sister. What can I do, as an active participant in the Body, on a daily basis to bring glory to God?

    5. Knowing that I live for only a short time and realizing nothing I do will last brings me comfort, as well as a sense of urgency. Knowing the earthly activities I involve myself in won’t last causes them to become a lot less significant. But knowing that I have a short time on earth causes my eternal perspective to increase and ignites my desire to participate in the work of the Lord.

  17. aaron wright says:

    1. i believe solomon did
    2. i think it was written from a very wise man to warn all believers of the meaningless of having even everything that you could want in the world since Solomon had it all. He experienced everything and still wasn’t happy. So, he wanted to share that with every believer who thinks that just one more thing will make him/her happy.
    3. i think i understood it for the most part as just a warning, but im sure theres much more to be learned.
    4. yep all the time. And im still trying to adjust.
    5. I have to realize that anything i do should be to honor God because the works that are done for God WILL last. I will gain treasures in Heaven.

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