I wish to enlist your assistance. A Protestant friend of mine and I were discussing prayers to Mary and the Saints. He countered with Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 (KJV)
“For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. As well their love, as their hatred and their envy, is perished long ago; neither have they any more a portion for ever in anything that is done under the sun”
He also sent me an article:
Do the Dead Observe Earth’s Activities?
by Wayne Jackson
Christian Courier: Questions
Tuesday, June 25, 2002
…Where Is the Evidence?
There is no biblical information with which I am familiar that would provide any support for the idea that those in the realm of the dead are able to view the activities of people who now dwell upon the earth. To affirm otherwise calls for evidence. If there is such evidence, I have not seen it. The fact is, there appears to be a direct denial of this theory in the book of Ecclesiastes.
We cannot, at this time, discuss the technical intricacies associated with the book of Ecclesiastes, e.g., authorship and literary structure – nor even the larger context in which the following passage is found. It must suffice at this point simply to say that this sacred book involves an exploration into the meaning of human existence, and what pursuits will, or will not, lead to that level of happiness the Creator intended that we ideally should enjoy. With that said, here is the passage we wish to explore.
“For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. As well their love, as their hatred and their envy, is perished long ago; neither have they any more a portion for ever in anything that is done under the sun” (9:5-6).
In this context the writer illustrates the futility of focusing one’s attention primarily upon the things of this earth. There are several reasons cited:
Earthly life will end eventually. Death stalks us all, and we are confronted with this morbid reality daily.
Once a person dies, his ties with earthly environments are severed. He has no awareness of the happenings transpiring upon this planet. He has no further earthly rewards to be received, because he has been removed from this realm, and, in fact, even the memory of him, as a general rule, will eventually fade.
Former earthly associations – good or bad – are interrupted by death. The deceased person is removed forever from activity “under the sun.” This expression, used twenty-nine times in the book of Ecclesiastes, refers to earth’s domain.
In this passage we focus our attention especially upon the affirmation that “the dead know not anything … under the sun.” It is not that they are unconscious in their current spirit state (as materialists allege); rather, they are estranged from the experiences of this environment. Note what several scholars have said regarding this text.
Adam Clarke noted that the dead are cut off from this present realm; they “know nothing of what passes under the sun” (Commentary on the Bible, III, p. 829).
Another writer says that this text affirms that the dead “know not anything … so far as their bodily senses and worldly affairs are concerned” (Jamieson, Faussett & Brown, Bible Commentary, Zondervan, 1961, p. 484).
W.J. Deane observed that “what passes on earth affects them [the dead] not; the knowledge of it reaches them no longer” (Pulpit Commentary, Eerdman, 1950, Vol. 9, p. 226).
Matthew Henry commented that “[w]hen life is gone, all this world is gone with it, as to us … [t]here is an end of all our acquaintance with it, and the things of it. It does not appear that the dead know any thing of what is done by those they left behind” (Comprehensive Commentary, Brattleboro Co., 1845, Vol. III, p. 267).
All of the evidence gathered, therefore, leads to one conclusion. When a person dies, his earthly activity ceases (no reincarnation here), and any active knowledge of earth’s realm is veiled from his vision. This fact highlights the folly of attempting to pray to the dead – as practiced in some religious movements (e.g. in Catholicism’s “prayers to the saints”).
I sent him the CA tract “Praying to the Saints”; however, it does not address the Ecclesiastes verse.
Do you guys/gals mind weighing in to assist?