Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Friday, November 12, 2010


The Holy Book of John the seventh chapter. I believe you did not spend enough time with this chapter with the importance it has in lives of individuals.

Chapters 7 verses 1 - 25 are looked at as a jumbled mess of miscellaneous materials. There is no discourse of any length but this does not mean there is no structure or purpose to the chapter.

Verse 1 – 7 is the introduction

We start the chapter in Galilee where the 5000 are fed and the theme of the Bread of Life is born. Just like the previous chapters we are going to have a major change in scenery. Jesus is to return to Jerusalem and not return to Galilee until the 21 chapter of John. This chapter is where we find the true identity of Jesus. It allows us to know to whom we believe.

Verse 11-13 The Feast of the Tabernacles.

Jesus returns to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Tabernacles. Upon the arrival of the followers, Jesus was not present.

The Feast of the Tabernacles was one of the three major feasts of the Old Testament. It takes place at the end of September and the beginning of October. Every Jewish male in a twenty-mile radius of Jerusalem was required to attend. Jews from the Middle East and Mediterranean basin came to Jerusalem for he Feast of Tabernacles because they could travel safely during the summer months. This was one of their favorite festivals. The festival was also known as the Feast of Booths, and Fest of Ingathering.

Feast of the Ingathering.
They celebrated the successful conclusion to the harvest season. The harvest season in the region begins in May and continues through September with one crop after another being harvested.

Feast of Booths or Tabernacles.
This feast celebrated God’s presence while they wandered in the desert before they had any harvests. During this feast time the Jews stayed in tents or shacks made of sticks and leaves. The name Tabernacles and Booths derive their name from these little shacks. This was to remind them of the forty years they spent in the wilderness.

This was a festival of a holy convocation; a sacred assembly and they were to do no work. The Mishnal indicates the interestamental period there were two other major rituals celebrated with the Feast of Tabernacles. A large bowl of water was taken up to the alter and poured out, and there was also a special ceremony involving the lighting of the Court of the Women.

Verse 14 – 24 Jesus and the Law of Moses.

Without warning in the middle of the feast Jesus appeared in the temple and began teaching. In that period the boys were taught to read and then memorize the Law. Training for the rabbis consisted of learning the oral tradition that Jews believed to have been delivered to Moses and passed along orally through the centuries.

When Jesus began teaching the quality of his teachings astonished the Jews because they knew he had no formal training in rabbinic disputation. They question him “How does this fellow know legal matters when he has not learned”. Jesus’ reply makes perfect sense in a Jewish context. “I have not made up my teaching. It is the teaching of the Rabbi-teacher whom I represent.” Whom of coarse is the Father.

“If anyone is willing to do his will, he will know concerning the teaching – whether it is of God or whether I speak from myself.” Thus doing the will of God is doing everything that Jesus did. The person who speaks out of his or her own authority and self is seeking his or her own glory. The person who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is true and there is no unrighteousness in him. Jesus makes a pointed attack on the Jewish rabbis who saw their ministry as an opportunity to build their own fame.

God-centeredness instead of self-centeredness is our only hope for maintaining credibility in the world. The fall of media preachers in recent years provides negative evidence of this truth.

This really angered the Jews and Jesus reminded them that they know the law but none of them obeys the Law. In the Greek it is emphatic – NOT EVEN ONE. This may explain why they were trying to kill Jesus.

Jesus then takes issue of healing the man at the pool (John 5: 21-24). Jesus defended his healing of the man as the will of God. His argument was an excellent example of Jewish method of argument. A lesser matter to a greater matter (fortiori argument) is the greater argument.

The Jews circumcise a baby boy on the Sabbath to fulfill the will of God. They broke the Sabbath to cut away a small part of a person. To heal a whole person would be even a greater fulfillment of the will of God even on the Sabbath.

Dr. William Stilwater, PhD


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