Ecclesiastes chapter 3

There is a time for everything. Toil is meaningless. Power corrupts us humans.





VERSE 1. For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:

For everything there is a season. In the verses that follow, the author illustrates this point by contrasting 14 pairs of opposites:

  1. Verse 2. born … die
  2. Verse 2. plant … uproot
  3. Verse 3. kill … heal
  4. Verse 3. break down … build up
  5. Verse 4. weep … laugh
  6. Verse 4. mourn … dance
  7. Verse 5. cast away … gather
  8. Verse 5. embrace … not embrace
  9. Verse 6. seek … lose
  10. Verse 6. keep … cast away
  11. Verse 7. tear … sew
  12. Verse 7. silence … speak
  13. Verse 8. love hate
  14. Verse 8. war … peace


VERSE 2. a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;


VERSE 3. a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;


VERSE 4. a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;


VERSE 5. a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;


VERSE 6. a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;


VERSE 7. a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;


VERSE 8. a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.




VERSE 9. What profit has he who works in that in which he labors?


VERSE 10. I have seen the burden which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with.

the burden. The Hebrew word is inyan. It means task.


VERSE 11. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in their hearts, yet so that man can’t find out the work that God has done from the beginning even to the end.

set eternity in their hearts. We humans have an inner desire to know the extratemporal significance of our existence.


VERSE 12. I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice, and to do good as long as they live.

nothing better for them than to rejoice. That is, to be happy.


VERSE 13. Also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy good in all his labor, is the gift of God.


VERSE 14. I know that whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; and God has done it, that men should fear before him.


VERSE 15. That which is has been long ago, and that which is to be has been long ago: and God seeks again that which is passed away.




VERSE 16. Moreover I saw under the sun, in the place of justice, that wickedness was there; and in the place of righteousness, that wickedness was there.

NLT translation. I also noticed that under the sun there is evil in the courtroom. Yes, even the courts of law are corrupt!

the courts … are corrupt. Back in those days, the religious courts of were corrupt. And it is sometimes true even in our day.


VERSE 17. I said in my heart, “God will judge the righteous and the wicked; for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.”


VERSE 18. I said in my heart, “As for the sons of men, God tests them, so that they may see that they themselves are like animals.

they themselves are like animals. Like the animals, we humans will die, as we see in verse 19 below and in verse 20 below.


VERSE 19. For that which happens to the sons of men happens to animals. Even one thing happens to them. As the one dies, so the other dies. Yes, they have all one breath; and man has no advantage over the animals: for all is vanity.

man has no advantage over the animals. Like the animals, we humans will die, as we see in verse 18 above and in verse 20 below.


VERSE 20. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and all turn to dust again.

all turn to dust. Like the animals, we humans will die, as we see in verse 18 above and in verse 19 above.

Psalm 104:29. You hide your face: they are troubled; you take away their breath: they die, and return to the dust.

Psalm 146:4. His spirit departs, and he returns to the earth. In that very day, his thoughts perish.

Ecclesiastes 3:20. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and all turn to dust again.


VERSE 21. Who knows the spirit of man, whether it goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, whether it goes downward to the earth?”


VERSE 22. Therefore I saw that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his works; for that is his portion: for who can bring him to see what will be after him?

rejoice in his works. The author recommends that we enjoy our work.


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CHAPTERS: 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12

RESOURCES: SummaryOutline, Memorize, Misogynism

Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

At Explore the Faith, I share insights into the Bible and theological writings. If you like what I write, become my partner by donating. Help me reach the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.