Anonymous asked in Society & CultureReligion & Spirituality · 8 years ago

I seem to remember that in Ecclesiastes, there is a suggestion that no afterlife exists?

What is the Christian explanation for this?

8 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Best Answer

    If you read the whole book of Ecclesiastes, you'll find a number of unusual "gems." For instance, “Dead flies make a perfumer's oil stink, so a little foolishness is weightier than wisdom and honor.” (10:1); “Men prepare a meal for enjoyment, and wine makes life merry, and money is the answer to everything.” (10:10); “Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes.” (11:9)

    There are two different viewpoints presented in the book of Ecclesiastes: The first 11 chapters primarily present the secular, humanistic, materialistic view of Solomon at a time in his life when he was not serving the Lord. The theme of the first 11 chapters could be stated as, “Man’s Wisdom Under the Sun.” This is verified in 1:13, 14 and 17. The first 11 chapters of Ecclesiastes are definitely in the Bible for a reason (although most Christians realize they are NOT for us to try and extract essential doctrine from). Rather, they are presented as a stark contrast to the final chapter, which does present a theistic (or God’s) viewpoint. “For man goes to his eternal home while mourners go about in the street.” (12:5); “then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” (12:7); “For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” (12:14)

    Solomon's viewpoint (from his vantage point of "wisdom under the sun") does contradict God's view at times. For instance, "Are you not worth more than the birds of the air?" (Mat. 6:26). It also contradicts Mat. 25:34, 41, 46, because all men don't even share the same fate. However, I also agree with Ann that these verses are often misinterpreted (particularly by cults). Many evangelical scholars interpret this passage to mean that the dead are not conscious of events taking place in the PHYSICAL realm, as the passage says, "they will no longer have a share in all that is done UNDER THE SUN." While evangelical scholars interpret Ecclesiastes 9:5 in different ways, ALL OF THEM agree that the verse is NOT teaching that man does not have a conscious existence following death.

    Ecclesiastes presents two contrasting ways of looking at man's plight in the world. One is the secular, humanistic, materialistic viewpoint that interprets all things from a limited, earthly perspective--not recognizing God or His involvement in man's affairs. The other perspective is a godly, spiritual one that interprets life and its problems from a God-honoring viewpoint. This viewpoint takes divine revelation into account when interpreting life and its problems. This perspective triumphs in the last chapter of Ecclesiastes.

    Jesus clearly taught that the dead ARE in fact, conscious in Luke 16:19-31. Jesus related that this man in Hades was conscious, and he remembered his life and his family. In fact, he begged for someone to be sent back from the dead to warn his five brothers "so that they will not also come to this place of torment." (v. 27-8)

    According to first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, "the doctrine of the Saducees is this: that souls die with the bodies." But in Luke 20:38, Jesus contradicts this view of the Saducees.

    "For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him."

    In effect, Jesus is saying, "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, though they died many years ago, are actually living today. For God, who calls Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is NOT the God of the dead but of the living." Jesus' words clearly indicate that these Old Testament patriarchs are living at that present moment (by the tense of the word for live, which is NOT future tense), even though they physically died years before.

  • "All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knows whether the human spirit goes upward and the spirit of animals goes downward to the earth?" (Ecclesiastes 3:20–21).

    the suggestion is more agnostic with respect to afterlife, rather than a denial.


  • 8 years ago

    in Ecclesiastes 3:18-20 it talks about how man will realize that they are like animals, that when they die their bodies will turn to dust. however if you read verse 21 of the same chapter, the author acknowledges that the soul will return to heaven to be judged. the author acknowledges that there is an afterlife.

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    "What is the Christian explanation for this?"

    The Christian explanation is that belief in an after life did not come until late in the Old Testament period. By New Testament times, however, it was well established, except amongst the Sadducees.

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  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    If you take all the scripture that speaks of the afterlife, and all the prophets like David who said God wouldn't leave his soul in sheol, or Job who said that though he die, he would see God in the flesh - then you are left to two conclusions - (1) the scripture in Eccl is incorrect, or (2) the scripture in Eccl is interpreted incorrectly. I believe the latter. I think Solomon was talking about a man having no more part or memory or thought in this life, because his part is now in the next. Same idea in Jesus saying "let the dead take care of the dead, and the living take care of the living"

  • 8 years ago

    Ecclesiastes 3:18-20 (King James Version)

    18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.

    19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

    20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

    Most of them don't seem to have any idea that passage is in the Bible.

  • 8 years ago

    Ecclesiastes 12:6 - 7

    "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. "

    It doesn't anything besides that the spirit goes back to God. As wise as Solomon was, he was NOT given the revelation of everlasting life. That was for Jesus to tell us about.

  • Otto
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    I think, death is the opposite of life.

    Yes Eccl. 9:5,6 said :". . . the dead, the are conscious of nothing at all."

    Source(s): Bible
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