If the phrase "know not anything" (Ecclesiastes 9:5 ) means the dead are unconscious in the grave, then

does not the phrase "nor have they any longer a reward" mean there will be no resurrection or rewards after this life - even for Jehovah's Witnesses?

13 Answers

  • Wally
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago
    Favourite answer

    You cannot talk with a Jehovah's Witness about the condition of the dead, without their bringing up Ecclesiastes 9:5. They are taught to use this verse to prove that the Bible supports the idea that the dead know nothing at all.

    In the 1985 book, "Reasoning From the Scriptures", on page 100, under the Heading "What Is the Condition of the Dead?", Ecclesiastes 9:5 is quoted as follows:

    “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.” (NWT)

    This certainly seems, if we are to take this verse literally, to prove that the dead have no conscious existence.

    Ask a Jehovah's Witness what the rest of Ecclesiastes 9:5 says. Most will not be able to tell you. The Watchtower is repeatedly quoting this verse and finishing it partway with a period and quotation mark (.”), instead of showing with an ellipse and quotation mark (...") that there is more to the verse. This is a misleading and dishonest way of printing Scripture.

    Let's take a look at Ecclesiastes 9:5 from the King James Version.

    "For the living know that they shall die; but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten."

    If the Watchtower teaches from this verse that the dead are not conscious of anything, it must also teach as truth what the rest of this verse says, that the dead have no more a reward and the memory of them is forgotten. Does the Watchtower teach that Ecclesiates 9:5 is a literal verse, to be taken as truth?

    So, what does Ecclesiastes 9:5 teach? If we take it literally, the dead are unconscious and will never find a reward or be remembered. The Watchtower teaches that the first half of this verse is literal, but that the second half "is not the case." Perhaps we should look at the context of this passage. If we back up to verse 3, same chapter, we find:

    "This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all..." (KJV)

    If we keep it in context, we find that the writer is talking about events that happen while we are alive, here on earth, "under the sun"!

    This can be better shown by comparing Ecclesiastes 9:5 with other verses of the Bible:

    IS THIS TRUE? “neither have they any more a reward”.

    Jesus said, "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he reward every man according to his works." (Matthew 16:27, KJV)

    IS THIS TRUE? “for the memory of them is forgotten”.

    Jesus said' "But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." (Matthew 22:31,32, KJV)

    IS THIS TRUE? “they are conscious of nothing at all”.

    Moses (who died at the age of 120 years and was buried by God - see Deuteronomy 34:7) and Elijah (who never died but was taken up by a whirlwind into heaven – see 2 Kings 2:11), were both seen with Jesus in the transfiguration by three of Jesus' disciples.

    "And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him." (Matthew 17:1-3, KJV)

    Indeed it seems, because of this comment from Peter in Matthew 17:4, as if the disciples had seen Elijah and Moses with their own eyes and had recognized them:

    "Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.” (KJV)

    Were Moses and Elijah "conscious of nothing at all"?

    The great hope is to be with Christ at death, not to be dead and conscious of nothing at all.

    What did the first martyr, Stephen, see and say as he was stoned to death?

    Acts 7:55, 56: "But he (Stephen), being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." (KJV)

    Acts 7:59: “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." (KJV)

    What was the great hope of Paul, who as Saul had witnessed the stoning of Stephen?

    Philippians 1:21, 23: "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." "For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:” (KJV)

    2 Corinthians 5:6-8: "Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (KJV)

    We must be very careful what we teach as truth from the book of Ecclesiastes. The writer of the book is identified in chapter 1, verse 1, as the son of David, king in Jerusalem. This was Solomon. Page 44 of the Watchtower Society's 1950 booklet, "Evolution versus the New World" identifies Solomon as the writer of Ecclesiastes. The theme of the book is identified in the second verse of chapter one, "vanity of vanities; all is vanity." Solomon is showing what a life and all its accomplishments are without God; it is hardly a life to pattern our lives after. Better we should pattern our lives after Paul, who had a desire "to be with Christ; which is far better.

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  • 1 decade ago

    The Bible has had it right for millenniums. “A live dog is better off than a dead lion. For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they anymore have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten.” (Ecclesiastes 9:4, 5)

    Does that mean there is absolutely no hope for the dead? Jesus Christ preach about resurrection to life on a restored paradise earth. His Jewish follower Martha, whose brother, Lazarus, had just died, believed in the resurrection, for she said of Lazarus: “I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.” (John 11:24) To this, Jesus answered: “I am the resurrection and the life. He that exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life; and everyone that is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25, 26) Earlier, he had said: “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.” John 5:28, 29; Luke 23:43.

    As you can see there will be a resurrection of both the righteous. and the unrighteous.

    Please do further research in you Bible to get a better understanding.

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  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    full verse: Ecclessiaste 9:5 For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. -"no more reward" means in this physical life. The verse continues the memory of them is forgotten - still speaking of our physical world. Everyone sleeps until the resurrection. 1Thessalonians 4:14-17 For if we believe that Yahshua died and rose again, even so Yahweh will bring with Him those who sleep in Yahshua. For this we say to you by the word of Yahweh, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Master will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Master Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of Yahweh. And the dead in Messiah will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Master in the air. And thus we shall always be with Yahweh. --not a JW--

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  • 6 years ago

    Of course a dead body is not conscious. And who would want to talk to a JW anyway? They're all nut jobs.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    it means in a way that the dead are sleeping like Jesus said and will be awakened in the resurrection, in death many think the souls roam the earth and appear as ghost.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Wally has hit this bang on. I sincerely hope the JWs read and think about his answer.

    Solomon wrote the entire book Ecclesiastes to show how meaningless life would be if there is no God. To show that no matter how good you are or what you accomplish in life it means NOTHING if there is no God.

    This was not a lesson on what life IS like beyond death, but rather a lesson on how it would be if there was NO GOD. Life would be meaningless, we would cease to exist.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Ecclesiastes contrasts 'life under the sun without God, which is meaningless' with 'life with God in it, culminating with fear God and keep His commandments as the whole duty of man'. This whole book of just 12 chapters mentions 'God' 50 times!

    Eccl. 9:5 refers more to the state of the dead body which returns to dust, and does not refer to the soul & spirit which returns to God.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I read this in context and I don't think he was stating how things are as much as he was saying life is what it is so make the best of it.

    I don't get how the Watchtower can decide doctrine from this verse.

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  • Anonymous
    6 years ago


    The Economy Takes A Dip, But Analysts Look For It To Snap

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  • VMO
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    No. "Sakar" was the Hebrew word used, and it literally means wages or fee. When you die, you're no longer under the wager of sin.

    Romans 6:23

    For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    If we have no more wages, reward, fee ect, then it is gone, just like our thoughts. Can you show me a scripture where it shows any unfaithful person being burned in hell?


    Theres so many things with Wally's post its just ridiculous.

    The first thing that jumps out to me in this post is that he thinks the Soul and the Spirit are the same thing when they are not.

    Before I go any further, what about the account at the transfiguration mountain?

    The first thing Wally needs to understand is that no man prior to Jesus Christ has ever went to Heaven.

    John 3:13

    And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, [even] the Son of man which is in heaven.

    Clearly, this scripture proves that no man has went to Heaven before Jesus, so this rules out Moses and Elijah actually being there.

    Matthew 17:9

    And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead

    Again, Jesus clearly states that what they say was a vision, and not that they were actually there.

    What about 2 Corinthians 5:6-8? Those of the anointed that die go straight to Heaven, and they will be absent from the body and take on a new one while they rule with Jesus Christ in heaven. Thats why Paul talked about earthy bodies and heavenly bodies.

    1Corinthiansr 15:40

    [There are] also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial [is] one, and the [glory] of the terrestrial [is] another.

    If anyone notice that none of his scriptures prove of the dead being conscious of anything. Those who are resurrected to heaven are no longer are no longer dead because they are alive in Heaven.

    No no man went to Heaven prior to Jesus Christ, where was Moses, Job, David, Solomon, Abraham ect?

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  • 1 decade ago

    No... it means that they cannot feel ANY pain, they DEAD. The entire Notion that once you dead you go to " hellfire" to Burn is Asinine since you yourself have qouted the scripture above. If you dead, and suddenly have to experience pain, then it means you Not dead afterall. What would experience pain, definitely not you, or the flesh since God told Adam, dust you are and to dust you will return.

    Our senses, along with our thoughts, are all linked to the workings of our brain. At death, the brain stops working. Our memories, feelings, and senses do not continue to function independently in some mysterious way. They do not survive the destruction of our brain.

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