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Preaching from the Most Relevant Book in the Bible

How to read, exegete, and apply the book of Ecclesiastes.

Preaching from the Most Relevant Book in the Bible


I can almost hear some preachers saying: "Ecclesiastes is the most relevant book in the Bible? You must be joking or completely out of touch Dr. Wenig! If you've ever really read it, you'd know about the book's challenging format, inherent mystery, and even its pervasive cynicism. Aren't you aware of the historical concerns over the book's canonicity, the never-ending debates about its authorship (who was 'the Teacher'?), and its moody existential tone?"

Other church leaders might go further and point out that Ecclesiastes has never had a big fan base, even through much of the church's history. With the sheer amount of energy needed just for physical and ecclesiastical survival, medieval popes like Gregory the Great could not have identified with the Teacher's affluence and existential dilemmas. And while some early modern pastors such as Luther saw some value in the book's teaching on household management, most did not see much applicability to their own contexts and concerns. ...

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May 20, 2015  1:23am

I've always felt that the amazing relevance of Eccl. lies in it's duplication of the modern experiment which involves trying to discover by experience, without revelation from God, what is meaningful and satisfying to do in life. Other Bible books speak into our world from the perspective of divine revelation. This book reverses the approach. It turns aside deductive divine revelation, and starts from ground up on an inductive quest to discover truth by experience and experiment "under the sun." The author discovers by experience that life lived "under the sun," without reference to God, is vain, senseless and meaningless. It does not make sense. In the end, secular experimentation, and divine revelation, teach us the same thing. The God-filled life is commended as the preferred route to meaningful purposeful fulfillment. The author's experiment describes pretty precisely the experiment being conducted by countless graduates heading for secular university campuses.

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Jenai Rothnie

May 12, 2015  2:08pm

Thank you! A number of years back, the young adult Bible study I was in went through Ecclesiastes. We were all pleasantly surprised at how much real-world application it had. Mourning, relationships, labor, etc - it was a wonderful book to go through. We had two teachers. One focused on word-study and context, the other on history of the book and application. It remains to this day the book I find the most concretely practical besides Proverbs, and the most relevant to daily living and putting things in proper perspective. Strangely, I often encounter views from other Christians, even Pastors, that Ecclesiastes is 'weird', 'irrelevant', or 'can't be understood without a good commentary'.

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Matt Wolf

May 12, 2015  12:24pm

This is a great resource for any preacher - thanks! I wouldn't get too caught up in the title of the article. Sure, some books of the Bible may be more pertinent to your congregation than others, but I consider each one relevant in some capacity.

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Matthew Woodley

May 11, 2015  2:42pm

Chrisoph: I hope you took time to read the whole article. The title was a bit tongue-in-cheek. We wanted to draw attention to an often overlooked and under-preached portion of Scripture. Please see Jeremy's comment below. -- Matt Woodley, Editor

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May 11, 2015  10:54am

Good article, you are obviously not trying to draw a line under Ecclesiastes as 'the book of books' in The Bible, but your metaphors certainly draw our attention to the perhaps under appreciated relevance and usefulness of this book for The Church today. Helpful and informative.

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