Ecclesiastes 7:20

20 Surely there is no one on earth so righteous as to do good without ever sinning.

Ecclesiastes 7:20 Meaning and Commentary

Ecclesiastes 7:20

For [there is] not a just man upon earth
Or "although", or "notwithstanding" F4, wisdom is so beneficial, and guards and strengthens a good man, yet no man has such a share of it as to live without sin; there was not then one on earth, there never had been, one, nor never would be, nor has been, excepting the man Christ Jesus; who indeed, as man, was perfectly just, while here on earth, and went about doing good, and never sinned in all his life; but this cannot be said of any other, no, not of one that is truly and really just; not externally and in his own opinion only, but who is made so by the obedience of Christ, or by his righteousness imputed to him, while he is here on earth; otherwise in heaven, where the spirits of just men are made perfect, there it may be said of them what follows, but nowhere else; that doeth good, and sinneth not;
it is the character of a just man to do good, to do that which is according to the will of God, from a principle of love to him, through faith in him, in the name and strength of Christ, and with a view to the glory of God; to do good in such a sense wicked men cannot; only such who are made good by the grace of God, are regenerated and made new creatures in Christ, are quickened by his Spirit, and are true believers in him; who appear to be what they are, by the fruits of good works they bring forth; and this not in a mercenary way, or in order to obtain life and righteousness, but as constrained by the grace of God, by which they are freely justified; and yet these are not free from sin, as appears by their confessions and complaints, by their backslidings, slips, and falls, and their petitions for fresh discoveries of pardoning grace; and even are not without sin, and the commission of it, in religious duties, or while they are doing good; hence their righteousness is said to be as filthy rags, and mention is made of the iniquity of holy things, ( Isaiah 64:6 ) ( Exodus 28:38 ) . The Targum is,

``that does good all his days, and sins not before the Lord.''
Aben Ezra justly gives the sense thus,
``who does good always, and never sins;''
and observes that there are none but sin in thought, word, or deed. The poet F5 says,
``to sin is common to all men;''
no man, though ever so good, is perfect on earth, or free from sin; see ( 1 Kings 8:46 ) ( Proverbs 20:9 ) ( 1 John 1:8 ) . Alshech's paraphrase is,
``there is not a righteous man on earth, that does good, and sins not; (awhh bwjb) , "in that good";''
which is the true sense of the words.

F4 (yk) "quamvis", Junius & Tremelllus, Amama, so Broughton; "attamen", Grotius.
F5 Sophoclis Antigone, v. 1140.

Ecclesiastes 7:20 In-Context

18 It is good that you should take hold of the one, without letting go of the other; for the one who fears God shall succeed with both.
19 Wisdom gives strength to the wise more than ten rulers that are in a city.
20 Surely there is no one on earth so righteous as to do good without ever sinning.
21 Do not give heed to everything that people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you;
22 your heart knows that many times you have yourself cursed others.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.