Exposit The Word Ecclesiastes Biblical Teaching Expository Teaching Verse by Verse Greg Gilbert

Ecclesiastes Overview

The English title, Ecclesiastes, comes from the Greek and Latin translations of Solomon’s book. The LXX, the Greek translation of the OT, used the Greek term ekklēsiastēs for its title. It means “preacher,” derived from the word ekklēsia, translated “assembly” or “congregation” in the NT. Both the Greek and Latin versions derive their titles from the Hebrew title, Qoheleth, which means “one who calls or gathers” the people. It refers to the one who addresses the assembly; hence, the preacher (cf. 1:1, 2, 12; 7:27; 12:8–10). Along with Ruth, Song of Solomon, Esther, and Lamentations, Ecclesiastes stands with the OT books of the Megilloth, or “five scrolls.” Later rabbis read these books in the synagogue on 5 special occasions during the year—Ecclesiastes being read on Pentecost.

The book chronicles Solomon’s investigations and conclusions regarding man’s lifework, which combine all of his activity and its potential outcomes including limited satisfaction. The role of wisdom in experiencing success surfaces repeatedly, particularly when Solomon must acknowledge that God has not revealed all of the details. This leads Solomon to the conclusion that the primary issues of life after the Edenic fall involve divine blessings to be enjoyed and the divine judgment for which all must prepare.

Solomon’s reputation for possessing extraordinary wisdom fits the Ecclesiastes profile. David recognized his son’s wisdom (1 Kin. 2:6, 9) before God gave Solomon an additional measure. After he received a “wise and understanding heart” from the Lord (1 Kin. 3:7–12), Solomon gained renown for being exceedingly wise by rendering insightful decisions (1 Kin.3:16–28), a reputation that attracted “all the kings of the earth” to his courts (1 Kin. 4:34). In addition, he composed songs and proverbs (1 Kin. 4:32; cf. 12:9), activity befitting only the ablest of sages. Solomon’s wisdom, like Job’s wealth, surpassed the wisdom “of all the people of the east” (1 Kin. 4:30; Job 1:3).

The book is applicable to all who would listen and benefit, not so much from Solomon’s experiences, but from the principles he drew as a result. Its aim is to answer some of life’s most challenging questions, particularly where they seem contrary to Solomon’s expectations. This has led some unwisely to take the view that Ecclesiastes is a book of skepticism. But in spite of amazingly unwise behavior and thinking, Solomon never let go of his faith in God (12:13, 14).

Text used with permission from GTY.org

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”  2 Timothy 3:16

Meet your Teacher