Biblical Typology

Biblical Typology in Christian theology and Biblical exegesis is a doctrine or theory concerning the predictive relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament. Events, persons, or statements in the Old Testament are seen as types pre-figuring or superseded by anti-types, events, or aspects of Christ or his revelation described in the New Testament.

Typology is a method of biblical interpretation whereby an element found in the Old Testament is seen to prefigure one found in the New Testament. The initial one is called the type and the fulfillment is designated the anti-type. Either type or anti-type may be a person, thing, or event, but often the type is messianic and frequently related to the idea of salvation.

The “Typology” of the Old Testament is the “PICTURE LANGUAGE” in which the Doctrines of the New Testament, such as the Atonement, are prefigured. As an example, the “Brazen Serpent” is a type of the “Cross.” John 3:14-15.

For example, a person cannot understand Leviticus without Hebrews, Daniel without Revelation, Passover, or Isaiah 53 without the Gospel account of the Crucifixion.

For example, Paul uses typology in 1Co 10:1-11;

Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;[2] And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and the sea;[3] And did all eat the same spiritual meat;[4] And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.[5] But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.[6] Now these things were our examples {shadows/types}, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.[7] Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.[8] Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.[9] Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.[10] Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.[11] Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples {shadows/types}: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

Paul is speaking of Israel, and the “things” that happened to them from the time of their “Egyptian Bondage” until they reached the “Promise Land.” So, we see that while the Old Testament is a record of the History of Israel, the events of that “History” are “Types” of the “Plan of Salvation” as revealed in the New Testament and happened to Israel and were recorded in the Old Testament for our instruction.

In the fullest version of the theory of typology, the whole purpose of the Old Testament is viewed as merely the provision of types for Christ, the anti-type, or fulfillment. The theory began in the Early Church, was at its most influential in the High Middle Ages, and continued to be popular until the Protestant Reformation, but in recent times has been given less emphasis. The most notable exception to this is in the Eastern Orthodox Church, where typology is still a common and frequent exegetical tool, mainly due to that church’s great emphasis on continuity in doctrinal presentation through all historical periods

Jesus in Luke 24 speaks about how all of “Moses and Prophets” speak of the Messiah and in John 3:14 references how the “bronze” serpent was a type of the crucifixion. Jesus also speaks of true descendants of Abraham as spiritual (anti-type) and not physical (types). In other words, Biblical Typology is a tool to show the progression of God’s Plan (1 Cor 2:7-8) of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Typological interpretation is specifically the interpretation of the Old Testament based on the fundamental theological unity of the two Testaments whereby something in the Old Testament is a shadow of, prefigures, adumbrates something in the New Testament. Hence, what is interpreted in the Old is not foreign or peculiar, or hidden, but arises naturally out of the text due to the relationship between the two Testaments.

New Testament books use the Old Testament as a source of pictures pointing forward to Jesus. The many uses of “Types” and “Antitypes” are one of the many proofs of the Inspiration of the Scriptures. Their study of typology will prove beyond question that the Scriptures had but one Author-the HOLY SPIRIT and one message, Jesus and Him crucified!

Links More Information:

Understanding the Bible Bible Interpretation Hermeneutics

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