Page 39 - Education Programs
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                                                Author Unknown

                                              Grand Lodge of Texas: December 2001

The three degrees of Freemasonry symbolically represent the three stages of life: youth, manhood,
and old age. The lodge symbolizes the world as a whole with the Entered Apprentice representing
the youth entering the world and the Master Mason about to leave it. The Fellowcraft represents
manhood, the period in which a man is in the prime of his life prepared to face the trials and
tribulations of the world, and equipped to do its work.

The work of the world is indeed the greatest endeavor of human life. Human progress is not carried
forward by the ignorant or the unskilled as life is complex. Human progress rests on the shoulders
of those who have knowledge, skill, and experience. This is the principal idea behind the
Fellowcraft Degree. It is a drama of education, the philosophy of enlightenment. The Degree is
wise in its teachings and profound in its truths.

As now practiced in Freemasonry, the lessons of the three degrees are built upon the Biblical
description of King Solomon’s Temple constructed in Jerusalem as a monument to the God of the
Israelites. The building of this edifice is described in I Kings Chapters 5 through 7, while Chapter
8 describes the dedication of the Temple. A careful reading of these passages provides insight into
the three degrees.

The great pillars that figure so prominently in the ceremonies of the Fellowcraft Degree are
reminiscent of the two pillars that stood in front of King Solomon’s Temple, not to support its roof
but as symbolic reminders of the truths and forces in government and religion. While there have
been many contradictions regarding the introduction of the pillars into the Masonic system, they
are now universally recognized as part of the Fellowcraft Degree.

The terminology is confusing in the way pillar and column are used almost interchangeable in
Masonic writings while each term has a distinct meaning. A pillar is a firm upright support for a
superstructure such as an upper wall, floor, roof or arch. A pillar can be of any proportions
necessary to perform the needed mechanical function of support. A pillar can also be a freestanding
shaft that serves as a monument. A column is an architectural feature that is composed of a base,
shaft, and capital that has definite geometric proportions and is designed to support as well as to
adorn the building. Thus, both pillars and columns are primarily structural supports, the difference
being that a column is an architectural feature designed to be functional while beautifying the

The Biblical account of the pillars of King Solomon’s Temple is contained in I Kings 7: 13-22,
where the writer describes the work of Hiram, a skilled metal worker, in creating the pillars. In
addition to this account, Flavius Josephus, a first century Jewish historian, provides the following

         Now Solomon sent for an artificer out of Tyre, whose name was Hiram. He was by birth
of the tribe of Naphtali, on the mother’s side (for she was of that tribe), but his father was Ur, of
the stock of the Israelites. This man was skillful in all sorts of work; but his chief skill lay in
working in gold, and silver, and brass, by whom were made all the mechanical works about the

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