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I am perplexed by the scripture that says "..the dead know not anything" Ecclesiastes 9:5. Can you help me on this?

I believe I can help you, as this verse often is asked of me. It is a favourite with false teachers who try to tell us that when you die you know nothing.

To apply this verse to the eternal state is the "wrest the scriptures to one's destruction." 2 Peter 3:16. Thirty-one times in the Book of Ecclesiastes we have the phrase "under the sun." Solomon is writing this book about all the "vain things under the sun." To pull the above verse out of this context and apply it to the eternal state is playing your own tune with the Word of God. The next time you visit a funeral parlour you speak to someone who is dead and you will see what Solomon meant "dead know not anything" The verse continues, "neither have they any more reward." That means never again will they reap their harvest from any labour under the sun.

To interpret the first part of this verse as the eternal state you would have to say the latter phrase "neither have they any more reward" as the eternal state. Yet the scriptures teach a resurrection of both the just and the unjust with due rewards John 5:28-29. and Matthew 16:27. Suppose we take this same phrase "know not anything," in 1 Samuel.20:39, where the lad "knew not anything," we would have to conclude he was unconscious or dead. (see also 2 Samuel 15:11.) Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are dead physically, but Jesus said they were now living in eternity. Luke 20:38. Moses and Elijah are not dead eternally they appeared with Jesus and talked with Him. Matthew 17:3. The dead talked in Revelation 6:9,10. Jesus said "Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." John 11:26. Physical death does not separate a born- again believer from the Lord. Romans 8:38-39. To be absent from the body (physical death) is to be present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8.

All comments and questions to: Harold Smith

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Updated July 2009, by Shelly Allen