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Bible Commentaries
Ecclesiastes 1

Gann's Commentary on the BibleGann on the Bible

Verse 1

Book Commentspar

Walking Thru The Bible


I. Author. Ecclesiastes 1:1 Solomon appears to be the author of the book. He was the most famous and powerful man in the world in his day. His wisdom and literary attainments were unequaled by any other.

II. Key Word. "Vanity" occurs some 37 times, and the phrase "under the sun" some 28 times and refers to worldly life and wisdom.

III. Theme. The theme of Ecclesiastes is that all earthly life is vanity (empty, futile). The experiences of Solomon prove this. This book is a dramatic autobiography of his experiences and reflections as he searched for satisfaction in life.

Solomon could not find happiness and meaning in a worldly sensuous life. Solomon saw earthly life at its best, yet his soul was never satisfied. Solomon tried to find satisfaction in the wisdom of science (Ecclesiastes 1:4-11) and turning to a materialistic philosophy (Ecclesiastes 1:12-18) but it was all empty. He turned to the pleasures of building (Ecclesiastes 2:4), gardening (Ecclesiastes 2:5), cattle breeding (Ecclesiastes 2:7), art collecting and music (Ecclesiastes 2:8). He sought satisfaction in fatalism (Ecclesiastes 3:1-15) and in the stoic’s philosophy (ch 4), ritualism and ceremony (ch 5) but these were all in vain. He tired wealth (ch 6), and the enjoyment of a reputation (ch 7) but he found all these vain and futile.

There is no hope found in anything this world offers. It is only in the hope of immortality which God gives us that we have real hope (ASV Ecclesiastes 3:11 the word "eternity" is considered a better translation than the term "world.") Solomon’s soul was never satisfied though he had everything this world could offer one. Full satisfaction can only be found in what God has for man. We are blessed because Christ has brought life and immortality to light (2 Timothy 1:10).

Careful Study Someone selecting a few verses from this book without understanding the whole could be left with a wrong impression. One must read the whole book and get Solomon’s grand conclusion in the last chapter to understand the message of Ecclesiastes.

Solomon’s conclusion is that life without God is full of weariness and disappointment. The turning point in the book is Ecclesiastes 8:12 "Yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God." The full meaning of the book is found in the last chapter-- "Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man." (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

SERMON OUTLINE - See Ecclesiastes 5:9 "Two Are Better Than One"

Two Are Better Than One

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

9 Two are better than one;

because they have a good reward for their labour.

10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his companion:

but woe to him who is alone when he falls;

for he has no one to help him up.

11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm:

but how can one be warm alone?

12 Though one may be overpowered by another,

two can withstand him;

and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; The New King James Bible)


1. Following a period of dissatisfaction with marriage there is now a growing trend of respect for the Biblical arrangement of marriage.

2. Still far too many marriages are ending in divorce. There is evident something serious is happening between "here comes the bride" and "here comes the judge."

3. The strength and value of marriage can be seen in this passage.

"Two are better than one: because they have a good reward for their labour." Why are two better than one?

1. Support

1. Two are better than one because you have someone to support you and someone you can support. V. 10.

2. The importance of the home in this "dog eat dog" age.

2. Share

1. Two can be better than one because we have someone to share with. Verse 11 says, "Furthermore if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?" (NASV)

a. A basic purpose of marriage is intimacy (Genesis 2:24).

2. Do you recall the sharing of decisions in the beginning? How wonderful and helpful.

3. Strengthen

1. Two are better than one because there is strength in numbers. (cf. Verse 12 "And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him." NASV). Ecclesiastes 4:12

2. Marriage provides strength for facing the dilemmas of life.

3. Marriage provides strength for avoiding the deception of life.

4. Marriage provides strength for fulling the demands of life.


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Verse Comments

the Preacher . . There is no Definite Article here, although it does appear in Ecclesiastes 7:27; Ecclesiastes 12:8. This is a function more than a title. The best translation would be “professor” or “teacher” (BDB 875). - Utley

vanity of vanities . . This is a Hebrew superlative (cf. Ecclesiastes 1:2; Ecclesiastes 12:8). The word means “vapor,” “breath,” or “mist” (BDB 210 I, cf. James 4:14). Its emphasis is either (1) nothingness or (2) the transitoriness of human life. The context supports the latter (cf. H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Ecclesiastes, p. 41).

all is vanity . . Notice the root, “vanity” (BDB 210 I), is used five times in this one verse! The Handbook on Ecclesiastes by UBS, says the term should be understood as: 1. incomprehensible; 2. enigmatic; 3. mysterious; 4. impossible to understand.

Therefore, it communicates the reality that life is full of unanswerable questions (p. 4). The person knowledgeable in wisdom will know this, but will continue to trust God and keep His commandments. - Utley

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 1". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/ecclesiastes-1.html. 2021.
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