Ecclesiastes 1–3

1 These are the words of the Preacher, the son of David and king in Jerusalem.

2 “Vanity of vanities,”

says the Preacher;

“vanity of vanities,

all is vanity.”

3 What benefit is there to a man in all his labors

that he toils under the sun?

4 A generation comes, and a generation goes,

but the earth continually remains.

5 The sun comes up, and the sun goes down,

and hurries to the place where it rises.

6 It moves to the south,

and then moves around to the north;

the wind continually travels around,

and it keeps turning on its circuit.

7 All the streams flow into the sea,

and the sea is never filled up.

And to the place where the streams flow,

there they continually return to flow.

8 All matters are wearisome;

a man is not able to speak to them.

The eye is not satisfied with what it sees,

and the ear is not content with what it hears.

9 What has been is the same as what will be,

and what has been done is the same as what will be done;

there is nothing new under the sun.

10 Is there a matter where it is said,

“See, this is truly new”?

Long ago in the past

every matter has already been in our midst.

11 There is not a memory for the former things,

and moreover, there will not be

a memory for the things coming after,

even those things that are yet to come.

12 I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I set my heart to seek and to investigate with wisdom everything that is done under heaven. It is a burdensome task that God has given to the sons of men, by which they may be occupied. 14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and indeed, all is vanity and like chasing the wind.

15 What is bent cannot be straightened,

and what is missing cannot be counted.

16 I spoke in my heart, saying, “I have been great and increased in wisdom more than anyone else who has been before me in Jerusalem, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I set my heart to know wisdom and to know the folly of ideas and to know foolish behavior, and I know that this as well is like chasing the wind.

18 For in an abundance of wisdom is an abundance of frustration,

and he who increases in knowledge also increases in sorrow.

Chapter 2

1 And I said in my heart, “Come, and I will test you with selfish pleasures to experience desires.” And notice that this too is vanity. 2 And I said of frivolous fun, “They are only senseless ideas”; and regarding selfish pleasure, “What purpose is this?” 3 I investigated how to cheer up my body with wine, while my heart was still guiding me with wisdom, in order to grasp folly until I might experience what is good for sons of men to do under heaven during the number of days that they might have life.

4 I accomplished great works. I built houses for myself, and planted myself vineyards. 5 I made for myself royal gardens and parks, and I planted in them all sorts of fruit trees. 6 I made for myself pools of water to irrigate the forests of growing trees. 7 I even bought male and female slaves; even some were born to me in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks more than any who had been in Jerusalem before me. 8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and treasures of kings and provinces. I obtained singers, both men and women, and the delights of the sons of men, and many concubines. 9 So I became great and surpassed anyone who had been in Jerusalem before me. All the while my wisdom remained with me.

10 And everything that my eyes wanted I did not refuse them.

And I did not withhold my heart from any selfish pleasure,

for my heart was glad from all my efforts;

and this was my reward for all my efforts.

11 Then I turned to all the work that my hands had designed

and all the labor that I had toiled to make;

and notice, all of it was vanity and chasing the wind.

And there was no benefit under the sun.

12 So I turned to consider wisdom,

the folly of ideas, and foolish behavior;

for what else can a man do who comes after the king?

Or what more than those have already done?

13 Then I saw that there is more benefit in wisdom than in foolishness,

more benefit in light than in darkness.

14 A wise man has eyes in his head so he sees where he walks,

but the fool continues in darkness.

Yet I perceived

that the same fate overtakes them all.

15 Then I said in my heart,

“What happens to the fool will happen to me also.

So to what advantage is my wisdom?”

Then I said to myself,

“This also is vanity.”

16 For there is no lasting memory for the wise or the fool,

by which in the coming days everyone will be forgotten.

How the wise dies just like the fool!

17 And I began to hate life for the labor that was done under the sun was contemptible to me, for all of this was vanity and chasing the wind. 18 And I despised all the toil in which I labored under the sun, which I will give up to the man who comes after me. 19 And who knows if this man will be wise or a fool? Yet he will gain power over every labor that I have toiled and my use of wisdom under the sun. Also this is vanity. 20 So I turned to give my heart up to despair concerning all the toil of my labors under the sun. 21 For there is a man who labors with wisdom, knowledge, and skill; yet to a man who did not labor for this, he leaves it as his inheritance. This also is vanity and a great distress. 22 For what becomes of a man with all his labor and with the striving in his heart that he toils under the sun? 23 For all his days are sorrowful, and his work is a vexation; even at night his heart finds no rest. Also this is fleeting.

24 There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in his labor. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God. 25 For who can even eat or have enjoyment more so than I? 26 For to a man who is pleasing before Him, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy; but to the sinner He gives the work of gathering and collecting to give him who is pleasing before God. Also this is vanity and chasing the wind.

Chapter 3

1 To everything there is a season,

a time for every purpose under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted;

3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 a time to gain, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time of war, and a time of peace.

9 What benefit does the worker have in his toil? 10 I have seen the task that God has given to sons of men to be concerned with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its appropriate time. He has also put obscurity in their hearts so that no one comes to know the work that God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I experienced that there is nothing better for them than to be glad and do good in their life. 13 And also that everyone should eat and drink and experience good in all their labor. This is a gift of God. 14 I have perceived that everything that God has done will be lasting. And to this there is nothing to be added, and from it there is nothing to be taken away. And God has done this so that in His presence men fear Him.

15 That which is has already been,

and what is to come has also already been;

and God seeks out what has been driven away.

16 Moreover I saw what was under the sun:

In the place of justice, there was wickedness;

and in the place of righteousness, there was wickedness.

17 I thought in my heart:

God will bring judgment

to the righteous and the wicked,

for there is an appropriate time

for every matter and deed.

18 Then I thought in my heart: Regarding the account of sons of men, God is making clear to them to show that they are but animals. 19 For what befalls the sons of men befalls animals; as one dies, so dies the other. There is one breath for all of them; there is no advantage for man any more than animals, for all is vanity. 20 All go to one place: All are from the dust and all return to dust. 21 Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of animals goes down to the earth?

22 So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his labor, for that is his reward. For who will bring him to see what will happen after his life?

2 Corinthians 11:16–33

16 I say again, let no one think that I am a fool. Otherwise, at least receive me as a fool, so that I also may boast a little. 17 What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. 18 Seeing that many boast according to the flesh, I also will boast. 19 For you tolerate fools gladly, seeing you yourselves are wise. 20 For you permit it if a man brings you into bondage, if a man devours you, if a man takes from you, if a man exalts himself, or if a man strikes you on the face. 21 I say to my reproach that we were too weak for that.

But whenever anyone is bold (I speak foolishly), I am bold also. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I speak as a fool. I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 Five times I received from the Jews forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I suffered shipwreck; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by my own countrymen, in perils by the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brothers; 27 in weariness and painfulness, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, and in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside the external things, the care of all the churches pressures me daily. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is led into sin, and I am not distressed?

30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things which concern my weakness. 31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forevermore, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas secured the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me. 33 But I was let down by the wall through a window in a basket and escaped his hands.