Book of Ecclesiastes

Introduction to the Book of Ecclesiastes

Book of Ecclesiastes
Illuminated Heading of the Book of Ecclesiastes (Circa 1900). Getty Images

The book of Ecclesiastes provides a stark example of how relevant the Old Testament can be in today's world. The title of the book comes from the Greek word for "preacher" or "teacher."

King Solomon goes through a list of things he tried in seeking fulfillment: career achievements, materialism, alcohol, pleasure, even wisdom. His conclusion? All of it is "meaningless." The King James Version of the Bible translates the word as "vanity," but the New International Version uses "meaningless," a concept most of us find easier to understand.

Solomon began as a man poised for greatness. Both his wisdom and wealth were legendary in the ancient world. As the son of David and Israel's third king, he brought peace to the land and launched a massive building program. He began to backslide, however, when he took hundreds of foreign wives and concubines. Solomon let their idolatry influence him as he slipped farther away from the True God.

With its dire warnings and record of futility, Ecclesiastes could be a depressing book, except for its exhortation that true happiness can be found only in God. Written ten centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ, the book of Ecclesiastes urges today's Christians to seek God first if they want to find purpose in their life.

Solomon is gone, and along with him his riches, palaces, gardens, and wives. His writing, in the pages of the Bible, lives on. The message for today's Christians is to build a saving relationship with Jesus Christ that guarantees eternal life.

Author of the Book of Ecclesiastes

Scholars debate whether Solomon wrote this book or whether it was a compilation of texts done centuries later. Clues within the book about the author lead most Bible experts to attribute it to Solomon.

Date Written

About 935 BC.

Written To

Ecclesiastes was written for ancient Israelites and all later Bible readers.

Landscape of the Book of Ecclesiastes

One of the Bible's Wisdom Books, Ecclesiastes is a series of reflections by the Teacher on his life, which was lived in the ancient united kingdom of Israel.

Themes in the Book of Ecclesiastes

The main theme of Ecclesiastes is humanity's fruitless search for contentment. Solomon's sub-themes are that contentment cannot be found in human endeavors or material things, while wisdom and knowledge leave too many unanswered questions. This leads to a sense of hollowness. Meaning in life can be found only in a right relationship with God.

Key Characters in Ecclesiastes

The book is narrated by the Teacher, to an implied pupil or son. God is also mentioned frequently.

Key Verses

Ecclesiastes 5:10
Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless. (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 12:8
"Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Everything is meaningless!" (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 12:13
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. (NIV)

Outline of the Book of Ecclesiastes

  • The Teacher relates his life experience from his search for meaning. (Ecclesiastes 1:1-2:26)
  • The Teacher reflects on what he has learned about achievement, wealth, power, and other earthly pursuits. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-5:20)
  • The Teacher gives practical advice on wisdom and obedience. (Ecclesiastes 6:1-8:17)
  • The Teacher tells what he has concluded about destiny and God. (Ecclesiastes 9:1-12:14)
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Your Citation
Zavada, Jack. "Book of Ecclesiastes." Learn Religions, Dec. 6, 2021, Zavada, Jack. (2021, December 6). Book of Ecclesiastes. Retrieved from Zavada, Jack. "Book of Ecclesiastes." Learn Religions. (accessed June 2, 2023).