Design a site like this with
Get started

Ecclesiastes 1:3 | Word Study

What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? Eccl. 1:3 (KJV)

‘What’ is derived from mâ מָה; it is an interrogative pronoun. (H4100)[1] ‘Labour’ is derived from ʿāmāl עָמָל. A range of translation follows this word: labour, mischief, misery, perverse, wickedness, et cetera. (H5999)[2] Labour here could mean, ‘a miserable toil.’ The supposition being, every labour has a result – a gain. But the kind of labour Qôheleth seems to suggest here only results in misery. The word ‘under’ is taken from taḥaṯ תַּחַת. And it has an interesting meaning. As a conjunction it means ‘instead’ or ‘in lieu of.’ (H8478)[3] The imagery on can paint here is of a farmer labouring on the field, but instead of relying on the natural processes of sun, rain, wind, et cetera, he uses all artificial means. As a consequent, his labour always results in more trouble, and misery. Metaphorically, all human labour that replaces the sun (the Son of God) as its source of substance, the result will always be troublesome.


As human beings, labour is probably the most honest thing allotted to our lot. We are sustained by an honest day of work. We sleep in the comfort of a hard day’s labour. We built our lives, we share love, and help others through labour and pain. But then there is labour which is a fool’s toil. Quite similarly, there was labour in Eden, and then there was labour cursed to our very being after the fall. Qôheleth doesn’t seem to be speaking of labour as something negative. But he seems to be pointing us towards the reality of labour. And that, all of our labour neatly fits the second category when its motivation is not born out of the Holy Spirit, Christ, and the Father. 

Image: George Frederic Watts, Jonah (1894)




Creation Account of Womenhood

YHWH it seems, created woman as the crowning glory for the created world. The splendor of such implied intentions, revealed in the scriptures, has such mangnanimous offering that John MacArthur spoke of Eve as “a glorious refinement of humanity itself1. For he reasoned, “Eve wasn’t made out of dust like Adam, but carefully designed from living flesh and bone2. And so, if Adam was a refined dust, Eve was a refinement of Adam. It makes one wonder if that means, YHWH held women superior in His creation? Now, although that sounds appealing to the modern sensibilia, it wasn’t so. Neither was woman made inferior to man. The relationship woman was created to have in response to man, was designed to reflect, the Church’s relationship to Christ. In saying so, what it means is that, it is not about superiority nor inferiority, but about what is just; or justified in the eyes of God.

Christ and the Church:

For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church” (Ephesians 5:23, KJV). The word head here, i.e. kephal (in Greek), means the head, in the physical sense, and authority, in the metaphorical sense.3 And so, in literature, whenever the word has been used for a person, it has always been used as an authoritative figure in the position of governance.4 The Church on the other hand, is treated in the feminine sense, in the scriptures. It is called as the Bride of Christ (Revelations 19:7-9, 21:2).5 The Church, or Ekklesia (in Greek) means ‘called out’; or in other words, an assembly of those called out by God.6 To paint this picture more accurately, let us consider Jesus’ own words here. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me… (John 6:37, KJV) that all of which he hath given me I should lose nothing (John 6:39, KJV)”. In other words, the Church is a woman that YHWH has chosen out of humanity to give it to His Son Jesus Christ, as His bride. And it is for this bride, that Christ gave His life, to protect her, and save her, until she is given to Him in full glory (Ephesians 1:14) at the end of days. In the epistles, we also see, Adam being spoken as the first in the line of flesh; and Christ, as the first born of Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45), through whom we are all adopted into the divine family (Galatians 4:5, Ephesians 1:5). The purpose for revisiting these imagery, is to renew our minds towards the scriptural fact that, man was created in the image of God. “So God created in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27, KJV). Therefore, the relationship between male and female, is bound to be reflective of the relationship the creation has with the creator.

Comparision of Adam and Jesus Christ, and Eve and the Church (Complimentarian roles):

  • Authority: Adam, soon after his creation, was given dominion over all the creation (Genesis 1:28). Jesus Christ, likewise, we see given the same authority over all that exists, the Church included (Ephesians 1:22). Man therefore, is given the position of authority, as an imitation of His divine governance (1 Corinthians 11:3).
  • Submission: Woman was created as a suitable help for Adam (Gensis 2:20). And her subordination to Adam, was reflective in the act, wherein, YHWH made Adam name her, as he did all the other animals (Gensis 2:23). Similarly, we see, the Church being subordinate to Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3). Woman, conclusively, as a continuation of such divine ordinance, is given the position of subordination.
  • Love: By having authority, it does not mean, a man may execute it to the pursuit and fulfillment of his own will and desires. No! Because, even Jesus Christ came to fulfill YHWH’s will (John 6:38). And if, man is in any way, brought in the likeness of Christ, over having the position of governance over the woman, as Christ has over the Church, he ought to do the Will of God. How does one do the will of God? By studying the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). And how does one execute the Will of God (in respect to his relationship with the woman)? One does so in love: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave herself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). What does loving like Christ means? 1 John 3:16 says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us“. The man is further tasked with the position of being a protector (Ephesians 5:22), and a priest (Ephesians 5:26) to her. By protecting, it means, he elucidates the scriptures to her, as Christ did revealed the will of the father to us (John 17:25-26). It means, the man is tasked to protect her from the deceptive work of the devil, the way Adam was supposed to protect Eve. By priest, it means, he is tasked for her intercession, both in spirit, and in all pious persuits of hers, towards Christlikness.
  • Submission: There are two characteristics, uniquely, the female has, in greater proportion (if not, at all) in comparision to man. And that is, care and nurture. The reason is that, it is in the domain of the woman to see, the execution of God’s will to its fruitful end. A minor note here, one shouldn’t misunderstand this with the work of the Holy Spirit in the matter of the work of salvation. To make this point clear, let us take the analogy of a physical household. The father seeds the offspring. The father protects and provides. The mother on the other hand, births the offspring, and nurtures them until they reach the age of reason. Similarly, it is the woman’s position to help nourish the faith of the elect, be it in the household, or in the Church. Therefore, she is called to submission, just as the Church submits to Christ. Because, similarly, the Church is tasked to evangelize (Acts 2, 1 Peter 2:9), and to nourish the elect (Hebrews 10:25).

Feminism, a bane to biblical womanhood: Eve’s Curse

If women are called to a life of submission, juxtaposition to the governance of the man, what does that look like? It means:

  • Woman ought to be quite learners (1 Timothy 2:11, 1 Corinthians 14:34)
  • Woman cannot teach in corporate gatherings (1 Timothy 2:12)7
  • Woman cannot be leaders (1 Timothy 2:13)8
  • Woman ought to cover their heads (1 Corinthians 11:3)
  • Woman ought to dress modestly (1 Peter 3:1-6).

To the modern sensibilia, these teachings have an offensive appeal. For the feminine ego is hurt, when it is told to submit to the authority of man. Yes! Men are not better than women, that they ought to submit to them; neither is women worst than men. Indeed, there are women far more superior, both intellectually and morally than most men. But these teachings, that has come down to us through the Word of God aren’t about who is better and who is worst. Note that the scripture calls everyone equally, and disgustingly unworthy, to be attributed with any kind of goodness. Psalm 143:2 says, “for no one is righteous before you” (NIV). Note, only God is good (Mark 10:18).

But feminists, and liberals, pursue to champion the counterfeit egalitarian views borrowed from humanitarianism in the Church. Perhaps, these are ancient heresies in modern packages. I say ancient, because, such opinions were already prevalent in the times of The Apostles, so much so, that The Apostle Paul had to write about it to Timothy. The problem is simply this – libertarians perceive a breach of equality in such scriptures. And they opine, woman to have the equal position that the scriptures bestows upon man, as a way of forwarding feminine might. MacArthur notes, the inner antithetical view of such propositions. He wrote, “… feminist movement of our generation… has devalued and defamed femininity… women are… encouraged to act and talk like men… disparaging the role of motherhood, the one calling that is most uniquely and exclusively feminine. The whole message of feminist egalitarianism is that there is really nothing extraordinary about women9.

But the scriptural views of gender aren’t anti-egalitarian. For the scriptures call for mutual submission. How can a man love without submitting to the wife? Love implies submission. It is mutual submission, that the scriptures imply here. Matthew Henry writes, “The greatest honor of any man or woman lies in a humble and faithful deportment of themselves in the relation or condition in which Providence has placed them10. Because, again, to quote Henry, “And this is fit in the Lord, it is becoming the relation, and what they are bound in duty to do, as an instance of obedience to the authority and law of Christ11.

The scripture is not about egalitarianism, yet, it speaks of mutual submission, invoking equal footing for both genders. It is not about equality, but is about what is ‘fit’ in the eyes of God (Colossians 3:8). To quote, John Gill’s famous words, “the woman was made out of the man, out of one of his ribs; and so, though not to be trampled under his feet, but to be by his side, and an help meet to him, yet not to be head, or to rule over him.” In the similar vein, Henry wrote, “the woman was made… out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved12.

Man and woman were both made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). They are both equal in the eyes of God. And yet, they were made differently, for different purposes. It is crucial to note that, Adam was made first, and Eve, second. The scriptures make a very clear distinction about this point (1 Timothy 2:13-14). This implies, inequality, in the egalitarian perspective. In other words, the creation account of man and woman does not imply egalitarian equality. The scripture also says, out of man, woman was created (Genesis 2:21-23), as through Christ, the Church is won (Ephesians 5:27). And so, just as the Church is joined to Christ as His body (Ephesians 5:30), man and woman are designed to be of one flesh (Ephesians 5:31, Genesis 2:24). This further implies, the nature of gender to be strictly, binary; there is only male and female; for it is only the union of male and female imitates, the glorious union of the Church and Christ. Therefore, the feminist propaganda, to equate women to men, or to grand them an air of superiority over men, violates God’s design of the sexes. Feminism, in simpler words, is an outright act of disobedience against the divine will of God, on the matter of the sexes.

Although, it is true, history attests women to have suffered a great deal of injustice. It is unfortunate. But then again, what has been just since the fall of man? Absolutely nothing. And so, yes, we ought to resolve such unfortunate fate that women has suffered. But how do we do that? The same way we treat all offshoot of our sinful nature – by submitting to the authority of the Word of God. It, then so means, feminism is not the answer, neither is liberalism. We cannot interpret the scriptures liberally, out of context, as a way of sensitizing the feminist agenda. We have to read and submit to the scriptures, as it has been presented to us doctrinally, in the context of the grand biblical narrative.

The two maxims of feminism, if one ought to put them in bullet points, we would have: a) boldness, and, b) insubordination. We often find, feminism to encourage women to be bold, to be outspoken. As the opinion goes, women shouldn’t be shush out quietly, women should speak out, to acquire a position in the spectrum of masculinity. If one looks at the scriptures, this first maxim draws an uncanny resemblance with the harlot of the Book of Proverbs. It says, “she is loud and stubborn” (Proverbs 7:11, KJV). Secondly, feminism encourages, insubordination to the biblical views, as being misogynistic. In other words, it encourages woman to betray sound doctrine. When we look at Proverbs again, we see a similar sense of unfaithfulness demonstrated by the harlot. It says, “Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. For the goodman is not at home” (Proverbs 7:18-19, KJV). Finally, when we club these two maxims of feminism, we get its generalized view; i.e. to manipulate men into granting women, an equal power position. The scripture’s response to this, comes as the final nail to the coffin. When Eve was cursed, God cursed her with the desire to rule over the man. The scripture says, “and you will desire to control over your husband” (Genesis 3:16, NLT). Picture the resemblance. Feminism is the modern manifestation of an ancient curse, laid down by God himself. Feminism is the woman’s counterpart of the original sin. But thankfully, God didn’t end His verdict there. Sin cannot reign supreme, under the sovereign governance of God. The sexes had to be returned to their intended position, although that will now come with a struggle. And so, God continued, and spoke “yet you will be subject to him” (Genesis 3:16, GNT).

Delicately Created:

Eve was God’s gift to Adam. She was a divine bestowal of grace-filled providence of God. Adam knew nothing about this. He didn’t asked for her, neither did God consulted him. He was given Eve, solely in accordance to the will and pleasure of God. And by the very nature of gifts, we know that it will be one of value. For no one gives their loved ones, gifts of meager worth. More so, Eve was a gift given by God – the giver of good gifts (James 1:17). How precious she must have been? We also learned that, Eve was made out of Adam, a refinement of humanity itself. Henry also wrote similarly, “all the grace and glory which the church has are from Christ, as Eve was taken out of the man13. In other words, if Adam was the glorious creation of God, Eve was double of such glory. To further elucidate, it would mean, Eve was the glory of man. She was his priced possession, a treasure of the most valuable worth. Henry further elucidates this point much clearer. He wrote, “man being made last of the creatures, as the best and most excellent of all, Eve’s being made after Adam, and out of him, puts an honour upon that sex, as the glory of the man. If man is the head, she is the crown, a crown to her husband, the crown of the visible creation. The man was dust refined, but the woman was dust double-refined, one remove further from the earth14. The scripture further attests this view, “but the woman is the glory of the man” (1 Corinthians 11:7, KJV).

Can anyone imagine how beautiful Eve must have been? MacArthur wrote, “Eve was the flawless archetype of feminine excellenceSince no other woman has ever come unfallen into a curse-free world, no other woman could possibly surpass Eve’s grace, charm, virtue, ingenuity, intelligence, wit, and pure innocence. Physically, too, she must have personified all the best traits of both strength and beauty15“.

But interestingly, MacArthur wrote, “Scripture, however, gives us no physical description of Eve. Her beauty – splendid as it must have been – is never mentioned or even alluded to16. This perhaps, revisits the teachings in the First Epistle to Peter, chapter three. And so, MacArthur further wrote, “the chief distinguishing traits of true feminine excellence are nothing superficial. Women who are obsessed with image, cosmetics, body shapes, and other external matters have a distorted view of femininity17. But more so, the reasons for the absence of physical description is to not dwarf the purpose with what, both genders were created. Similarly, MacArthur wrote, “The focus of the biblical account is on Eve’s duty to her Creator and her role alongside her husband18; which he further elucidates, “Adam created first; then Eve was made to fill a void in his existence. Adam was the head; Eve was his helper. Adam was designed to be a father, provider, protector, and leader. Eve was designed to be a mother, comforter, nurturer, and helper19.

One must note here, such assignment of complimentary roles does not nullifies equality. Man is equal to woman, and vice-versa, but not just in the feminist egalitarian perspective. To understand the biblical view of equality between man and woman, we need to understand the kind of equality shared between the Trinity. According to the Doctrine of Trinity, God the Father reigns supreme over the Son, and the Son, over the Holy Spirit; and yet, all are equal, as they are essentially one (Colossionas 2:9, Philippians 2:6, John 10:30, John 1:1-2, John 5:30, John 8:29). Similarly, although the man is called to be the head of the woman, and woman called to submit, and yet woman still, continues to be spiritually, and intellectually equal to man.

Feminist, although resent this kind of submission, as if the scripture calls woman to submit to a tyrant. Absolutely not. What one must note is that, the kind of submission woman is called to have with respect to man, the same kind of submission the man is called to have to Christ. Hence, as understood from the nature of trinity, it is a matter of mutual submission to the authority of Christ. Note Ephesians 1:22, it says, “… hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church” (KJV). MacArthur explains, “It doesn’t say here He’s the head of the church. It says He’s head over all things, and as head over all things was given to the church. It’s a powerful phrase in the original. He gave the One who was already head of the universe to the church to be her head20. Henry therefore wrote, “… neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord. They were made for one another. It is not good for him to be alone (Genesis 2:18), and therefore was a woman made, and made for the man; and the man was intended to be a comfort, and help, and defense, to the woman… They were made to be a mutual comfort and blessing, not one a slave and the other a tyrant. Both were to be one flesh (Genesis 2:24)”21 Let us not take God lightly, thinking He calls us to a life of submission without any forethought. God knows everything (Isaiah 46:9-10). And everything happens according to His plan (Ephesians 1:11).

We see, God’s such decisive nature, not just in the delicate creation of Eve, but also in the way Adam was prepared for Eve. God prepared the man, to whom the woman was to submit herself. Adam first learned of God (Genesis 2:7), then of the Garden (Genesis 1:29-30, 2:8), and its governance (Genesis 1:28). He was then tasked to name the species (Genesis 2:20). In other words, he was given a master class on relationship and leadership. Only then, Eve was presented to him as a gift, as his priced possession, as his glory, his crown (Genesis 2:18).

The creation account of Eve, according to MacArthur, gives us certain crucial truths.22 To paraphrase the points, these are: a) sound view of equality of the sexes, b) the reflection of divine marriage between Christ and Church, in the union of man and woman, and lastly, most importantly, c) the sound biblical account of the divinely-designated role of women.

The value according to which, the scriptures hold womenhood with much esteem, is not easily susceptible, unless viewed contextually from the account of creation. The modern age, on the hand, has the notorious characteristics of isolating its subject of study. Due to which, womenhood is often pin against its male counterpart in its study. Ironically, the contention they have of inequality, is often their initial point of investigation. But the scriptures treats, man and woman equally, and the union of both, with respect to Christ, under whom both remains subordinated. And under such authority, both man and woman are given, different, divinely-designated duties. Therefore, the creation account of womenhood, according to the scriptures, is not about, whether the women are superior or inferior to men. But it is about, what is just or justified in the eyes of God.

1John MacArthur, “Eve: Mother of all Living” in Twelve Extraordinary Women: How God Shaped Women of the Bible, and What He Wants to Do with You, (India, Grace to India, 2006), page 23








9John MacArthur, “Introduction” in Twelve Extraordinary Women: How God Shaped Women of the Bible, and What He Wants to Do with You, (India, Grace to India, 2006), page 21






15John MacArthur, “Eve: Mother of all Living” in Twelve Extraordinary Women: How God Shaped Women of the Bible, and What He Wants to Do with You, (India, Grace to India, 2006), page 24




19Ibid, page 28



22John MacArthur, “Eve: Mother of all Living” in Twelve Extraordinary Women: How God Shaped Women of the Bible, and What He Wants to Do with You, (India, Grace to India, 2006), page 27