The word "Ecclesiastes" comes from the Greek word ekklesia, which, in the New Testament, is translated "church" or "assembly." It carries the idea of a preacher, or debater, speaking to an assembly of people.
The author of this book was Solomon, who was known not only for his wisdom, but for his wealth and enjoyment of pleasure. No king in the Old Testament better fits the situation described in this book. Its theme, given in chapter 1:1-3, might be expressed, "Is life really worth living?" Solomon looks at life, with its seeming contradictions and mysteries, and he wonders if the endless toil of existence is worth it. A man toils all his life and dies, and someone less worthy than himself inherits all his wealth and wastes it. Solomon comes to the conclusion that the best thing is to enjoy the blessings of God today; fear God, and keep His Word. Of course, we know, with the added light of the New Testament, that our labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).
The key words and phrases in the Book of Ecclesiastes are: man (used 47 times); labor (used 36 times); under the sun (used 30 times); vanity (used 37 times); wisdom, or wise (used 52 times); and evil (used 22 times). We must keep in mind that Solomon is reasoning about what he sees and knows "under the sun." If we stop in the Book of Ecclesiastes, we will stay in the shadows. We must move on to the full revelation of the New Testament to have the whole counsel of God. Many of the false cults quote isolated verses from the Book of Ecclesiastes in an effort to prove their strange doctrines when, in fact, if they would accept the entire revelation of God's Word, they would not live in error.
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