4 1 And I returned and saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors was power, and they had no comforter. 2 Then I praised the dead who are already dead more than the living who are yet alive; 3 and more fortunate than both is he who hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.
4 And I saw all labour, and all success of work, that it is man's jealousy of his neighbour. This also is vanity and pursuit of the wind. 5 The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh. 6 Better is a handful with quietness, than both hands full with labour and pursuit of the wind.
7 And I returned and saw vanity under the sun. 8 There is one [alone] and without a second; also he hath neither son nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour, neither is his eye satisfied with riches, and [he saith not], For whom then am I labouring, and depriving my soul of good? This also is vanity and a grievous occupation. 9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, and who hath not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one alone be warm? 12 And if a [man] overpower the one, the two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
13 Better is a poor but wise youth than an old and foolish king, who knoweth no more how to be admonished. 14 For out of the prison-house he came forth to reign, although he was born poor in his kingdom. 15 I saw all the living that walk under the sun, with the child, the second, that should stand up in his stead. 16 [There is] no end of all the people, of all that stood before them; those however that come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after the wind.
The Folly of Rash Vows
5 1 Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and draw near to hear, rather 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 the heavens, and thou upon earth; therefore let thy words be few. 3 For a dream cometh through the multitude of business, and a fool's voice through 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 hast vowed. 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 it was an inadvertence. Wherefore should God be wroth at thy voice, and destroy the work of thy hands? 7 For in the multitude of dreams are vanities; so with many words: but fear God.
The Vanity of Life
8 If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter; for a higher than the high is watching, and there are higher than they.
9 Moreover the earth is every way profitable: the king [himself] is dependent upon 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 profit is there to the owner thereof, except the beholding [of them] with his eyes? 12 The sleep of the labourer is sweet, whether he have eaten little or much; but the fulness of the rich doth not suffer him to sleep. 13 There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt; 14 or those riches perish by some evil circumstance, and if he have begotten a son, there is nothing in his hand. 15 As he came forth from his mother's womb, naked shall he go away again as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand. 16 And this also is a grievous evil, that in all points as he came so doth he go away, and what profit hath he, in having laboured for the wind? 17 All his days also he eateth in darkness, and hath much vexation, and sickness, and irritation.
18 Behold what I have seen good and comely: [it is] to eat and to drink, and to enjoy good in all his labour wherewith [man] laboureth under the sun, all the days of his life which God hath given him: for that is his portion. 19 Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and power to eat thereof, and to take his portion and to rejoice in his labour: that is a gift of God. 20 For he will not much remember the days of his life, because God answereth [him] with the joy of his heart.
6 1 There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it is frequent among men: 2 one to whom God giveth riches, wealth, and honour, and he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it: this is vanity, and a sore evil. 3 If a man beget a hundred [sons], and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, but his soul be not filled with good, and also he have no burial, I say an untimely birth is better than he. 4 For it cometh in vanity, and departeth in darkness, and its name is covered with darkness; 5 moreover it hath not seen nor known the sun: this hath rest rather than the other. 6 Yea, though he live twice a thousand years, yet hath he seen no good: do not all go to one place?
7 All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled. 8 For what advantage hath the wise above the fool? what hath the poor, that knoweth to walk before the living? 9 Better is the seeing of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this also is vanity and pursuit of the wind. 10 That which is hath already been named; and what man is, is known, and that he cannot contend with him that is mightier than he.
11 For there are many things that increase vanity: what is man advantaged? 12 For who knoweth what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell man what shall be after him under the sun?
Paul's Thorn in the Flesh
12 1 Well, it is not of profit to me to boast, for 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 out of the body I know not, God knows;) such [a one] caught up to [the] third heaven. 3 And I know such a man, (whether in [the] body or out of the body I know not, God knows;) 4 that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable things said which it is not allowed to man to utter. 5 Of such [a one] I will boast, but of myself I will not boast, unless in my weaknesses. 6 For if I shall desire to boast, I shall not be a fool; for I will say [the] truth; but I forbear, lest any one should think as to me above what he sees me [to be], or whatever he may hear of me. 7 And that I might not be exalted by the exceeding greatness of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn for the flesh, a messenger of Satan that he might buffet me, that I might not be exalted. 8 For this I thrice besought the Lord that it might depart from me. 9 And he said to me, My grace suffices thee; for [my] power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather boast in my weaknesses, that the power of the Christ may dwell upon me. 10 Wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in insults, in necessities, in persecutions, in straits, for Christ: for when I am weak, then I am powerful.
11 I have become a fool; ye have compelled me; for I ought to have been commended by you; for I have been nothing behind those who were in surpassing degree apostles, if also I am nothing. 12 The signs indeed of the apostle were wrought among you in all endurance, signs, and wonders, and works of power. 13 For in what is it that ye have been inferior to the other assemblies, unless that I myself have not been in laziness a charge upon you? Forgive me this injury.
Paul Plans a Third Visit
14 Behold, this third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be in laziness a charge; for I do not seek yours, but you; for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15 Now I shall most gladly spend and be utterly spent for your souls, if even in abundantly loving you I should be less loved. 16 But be it so. I did not burden you, but being crafty I took you by guile. 17 Did I make gain of you by any of those whom I have sent to you? 18 I begged Titus, and sent the brother with [him]: did Titus at all make gain of you? have we not walked in the same spirit? [have we] not in the same steps? 19 Ye have long been supposing that we excuse ourselves to you: we speak before God in Christ; and all things, beloved, for your building up. 20 For I fear lest perhaps coming I find you not such as I wish, and that I be found by you such as ye do not wish: lest [there might be] strifes, jealousies, angers, contentions, evil speakings, whisperings, puffings up, disturbances; 21 lest my God should humble me as to you when I come again, and that I shall grieve over many of those who have sinned before, and have not repented as to the uncleanness and fornication and licentiousness which they have practised.