Ecclesiastes 1:3

3 What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?

Ecclesiastes 1:3 in Other Translations

3 What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?
3 What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?
3 What do people get for all their hard work under the sun?
3 What's there to show for a lifetime of work, a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone?
3 What does a man gain for all his efforts he labors at under the sun?

Ecclesiastes 1:3 Meaning and Commentary

Ecclesiastes 1:3

What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under
the sun?
] This is a general proof of the vanity of all things, since there is no profit arises to a man of all his labour; for, though it is put by way of question, it carries in it a strong negative. All things a man enjoys he gets by labour; for man, through sin, is doomed and born unto it, ( Job 5:7 ) ; he gets his bread by the sweat of his brow, which is a part of the curse for sin; and the wealth and riches got by a diligent hand, with a divine blessing, are got by labour; and so all knowledge of natural and civil things is acquired through much labour and weariness of the flesh; and these are things a man labours for "under the sun", which measures out the time of his labour: when the sun riseth, man goeth forth to his labour; and, by the light and comfortable warmth of it, he performs his work with more exactness and cheerfulness; in some climates, and in some seasons, its heat, especially at noon, makes labour burdensome, which is called, bearing "the heat and burden of the day", ( Matthew 20:12 ) ; and, when it sets, it closes the time of service and labour, and therefore the servant earnestly desires the evening shadow, ( Job 7:2 ) . But now, of what profit and advantage is all this labour man takes under the sun, towards his happiness in the world above the sun? that glory and felicity, which lies in super celestial places in Christ Jesus? none at all. Or, "what remains of all his labour?" F16 as it may be rendered; that is, after death: so the Targum,

``what is there remains to a man after he is dead, of all his labour which he laboured under the sun in this world?''
nothing at all. He goes naked out of the world as he came into it; he can carry nothing away with him of all his wealth and substance he has acquired; nor any of his worldly glory, and grandeur, and titles of honour; these all die with him, his glory does not descend after him; wherefore it is a clear case that all these things are vanity of vanities; see ( Job 1:21 ) ( 1 Timothy 6:7 ) ( Psalms 49:16 Psalms 49:17 ) ( Ecclesiastes 5:15 ) . And, indeed, works of righteousness done by men, and trusted in, and by which they labour to establish a justifying righteousness, are of no profit and advantage to them in the business of justification and salvation; indeed, when these are done from right principles, and with right views, the labour in them shall not be in vain; God will not forget it; it shall have a reward of grace, though not of debt.

F16 (wlme lkb Nwdty hm) "quid habet amplius homo?" V. L. "quid residui?" Vatablus, Piscator, Mercerus, Gejerus, Rambachius; "quantum enim homini reliquum est, post omnem saum laborem?" Tigurine version.

Ecclesiastes 1:3 In-Context

1 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:
2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
3 What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.

Cross References 1

  • 1. Ecclesiastes 2:11,22; Ecclesiastes 3:9; Ecclesiastes 5:15-16
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