Ecclesiastes Outline

Introduction: Ecc_1:1-3

A. Title: Ecc_1:1
B. Theme: Ecc_1:2-3

1. Sweeping conclusion of : Ecc_1:2
2. Guiding question on : Ecc_1:3

I. First Demonstration of Theme: Ecc. 1:4-2:26

A. Introductory Poem: Ecc_1:4-11

1. Constancy of creation: Ecc_1:4-8

a. Cycles of nature and the stability of earth: Ecc_1:4
b. Sun’s journey: Ecc_1:5
c. Wind’s movement: Ecc_1:6
d. Rivers’ flow: Ecc_1:7
e. Human response: Ecc_1:8

2. Absence of novelty: Ecc_1:9-11

B. Reflections on a Royal Experiment: Ecc. 1:12-2:23

1. Anguish of wisdom: Ecc_1:12-18

a. Preacher’s self-introduction: Ecc_1:12
b. Account of Preacher’s quest for wisdom: Ecc_1:13
c. Negative summary appraisal: Ecc_1:14
d. Proverb confirming the appraisal: Ecc_1:15
e. Preacher’s self-evaluation: Ecc_1:16
f. Account of Preacher’s quest for understanding: Ecc_1:17
g. Negative summary appraisal: Ecc_1:17
h. Proverb confirming the appraisal: Ecc_1:18

2. Frustrations of pleasure: Ecc_2:1-11

a. Decision to search for pleasure: Ecc_2:1
b. Negative verdict against pleasure: Ecc_2:12
c. Description of search: Ecc_2:3-8
d. Positive results of search: Ecc_2:9-10
e. Negative verdict against pleasure: Ecc_2:11

3. Lack of permanence: Ecc_2:12-23

a. Wise and fool both die: Ecc_2:12-17
b. Labors may not last: Ecc_2:18-23

4. Alternative Conclusion: Ecc_2:24-26

a. Joy in the commonplace: Ecc_2:24
b. Joy from God alone: Ecc_2:25
c. Mystery of divine grace: Ecc_2:26

II. Second Demonstration of Theme: Ecc. 3:1-4:16

A. Restriction of Human Freedom: Ecc_3:1-15

1. Introductory Statement: Ecc_3:1
2. Poem on fixity of time: Ecc_3:2-8
3. Reflections on fixity of time: Ecc_3:9-11
4. Alternative Conclusion: Ecc_3:12-15

a. Joy in the commonplace: Ecc_3:12-13
b. God’s changeless ways: Ecc_3:14-15

B. Distortion of Justice: Ecc. 3:16-4:16

1. Oppression in the courts: Ecc_3:16-21

a. Observation of oppression: Ecc_3:16
b. Declaration of judgment: Ecc_3:17
c. Reflections on judgment: Ecc_3:18-21

2. Alternative Conclusion: Ecc_3:22

a. Joy in the commonplace: Ecc_3:22
b. No possibility of return: Ecc_3:22

3. Oppression in the marketplace: Ecc_4:1-3

a. Reflection on the fate of the oppressed: Ecc_4:1
b. Conclusion drawn from their fate: Ecc_4:2-3

4. Oppression through competition: Ecc_4:4-6

a. Reflection on the harm of envy: Ecc_4:4
b. Conventional proverb on assertiveness: Ecc_4:5
c. Counter-Proverb on contentment: Ecc_4:6

5. Oppression through compulsiveness: Ecc_4:7-12

a. Reflection on a workaholic: Ecc_4:7-8
b. Sayings on fellowship: Ecc_4:9-12

6. Oppression through fickleness: Ecc_4:13-16

a. Proverb on an incorrigible king: Ecc_4:13
b. Explanation of proverb: Ecc_4:14-16

III. First Words of Advice: Ecc_5:1-12

A. Prudence in Worship: Ecc_5:1-7

1. Listening to God is better than sacrifice: Ecc_5:1
2. Brevity in prayer is better than wordiness: Ecc_5:2-3

a. Admonition against rashness: Ecc_5:2
b. Proverb against verboseness: Ecc_5:3

3. Faithfulness is better than fickleness: Ecc_5:4-7

a. Admonition on paying vows: Ecc_5:4-5
b. Admonition against lying about vows: Ecc_5:6
c. Admonition to fear God: Ecc_5:7

B. Caution Toward Government: Ecc_5:8-9

1. Conspiracy of the bureaucracy: Ecc_5:8
2. Complicity of the king: Ecc_5:9

C. Restraint of Greed: Ecc_5:10-12

1. Proverb against love of money: Ecc_5:10
2. Proverb about expenses rising with income: Ecc_5:11
3. Proverb about the restlessness of the rich: Ecc_5:12

IV. Third Demonstration of Theme: Ecc. 5:13-6:12

A. Reflection on Risks of Bad Investments: Ecc_5:13-17

1. Nothing left for son to inherit: Ecc_5:13-14
2. No joy in life for the broken parent: Ecc_5:15-17

B. Alternative Conclusion: Ecc_5:18-20

1. Joy in the commonplace: Ecc_5:18
2. Ability to enjoy heritage as a divine gift: Ecc_5:19
3. Importance of being occupied with joy: Ecc_5:20

C. Reflection on Frustrations of Fraud or Theft: Ecc_6:1-9

1. Introduction of observation: Ecc_6:1
2. Content of observation: Ecc_6:2
3. Further thoughts on observation: Ecc_6:3-6

a. Dissatisfaction is worse than death: Ecc_6:3-5
b. No length of life can outweigh frustration: Ecc_6:6

4. Proverbs confirming observation: Ecc_6:7-9

a. Sheol has an insatiable appetite: Ecc_6:7
b. Sheol has a leveling quality: Ecc_6:8
c. Sheol prompts us to live now: Ecc_6:9

D. Sayings on the Limits of Human Freedom: Ecc_6:10-12

1. No one can contend with God: Ecc_6:10
2. Wordy arguments make things worse: Ecc_6:11
3. We cannot understand present or future: Ecc_6:12

V. More Words of Advice: Ecc. 7:1-8:9

A. Sobriety Is Better than Levity: Ecc_7:1-7

1. In the face of death: Ecc_7:1-4
2. In the face of injustice: Ecc_7:5-7

B. Caution Is Better than Rashness: Ecc_7:8-10
C. Wisdom Is Better than Folly: Ecc_7:11-12
D. Resignation Is Better than Indignation: Ecc_7:13-14
E. Integrity Is Better than Pretentiousness: Ecc_7:15-22

1. Observation on unsuitable rewards: Ecc_7:15
2. Admonition against extremes in behavior: Ecc_7:16-18
3. Summary saying on the fear of God: Ecc_7:18
4. Implications of the fear of God: Ecc_7:19-20

a. We value wisdom: Ecc_7:19
b. We acknowledge sin: Ecc_7:20

5. Admonition to patience when spoken against: Ecc_7:21-22

F. Reflections on Human Limitations: Ecc_7:23-24

1. Confession of failure in test for true wisdom: Ecc_7:23-24
2. Summary of the test’s intensity and breadth: Ecc_7:25
3. Statement of one discovery: dangers of a grasping woman: Ecc_7:26
4. Elaboration on the search and discovery: Ecc_7:27-28
5. Generalization on the contrast between people as God made them and as they are now: Ecc_7:29
6. Boast of wise man’s success despite seeming failure: Ecc_8:1

G. Admonitions on Respect for Authority: Ecc_8:2-9

1. Admonition to obey the king: Ecc_8:2
2. Admonition not to revolt against the king: Ecc_8:3
3. Four proverbs on authority: Ecc_8:4-7

a. King’s power is absolute: Ecc_8:4
b. Rebellion should wait for the right time: Ecc_8:5
c. Waiting is hard when disaster seems imminent: Ecc_8:6
d. Even kings can’t read the future: Ecc_8:7

4. Proverb on certainty and untimeliness of death: Ecc_8:8
5. Concluding observation on oppressiveness of power: Ecc_8:9

VI. Fourth Demonstration of Theme: Ecc. 8:10-9:12

A. Reflections on the Mysteries of Divine Justice: Ecc_8:10-14

1. Wicked receive attention righteous are forgotten: Ecc_8:10
2. Delays in sentencing cause laxity toward righteousness: Ecc_8:11
3. God will ultimately set things right: Ecc_8:12-13

B. Alternative Conclusion: Ecc_8:15

1. Joy in the commonplace: Ecc_8:15
2. Promise of its endurance: Ecc_8:15

C. Reflections on the Mystery of All Divine Activities: Ecc_8:16-17
D. Reflections on the Universality of Death: Ecc_9:1-6

1. Timing of death unconnected to human conduct: Ecc_9:1-4
2. Proverb on importance of life: Ecc_9:4
3. Poem on importance of life: Ecc_9:5-6

E. Alternative Conclusion: Ecc_9:7-10

1. Joy in the commonplace: Ecc_9:7-9
2. Nothing in the grave: Ecc_9:10

F. Reflections on the Mysteries of Divine Providence: Ecc_9:11-12

1. Sayings on time and chance: Ecc_9:11
2. Sayings on human limitations: Ecc_9:12

VII. Closing Words of Advice: Ecc. 9:13-12:8

A. Guidelines to Practicality: Ecc. 9:13-10:20

1. Reflection on wisdom’s virtue and fragility: Ecc_9:13-18

a. Story of wisdom, effective yet forgotten: Ecc_9:13-16

(1) Introduction: Ecc_9:13
(2) Story: Ecc_9:14-15
(3) Koheleth’s reaction to story: Ecc_9:16

b. Proverbs praising wisdom yet warning of its limits: Ecc_9:17-18

2. Sayings on dangers of folly: Ecc_10:1-3

a. Metaphor on folly’s ability to spoil good achievements: Ecc_10:1
b. Literal descriptions of foolish behavior: Ecc_10:2-3

3. Sayings on kings and citizens: Ecc_10:4-7

a. Admonition to calmness in court: Ecc_10:4
b. Observations on royal folly: Ecc_10:5-7

4. Sayings on the consequences of carelessness: Ecc_10:8-11
5. Sayings on the consequences of unguarded speech: Ecc_10:12-15
6. Sayings on the foibles of the ruling class: Ecc_10:16-20

a. Woe to a land with an unfit ruler: Ecc_10:16
b. Beatitude to a land with disciplined leaders: Ecc_10:17
c. Sayings on dangers of laziness: Ecc_10:18
d. Saying on risk of excessive festivity: Ecc_10:19
e. Admonition on danger of demeaning nobility: Ecc_10:20

B. Principles of Financial Investment: Ecc_11:1-8

1. Admonitions to diversity: Ecc_11:1-2

a. Take a risk: Ecc_11:1
b. Expect a return: Ecc_11:1
c. Divide the risk: Ecc_11:2
d. Hedge against disaster: Ecc_11:2

2. Examples of lessons learned from observation: Ecc_11:3-4

a. Cloud: Ecc_11:3
b. Trees: Ecc_11:3
c. Wind: Ecc_11:4
d. Cloud: Ecc_11:4

3. Examples of what cannot be learned from observation: Ecc_11:5

a. Wind: Ecc_11:5
b. Womb: Ecc_11:5
c. Conclusion: Ecc_11:5

4. Admonitions to timely action: Ecc_11:6

a. Sow seed: Ecc_11:6
b. Do not withhold: Ecc_11:6
c. Reason: you don’t know how growth works: Ecc_11:6

5. Conclusion on enjoying life: Ecc_11:7-8

a. Saying on life’s joy: Ecc_11:7
b. Admonition to remember that death is coming: Ecc_11:8

C. Ground Rules for the Young: Ecc. 11:9-12:8

1. Admonitions to joy: Ecc_11:9-10

a. Live life of joy: Ecc_11:9
b. Motivation: God will judge: Ecc_11:9
c. Avoid life of pain: Ecc_11:10
d. Motivation: youth is brief: Ecc_11:10

2. Admonition to faithfulness: Ecc_12:1-7

a. Call to remember: Ecc_12:1
b. Motivation: death is certain: Ecc_12:1-7

(1) Literal description of old age: Ecc_12:1
(2) Figurative description of old age: Ecc_12:2
(3) Dramatic description of funeral: Ecc_12:3-5
(4) Figurative description of death: Ecc_12:6
(5) Literal description of death: Ecc_12:7

3. Summary of book: sweeping conclusion: Ecc_12:8 Conclusion: Ecc_12:9-14

A. Description of Teacher’s Discipline: Ecc_12:9-11

1. Method of preparation: Ecc_12:9
2. Chief aims: Ecc_12:10

a. Elegant words: Ecc_12:10
b. Truthful words: Ecc_12:10

3. Impact on students: Ecc_12:11

B. Admonitions on Student’s Duty: Ecc_12:12-14

1. Beware of misleading books: Ecc_12:12
2. Fear and obey God: Ecc_12:13
3. Motivation: judgment is certain: Ecc_12:14