Pleasures Are Meaningless

I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure(A) to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. “Laughter,”(B) I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” I tried cheering myself with wine,(C) and embracing folly(D)—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.

I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself(E) and planted vineyards.(F) I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves(G) who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold(H) for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces.(I) I acquired male and female singers,(J) and a harem[a] as well—the delights of a man’s heart. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem(K) before me.(L) In all this my wisdom stayed with me.

10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
    I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
    and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
    and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;(M)
    nothing was gained under the sun.(N)

Wisdom and Folly Are Meaningless

12 Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom,
    and also madness and folly.(O)
What more can the king’s successor do
    than what has already been done?(P)
13 I saw that wisdom(Q) is better than folly,(R)
    just as light is better than darkness.
14 The wise have eyes in their heads,
    while the fool walks in the darkness;
but I came to realize
    that the same fate overtakes them both.(S)

15 Then I said to myself,

“The fate of the fool will overtake me also.
    What then do I gain by being wise?”(T)
I said to myself,
    “This too is meaningless.”
16 For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered;(U)
    the days have already come when both have been forgotten.(V)
Like the fool, the wise too must die!(W)

Toil Is Meaningless

17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.(X) 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me.(Y) 19 And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish?(Z) Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21 For a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun?(AA) 23 All their days their work is grief and pain;(AB) even at night their minds do not rest.(AC) This too is meaningless.

24 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink(AD) and find satisfaction in their own toil.(AE) This too, I see, is from the hand of God,(AF) 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?(AG) 26 To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom,(AH) knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth(AI) to hand it over to the one who pleases God.(AJ) This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Footnotes

  1. Ecclesiastes 2:8 The meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.

Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?”
    Let the light of your face shine on us.(A)
Fill my heart(B) with joy(C)
    when their grain and new wine(D) abound.

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Closing Appeal for Steadfastness and Unity

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for,(A) my joy and crown, stand firm(B) in the Lord in this way, dear friends!

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind(C) in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers,(D) whose names are in the book of life.(E)

Final Exhortations

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!(F) Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.(G) Do not be anxious about anything,(H) but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.(I) And the peace of God,(J) which transcends all understanding,(K) will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.(L) And the God of peace(M) will be with you.

Thanks for Their Gifts

10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me.(N) Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content(O) whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry,(P) whether living in plenty or in want.(Q) 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.(R)

14 Yet it was good of you to share(S) in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days(T) of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia,(U) not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only;(V) 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica,(W) you sent me aid more than once when I was in need.(X) 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account.(Y) 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus(Z) the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant(AA) offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs(AB) according to the riches of his glory(AC) in Christ Jesus.

20 To our God and Father(AD) be glory for ever and ever. Amen.(AE)

Final Greetings

21 Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me(AF) send greetings. 22 All God’s people(AG) here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.

23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ(AH) be with your spirit.(AI) Amen.[a]

Footnotes

  1. Philippians 4:23 Some manuscripts do not have Amen.

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