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Ecclesiastes-Detailed Outline
A. Superiority of the Way of Wisdom
Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 The Futility of all Human Endeavors
Ecclesiastes 1:1-3 All is vanity.
Ecclesiastes 1:4-11 Unchanging character of the world of nature.
Ecclesiastes 1-2 The Test of Practical Experience, Looking for the Meaning of Life
Ecclesiastes 1:12 Autobiographical introduction
Ecclesiastes 1:13-18 Exploration of wisdom. Wisdom = frustration; knowledge = pain
Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 Meaning of pleasure. There is no profit in toil.
Ecclesiastes 2:12-17 Death is great equalizer. Wisdom is better than foolishness, but death comes to both. All is meaningless.
Ecclesiastes 2:18-23 Death renders toil meaningless. Someone benefits who did not earn it.
Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 God grants enjoyment to some. Meaning is not found in wisdom or hard work. One should just enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
Ecclesiastes 3 Men’s Opportunity Limited by Time
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 Poem expressing the theme that everything has its time. All "time" is covered through expression of opposites.
Ecclesiastes 3:9-15 Reflections on time. God's work is complete; nothing can be added or taken away
Ecclesiastes 3:16-22 Issue of Justice: Injustice often appears where justice should be. Death comes to humans and animals alike. Enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
Ecclesiastes 4 Human Folly Greatly Increased by Oppression
Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 Tears of the oppressed. The dead are better off than the oppressed.
Ecclesiastes 4:4-6 Meaninglessness of work. Motivation is derived out of jealousy.
Ecclesiastes 4:7-12 Benefits of companionship
Ecclesiastes 4:7-8 For whom does a hermit toil.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one.
Ecclesiastes 4:13-16 Story of ambitious young man who gains notoriety, dies anyway, and then is forgotten.
Ecclesiastes 5:1-5:8 The Folly of Insincere Worship
Instruction on proper worship, vows, and oaths is given. If you do them, do them properly.
Ecclesiastes 5:9-6:2 Vanity of Riches
The meaninglessness of wealth: Can never have enough money; contentment is rare.
Ecclesiastes 6:3-11:6 The Vanity of Human Desires
Ecclesiastes 6:10-12 There is Nothing New.
Advice is meaningless.
Ecclesiastes 7:1-14 A series of Proverbs. He chooses the darker features: death over birth; mourning over feasting; sorrow over laughter. Values wisdom more than folly, but neither knows the future.
Ecclesiastes 7:15-22 Limitations of Wisdom and Righteousness: Righteousness does not guarantee a long life; nor does wickedness mean having a short life. Argues that there is no predictable result from one's actions. So why bother…no one is righteous. Preaches moderation in one's approach to wisdom.
Ecclesiastes 7:23-24 Wishing himself to be wise; knows it is beyond his reach.
Ecclesiastes 7:25-29 Seeking does not always result in "finding". God has made people upright but they have sought out many devices.
Ecclesiastes 8:1 Who is wise?
Ecclesiastes 8:2-9 Advise regarding behavior before the king. Obey the king; use caution before entering a vow before God. There is a time for everything though humans cannot know it.
Ecclesiastes 8:10-15 Observations on the wicked. Oftentimes they seem to prosper. No punishment for evilness, hence no motivation to stop. Thinks in the end they will get what they deserve, but in the short term, they do well. Life is meaningless.
Ecclesiastes 8:16-17 Pursued wisdom. Found it to be elusive, unknowable.
Ecclesiastes 9:1-10 Death comes to all regardless of good/evil life. Only option is to enjoy simple pleasures of life while one can. Death brings an end to everything.
Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 Even the present is unpredictable. No one knows his time. Things do not always turn out like we hope.
Ecclesiastes 9:13-16 Illustration on meaninglessness of wisdom. Wisdom in the story was not valued nor rewarded
Ecclesiastes 9:17-18 Positive proverbs on wisdom: Quiet words are better than shouts.
Ecclesiastes 10:1-4 Proverbs contrasting wisdom and folly. A little bad folly can destroy a lot of good wisdom.
Ecclesiastes 10:5-7 Illustration of worldly reversals. Slaves ride and nobles walk.
Ecclesiastes 10:8-11 Life is unpredictable and chaotic. Life is filled with "accidents" waiting to happen. Life is not always fair.
Ecclesiastes 10:12-15 Proverbs mocking foolishness, folly. Fools multiply words without knowing what they mean. Fools are exhausted at the end of the day because they are so inept.
Ecclesiastes 10:16-17 A digression contrasting immature vs. mature king Mature is better
Ecclesiastes 10:18-19 Miscellaneous thoughts on life: Laziness has bad consequences; life should be lived to fullest.
Ecclesiastes 10:20 Regarding the king…never curse him; you may be found out.
Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 Future is always uncertain. Humans do not control when it rains or events around them. But they should act anyway.
Ecclesiastes 11:7-12:8 Advice and Warning to Youth
Ecclesiastes 11:7-10 Inevitability of death. One always lives in the shadow of death. Can come at any time. Rejoice while you are young…it won't last.
Ecclesiastes 12:1-7 Contrast between youth and old age. Remembers youthful pleasures. Uses allegory of decaying house to illustrate decline and death. (Seven verses are one long sentence).
Ecclesiastes 12:8 Everything is meaningless.
Ecclesiastes 12:9-14 Evaluation of Qohelet's wisdom by a different author.
Ecclesiastes 12:9-12 He was a wise man who tried very hard. Describes his efforts positively; he had good intentions. But ends with a warning to his "son". Beware of endless "books". People will exhaust themselves in trying to understand them all.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 Stick with what you know for sure. Fear God and keep his commandments. God will bring every deed into judgment, whether good or evil.

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