"There is no remembrance of former things,
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things yet to be
among those who come after. Ecclesiastes 1:11 (ESV)
This verse, taken in context, seems to be speaking generationally. Just as you and I know nothing of the situation, personalities, or daily life of our ancestors from thousands of years ago, so (if the Lord delays his return) our generations hence will know (and care) little about our current lives. We have no memory of the former things, and the latter things will have no memory of us. This does not mean we know nothing of former things, only that the majority has been forgotten. Just as “nothing new under the sun” is to be taken conceptually and experientially rather than technically (i.e. love, laughter, and pain have been mutually experienced among all generations – technological innovations do not change the essence of life) so are “former” and “latter” not to be understood from the narrow perspective of one person’s experience of different stages of life but from the stance of humanity as a whole.
The text does not support an interpretation that Ecclesiastes 1:11 is speaking of any sort of after-life.
Julia (Stager) Mayo holds a Master of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies from Western Seminary. She was previously part of the Eternal Perspective Ministries staff, and still does occasional research work for Randy Alcorn.