The Bible Book by Book
Name. The Hebrew word means preacher and refers to or signifies one who calls together and addresses assemblies.

The Personal or Human Element. Such expressions as "I perceived," "I said in my heart," "I saw," etc., indicate that it is not the will of God that is developed but a man is telling of his own ventures and utter failure.

The General View or Key-phrase is "under the sun," with the sad refrain, "vanity of vanities, all is vanity", and shows how a man under the best possible conditions sought for joy and peace, trying at its best every human resource. He had the best that could be gotten, from human wisdom, from wealth, from worldly pleasure, from worldly honor, only to find that all was "vanity and vexation of spirit." It is what a man, with the knowledge of a holy God, and that He will bring all into judgment, has learned of the emptiness of things "under the sun" and of the whole duty of man to "fear God and keep his commandments."

Purpose of the Book. The purpose, then, is not to express the doubts or skepticism of the writer, not to record the complaining of a bitter spirit. It is not the story of a pessimist or of an evil man turned moralist. But it is intended to show that, if one should realize all the aims, hopes and aspirations of life, they would not bring satisfaction to the heart. His experience is used to show the result of successful worldliness and self-gratification in contrast with the outcome of the higher wisdom of the Godly life. We are shown that man was not made for this world alone and not for selfish achievement or gratification, but to fulfill some great plan of God for him which he will accomplish through obedience and Divine service.

The Date and Authorship. The opening verse and certain other passages such as some of the conditions as well as the characters of the persons represented in the book give the impression that Solomon wrote it, but there are other evidences that point to some other author. Neither the author nor the date of writing has been definitely determined.


I. The Vanities of Life. Chs. 1-4. seen in both experience and observation.

1. The Vanity of what he has experienced, 1-2.

2. The Vanity of what he has observed, 3-4.

II. Practical Wisdom, Chs. 5-7.

1. Some prudential maxims, Chs. 5.

2. Some Vanities, Ch. 6.

3. The best way to get along in life, Ch. 7.

III. Rules for a Happy Life, Chs. 8-11.

IV. Conclusion of the Whole Matter, Ch. 13.

For Study and Discussion. (1) Make a list of all the different things enumerated as a failure or vanity. (2) Make a list of the different things coming to us as God's gift of providence. (3) Make a list of prudential maxims or rules which teach how to live rightly and to lift us above the tribulations and defeat of life. (4) Does the author think seeking pleasure is the real business of life? (5) Does he deny the value of altruistic service? (6) Does he believe in the future life and in future rewards?

For the Outline Study of the Bible by Books by J.B. TIDELL, A.M., D.D. Professor of Biblical Literature in Baylor University, Waco, Texas
Ecclesiastes 1. "Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher; "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."

1. the preacher shows that all human courses are vain
4. because the creatures are restless in their courses
9. they bring forth nothing new, and all old things are forgotten
12. and because he has found it so in the studies of wisdom

Ecclesiastes 2. "Come now, I will test you with mirth: therefore enjoy pleasure;"

1. the vanity of human courses is the work of pleasure
12. Though the wise be better than the fool, yet both have one event
18. The vanity of human labor, in leaving it they know not to whom
24. Nothing better than joy in our labor but that is God's gift

Ecclesiastes 3. For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven

1. by the necessary change of times, vanity is added to human travail
11. is an excellence in God's works
16. as for man, God shall judge his works hereafter, though here he be like a beast

Ecclesiastes 4. Then I returned and saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun

1. vanity is increased unto men by oppression
4. by envy
5. by idleness
7. by covetousness
9. by solitariness
13. by willfulness

Ecclesiastes 5. Guard your steps when you go to God's house

1. vanities in divine service
8. in murmuring against oppression
9. and in riches
18. Joy in riches is the gift of God.

Ecclesiastes 6. There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is heavy on men

1. the vanity of riches without use
3. though a man have many children and a long life
7. the vanity of sight and wandering desires
10. The conclusion of vanities

Ecclesiastes 7. A good name is better than fine perfume

1. remedies against vanity are, a good name
2. mortification
7. patience
11. wisdom
23. The difficulty of wisdom

Ecclesiastes 8. "Keep the king's command!" because of the oath to God.

1. true wisdom is modest
2. Kings are to be respected
6. Divine providence is to be observed
12. It is better with the godly in adversity, than with the wicked in prosperity
16. The work of God is unsearchable

Ecclesiastes 9. All things come alike to all.

1. like things happen to good and bad
4. there is a necessity of death unto men
7. Comfort is all their portion in this life
11. God's providence rules over all
13. wisdom is better than strength

Ecclesiastes 10. So does a little folly outweigh wisdom and honor.

1. observations of wisdom and folly
7. death in life
9. and the day of judgment in the days of youth, are to be thought on

Ecclesiastes 11. Cast your bread on the waters; for you shall find it after many days.

1. directions for charity
7. death in life and the day of judgment
9. in the days of youth

Ecclesiastes 12. Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth

1. the Creator is to be remembered in due time
8. The preacher's care to edify
13. the fear of God is the chief antidote for vanity
Top of Page
Top of Page