4 1 Then I returned and saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and, behold, the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter. 2 Wherefore I praised the dead that have been long dead more than the living that are yet alive; 3 yea, better than them both [did I esteem] him that hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.
4 Then I saw all labor and every skilful work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. 5 The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh. 6 Better is a handful, with quietness, than two handfuls with labor and striving after wind.
7 Then I returned and saw vanity under the sun. 8 There is one that is alone, and he hath not a second; yea, he hath neither son nor brother; yet is there no end of all his labor, neither are his eyes satisfied with riches. For whom then, [saith he], do I labor, and deprive my soul of good? This also is vanity, yea, it is a sore travail. 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, and hath not another to lift him up. 11 Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm [alone]? 12 And if a man prevail against him that is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
13 Better is a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king, who knoweth not how to receive admonition any more. 14 For out of prison he came forth to be king; yea, even in his kingdom he was born poor. 15 I saw all the living that walk under the sun, that they were with the youth, the second, that stood up in his stead. 16 There was no end of all the people, even of all them over whom he was: yet they that come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind.
The Folly of Rash Vows
5 1 Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God; for to draw nigh to hear is better than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they know not that they do evil. 2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. 3 For a dream cometh with a multitude of business, and a fool's voice with a multitude of words.
4 When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou vowest. 5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. 6 Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that is was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thy hands? 7 For in the multitude of dreams there are vanities, and in many words: but fear thou God.
The Vanity of Life
8 If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and the violent taking away of justice and righteousness in a province, marvel not at the matter: for one higher than the high regardeth; and there are higher than they.
9 Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king [himself] is served by the field. 10 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance, with increase: this also is vanity. 11 When goods increase, they are increased that eat them; and what advantage is there to the owner thereof, save the beholding [of them] with his eyes? 12 The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much; but the fulness of the rich will not suffer him to sleep. 13 There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun, [namely], riches kept by the owner thereof to his hurt: 14 and those riches perish by evil adventure; and if he hath begotten a son, there is nothing in his hand. 15 As he came forth from his mother's womb, naked shall he go again as he came, and shall take nothing for his labor, which he may carry away in his hand. 16 And this also is a grievous evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that he laboreth for the wind? 17 All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he is sore vexed, and hath sickness and wrath.
18 Behold, that which I have seen to be good and to be comely is for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy good in all his labor, wherein he laboreth under the sun, all the days of his life which God hath given him: for this is his portion. 19 Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God. 20 For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth [him] in the joy of his heart.
6 1 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is heavy upon men: 2 a man to whom God giveth riches, wealth, and honor, so that he lacketh nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but an alien eateth it; this is vanity, and it is an evil disease. 3 If a man beget a hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul be not filled with good, and moreover he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he: 4 for it cometh in vanity, and departeth in darkness, and the name thereof is covered with darkness; 5 moreover it hath not seen the sun nor known it; this hath rest rather than the other: 6 yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, and yet enjoy no good, do not all go to one place?
7 All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled. 8 For what advantage hath the wise more than the fool? [or] what hath the poor man, that knoweth how to walk before the living? 9 Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this also is vanity and a striving after wind. 10 Whatsoever hath been, the name thereof was given long ago; and it is know what man is; neither can he contend with him that is mightier than he.
11 Seeing there are many things that increase vanity, what is man the better? 12 For who knoweth what is good for man in [his] life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?
Paul's Thorn in the Flesh
12 1 I must needs glory, though it is not expedient; but I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ, fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I know not; or whether out of the body, I know not; God knoweth), such a one caught up even to the third heaven. 3 And I know such a man (whether in the body, or apart from the body, I know not; God knoweth), 4 how that he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5 On behalf of such a one will I glory: but on mine own behalf I will not glory, save in [my] weaknesses. 6 For if I should desire to glory, I shall not be foolish; for I shall speak the truth: but I forbear, lest any man should account of me above that which he seeth me [to be], or heareth from me. 7 And by reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations, that I should not be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I should not be exalted overmuch. 8 Concerning this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for [my] power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
11 I am become foolish: ye compelled me; for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing was I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I am nothing. 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, by signs and wonders and mighty works. 13 For what is there wherein ye were made inferior to the rest of the churches, except [it be] that I myself was not a burden to you? forgive me this wrong.
Paul Plans a Third Visit
14 Behold, this is the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be a burden to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15 And I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more abundantly, am I loved the less? 16 But be it so, I did not myself burden you; but, being crafty, I caught you with guile. 17 Did I take advantage of you by any one of them whom I have sent unto you? 18 I exhorted Titus, and I sent the brother with him. Did Titus take any advantage of you? walked we not in the same spirit? [walked we] not in the same steps? 19 Ye think all this time that we are excusing ourselves unto you. In the sight of God speak we in Christ. But all things, beloved, [are] for your edifying. 20 For I fear, lest by any means, when I come, I should find you not such as I would, and should myself be found of you such as ye would not; lest by any means [there should be] strife, jealousy, wraths, factions, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults; 21 lest again when I come my God should humble me before you, and I should mourn for many of them that have sinned heretofore, and repented not of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they committed.