Ecclesiastes 4:12

12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

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Ecclesiastes 4:12 in Other Translations

KJV
12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
ESV
12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him--a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
NLT
12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
MSG
12 By yourself you're unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn't easily snapped.
CSB
12 And if somebody overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 Meaning and Commentary

Ecclesiastes 4:12

And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him
If an enemy, or a thief, or a robber, attack anyone of them, in friendship and fellowship together, and is more than a match for him; both joined together will be able to resist him; so that he shall not succeed in his enterprise, and do the mischief he designed; see ( 2 Samuel 10:11 ) ; Thus, when Satan attacks a single believer, which he chooses to do when alone; so he tempted Eve in the garden, and Christ in the wilderness; and one or more fellow Christians know of it, they are capable of helping their tempted friend, by their advice and counsel, they not being ignorant of Satan's devices; and by striving together in their prayers to God for him: so when false teachers make their efforts, as they usually do, Satan like, upon the weaker sex, and, when alone, they too often succeed; but when saints stand fast in one spirit, and strive together for the faith of the Gospel, they stand their ground, withstand the enemy, and maintain truth; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken;
or "in haste" F3; as two are better than one, so three or more united together, it is the better still; they are able to make head against an enemy; and to conquer him, "vis unita fortior est": if a family, community, city, or kingdom, are divided against themselves, they cannot stand; but, if united, in all probability nothing can hurt them. This doctrine is taught in the fable of the bundle of sticks the old man gave to his sons to break; which, while fastened together, could not be done; but, when art bound, and took out singly, were easily snapped asunder; teaching them thereby unity among themselves, as their greatest security against their common enemy. The same instruction is given by this threefold cord; while it remains twisted together, it is not easily broke, but if the threads are untwisted and unloosed, they are soon snapped asunder: so persons in religious fellowship, be they more or fewer, while they keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, they are terrible, as an army with banners, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against them. And if this is true of the united love and affections of saints, it must be much more so of the love of Father, Son, and Spirit; that threefold cord, with which the saints are drawn and held; and of which it may be said, that it not only is not quickly broken, but that it cannot be broken at all; and therefore those who are held by it are in the utmost safety. Some apply this to the three principal graces, faith, hope, and love, which are abiding ones; and, though they may sometimes be weak and low in their acts and exercise, can never be lost.


FOOTNOTES:

F3 (hrhmb) "in festinatia", Montanus; "in celeritate", Vatablus; "in festinatione", Rambachius.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 In-Context

10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
13 Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to heed a warning.
14 The youth may have come from prison to the kingship, or he may have been born in poverty within his kingdom.

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