Everything Is Meaningless (1:1–11)
The Teacher was right: there is nothing new “under the sun.” But there is something new “under the Son.” Indeed, for Christians, everything is new under Jesus the Son of God, for it is He who makes all things new.
Wisdom Is Meaningless (1:12–18)
12–14 The Teacher had sought wisdom (verse 13), but the only thing wisdom had taught him was that everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind (verse 14)—that is, a chasing after something unattainable. In other words, human wisdom itself was meaningless! Not only was all human striving meaningless, but even seeking wisdom was meaningless!5
15 Here the Teacher inserts a proverb, which states that things are unchangeable (they can’t be straightened out) and that what is lacking is too great to be counted—it can’t be supplied. Therefore, one should accept things the way they are and “make the best of it.”
16–18 Here the Teacher acknowledges that his pursuit of wisdom—and also of madness and folly—was a chasing after the wind; it was in vain. For the only thing that “wisdom” led to was sorrow and grief. The Teacher is, of course, referring to purely human wisdom;6 such wisdom reveals much about our human situation, but it offers us no meaning, no hope.