Ecclesiastes 4:9
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.
Friendship a Gain in LifeJ. Willcock Ecclesiastes 4:7-12
Mutual ServiceW. Clarkson Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
The Advantages of FellowshipD. Thomas Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
The Necessity and Benefits of Religious SocietyEcclesiastes 4:9-12
Two Better than OneC. R. Barnes.Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

There is a sense in which we have no choice but to be members of society. We are born into a social life, trained in it, and in it we must live. "None of us liveth unto himself." But there is a sense in which it rests with us to cultivate fellowship with our kind. And such voluntary association, we are taught in this passage, is productive of the highest benefits.

I. FELLOWSHIP MAKES LABOR EFFECTIVE. "Two have a good reward for their labor." If this was so in the day of the writer of Ecclesiastes, how much more strikingly and obviously is it so today! Division of labor and co-operation in labor are the two great principles which account for the success of industrial enterprise in our own time. There is scope for such united efforts in the Church of Christ - for unity and brotherly kindness, for mutual help, consideration, and endeavor.

II. FELLOWSHIP PROVIDES SUCCOR IN CALAMITY. When two are together, he who falls may be lifted up, when if alone he might be left to perish. This is a commonplace truth with reference to travelers in a strange land, with reference to comrades in war, etc. Our Lord Jesus sent forth his apostles two and. two, that one might supply his neighbor's deficiencies; that the healthy might uphold the sick; and the brave might cheer the timid. The history of Christ's Church is a long record of mutual succor and consolation. To raise the fallen, to cherish the weakly, to relieve the needy, to assist the widow and fatherless, - this is true religion. Here is the sphere for the manifestation of Christian fellowship.

III. FELLOWSHIP IS PROMOTIVE OF COMFORT, WELL-BEING, AND HAPPINESS. "How can one be warm alone?" asks the Preacher. Every household, every congregation, every Christian society, is a proof that there is a spirit of mutual dependence wherever the will of the great Father and Savior of mankind is honored and obeyed. The more there is of brotherly love within the Church, the more effective will be the Church's work of benevolence and missionary aggression upon the ignorance and sin of the world.

IV. FELLOWSHIP IMPARTS STRENGTH, STABILITY, AND POWER OF RESISTANCE. TWO, placing themselves shoulder to shoulder, can withstand an onset before which one alone would fall. "The threefold cord is not quickly broken." It must be remembered that the work of religious men in this world is no child's play; there are forces of evil toresist, there is a warfare to be maintained. And in order to succeed, two things are needful: first, dependence upon God; and secondly, brotherhood with our comrades and fellow-soldiers in the holy war. - T.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labour.
I. PROVE THE TRUTH OF THE WISE MAN'S ASSERTION, that, "two are better than one, and that in reference to society in general, and religious societies in particular." And how can this be done better than by showing that it is absolutely necessary for the welfare both of the bodies and souls of men? Indeed, if we look upon man as he came out of the hands of his Maker, we imagine him to be perfect, entire, lacking nothing. But God, whose thoughts are not as our thoughts, saw something still wanting to make Adam happy. And what was that? Why, an help meet for him. And if this were the case of man before the fall; if a help was meet for him in a state of perfection; surely since the fall, when we come naked and helpless out of our mother's womb, when our wants increase with our years, and we can scarcely subsist a day without the mutual assistance of each other, well may we say, "It is not good for man to be alone." Society, then, we see, is absolutely necessary in respect to our bodily and personal wants. If we carry our view farther, and consider mankind as divided into different cities, countries, and nations, the necessity of it will appear yet more evident. For how can communities be kept up, or commerce carried on, with our society? Many other instances might be given of the necessity of society in reference to our bodily, personal, and national wants. But what are all these when weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, in comparison of the infinite greater need of it with respect to the soul? Let us suppose ourselves in some degree to have tasted the good word of life, and to have felt the powers of the world to come, influencing and moulding our souls into a religious frame; to be fully and heartily convinced that we are soldiers listed under the banner of Christ, and to have proclaimed open war, at our baptism, against the world, the flesh, and the devil; and have, perhaps, frequently renewed our obligations so to do by partaking of the Lord's Supper; that we are surrounded with millions of foes without, and infested with a legion of enemies within; that we are commanded to shine as lights in the world in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; that we are travelling to a long eternity, and need all imaginable helps to show, and encourage us in, our way thither. Let us, I say, reflect on all this, and then how shall each of us cry out, "Brethren, what a necessary thing it is to meet together in religious societies!" The primitive Christians were fully sensible of this, and therefore we find them continually keeping up communion with each other (Acts 2:42; Acts 4:23; Acts 9:19; Acts 12:12). And it is reported of the Christians in after ages that they used to assemble together before daylight to sing a psalm to Christ as God. So precious was the communion of saints in those days.


1. As man in his present condition cannot always stand upright, but by reason of the frailty of his nature cannot but fall; one eminent reason why two are better than one, or, in other words, one great advantage of religious society is, "that when they fall, the one will lift up his fellow."

2. It is an observation no less true than common, that kindled coals if placed asunder soon go out, but if heaped together quicken and enliven each other, and afford a lasting heat. The same will hold good in the case now before us. If Christians kindled by the grace of God unite, they will quicken and enliven each other; but if they separate and keep asunder, no marvel if they soon grow cool or tepid. If two or three meet together in Christ's name, they will have heat: but how can one be warm alone?

3. Hitherto we have considered the advantages of religious societies as a great preservative against falling into sin and lukewarmness, and that too from our own corruptions. But what says the wise son of Sirach? "My son, when thou goest to serve the Lord, prepare thy soul for temptation;" and that not only from inward, but outward foes; particularly from those two grand adversaries, the world and the devil: for no sooner will thine eye be bent heavenward, but the former will be immediately diverting it another way, telling thee thou needest not be singular in order to be religious; that you may be a Christian without going so much out of the common road. But see here the advantage of religious company; for supposing thou findest thyself thus surrounded on every side, and unable to withstand such horrid (though seemingly friendly) counsels, haste away to thy companions, and they will teach thee a truer and better lesson; they will tell thee that thou must be singular if thou wilt be religious; and that it is as impossible for a Christian, as for a city set upon a hill, to be hidden: that if thou wilt be an almost Christian (and as good be none at all) thou mayest live in the same idle, indifferent manner as thou seest most other people do; but if thou wilt be not only almost, but altogether a Christian, they will inform thee thou must go a great deal farther: that thou must not only faintly seek, but "earnestly strive to enter in at the strait gate": that there is but one way now to heaven, as formerly, even through the narrow passage of a sound conversion: and that in order to bring about this mighty work, thou must undergo a constant but necessary discipline of fasting, watching, and prayer. And, therefore, the only reason why those friends give thee such advice is, because they are not willing to take so much pains themselves; or, as our Saviour told Peter on a like occasion, because they savour not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.


1. Mutual reproof.

2. Mutual exhortation.

3. Mutual assisting and defending each other.

( G. Whitefield, M. A.)

An axiom like this needs no discussion. No man is at his best alone. Some powers are dormant and practically useless to the individual. Competition is one form of stimulus. It may act through our selfishness. We desire to surpass another, to do better or acquire more and so meet oppositions and antagonisms with resoluteness. As iron sharpeneth iron, so intellects may be whetted and made keener by mental attrition. The axe does not sharpen itself on itself, but by a stone. So are human minds improved by these emulative endeavours. But love is a better discipline than competition. It is akin to the regenerative power of God. Two friends walk in loving unity and fellowship. They aim to enlarge their faculties of observation. The two see more objects than one pair of eyes could possibly see, perhaps threefold or tenfold, for in the friendly effort, each to excel, their individual faculties are more vigilant than if each were alone. In church life these principles of development constantly obtain. Some come to the place of worship and instruction with the true hunger of the soul. They not only help the preacher, who may represent the original unit by their added sympathy, but enlarge their own spiritual appreciation of truth. Failure to co-operate in church work is crippling. It is like putting the minus sign before a quantity. You cripple not only a finger by removing a joint, but embarrass the whole hand. The entire grip is gone for ever. Paralyze the little muscles that play over a pulley moving the eyelid and the lid drops over the eye. So the weakest member of a church may help or hinder the integrity and efficiency of the whole body of Christ. As indifference is deadening and disheartening, whether in religious or political enterprise, when people are slack, dubious and apathetic, so co-operation stimulates and the heart of the toiler rises with courage and hope. It may be objected that one loses his individuality. But no one is strictly independent. Material forces are adjusted to each other, as the centripetal and centrifugal, day and night, attraction and repulsion, muscular flexion and extension. Souls have their orbits as well as planets. These may be contracted or enlarged according to the influences exerted. No man liveth to himself or is independent of shrinking or quickening influences. If you come statedly and devoutedly to the sanctuary, you secure a blessing to yourself and you help God to convert men. So, too, in the last place, in Christian companionship, two are better than one. For if one fall by the way the other may lift him to his feet. Thus the crosses and losses of life become more tolerable, and the unity and harmony of earthly fellowship become prophetic of the unbroken and perfected felicities of heaven.

(C. R. Barnes.)

Better, Labor, Labour, Return, Reward, Toil
1. vanity is increased unto men by oppression
4. by envy
5. by idleness
7. by covetousness
9. by solitariness
13. by willfulness

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

     5689   friendlessness
     5691   friends, good
     5734   relationships
     5895   intimacy
     7924   fellowship, in service
     8224   dependence

The Order of Thought which Surrounded the Development of Jesus.
As the cooled earth no longer permits us to understand the phenomena of primitive creation, because the fire which penetrated it is extinct, so deliberate explanations have always appeared somewhat insufficient when applying our timid methods of induction to the revolutions of the creative epochs which have decided the fate of humanity. Jesus lived at one of those times when the game of public life is freely played, and when the stake of human activity is increased a hundredfold. Every great part,
Ernest Renan—The Life of Jesus

In making the following thread to the rich literature on Constantine the plan has been to confine almost wholly to Monographs, since to refer to all histories, encyclopædias, and the like which treat of him would be endless. Only such few analyzed references are introduced as have special reasons. Even with this limit it cannot be at all hoped that the list is exhaustive. Considerable pains has been taken, however, to make it full, as there is no really extended modern list of works on Constantine,
Eusebius Pamphilius—The Life of Constantine

And for Your Fearlessness against them Hold this Sure Sign -- Whenever There Is...
43. And for your fearlessness against them hold this sure sign--whenever there is any apparition, be not prostrate with fear, but whatsoever it be, first boldly ask, Who art thou? And from whence comest thou? And if it should be a vision of holy ones they will assure you, and change your fear into joy. But if the vision should be from the devil, immediately it becomes feeble, beholding your firm purpose of mind. For merely to ask, Who art thou [1083] ? and whence comest thou? is a proof of coolness.
Athanasius—Select Works and Letters or Athanasius

The Upbringing of Jewish Children
The tenderness of the bond which united Jewish parents to their children appears even in the multiplicity and pictorialness of the expressions by which the various stages of child-life are designated in the Hebrew. Besides such general words as "ben" and "bath"--"son" and "daughter"--we find no fewer than nine different terms, each depicting a fresh stage of life. The first of these simply designates the babe as the newly--"born"--the "jeled," or, in the feminine, "jaldah"--as in Exodus 2:3, 6, 8.
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life

Letter xxxvi (Circa A. D. 1131) to the Same Hildebert, who had not yet Acknowledged the Lord Innocent as Pope.
To the Same Hildebert, Who Had Not Yet Acknowledged the Lord Innocent as Pope. He exhorts him to recognise Innocent, now an exile in France, owing to the schism of Peter Leonis, as the rightful Pontiff. To the great prelate, most exalted in renown, Hildebert, by the grace of God Archbishop of Tours, Bernard, called Abbot of Clairvaux, sends greeting, and prays that he may walk in the Spirit, and spiritually discern all things. 1. To address you in the words of the prophet, Consolation is hid from
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux

Scriptures Showing the Sin and Danger of Joining with Wicked and Ungodly Men.
Scriptures Showing The Sin And Danger Of Joining With Wicked And Ungodly Men. When the Lord is punishing such a people against whom he hath a controversy, and a notable controversy, every one that is found shall be thrust through: and every one joined with them shall fall, Isa. xiii. 15. They partake in their judgment, not only because in a common calamity all shares, (as in Ezek. xxi. 3.) but chiefly because joined with and partakers with these whom God is pursuing; even as the strangers that join
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

It is not surprising that the book of Ecclesiastes had a struggle to maintain its place in the canon, and it was probably only its reputed Solomonic authorship and the last two verses of the book that permanently secured its position at the synod of Jamnia in 90 A.D. The Jewish scholars of the first century A.D. were struck by the manner in which it contradicted itself: e.g., "I praised the dead more than the living," iv. 2, "A living dog is better than a dead lion," ix. 4; but they were still more
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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