Types, Anti-Types and Symbols of the Bible
Type: “A divinely purposed, Old Testament fore-shadowing of a New Testament spiritual reality”
Typology is the study of Biblical comparisons made between persons, events, things and institutions of one biblical period and those of another, most often between the OT and the NT In which an element found in the OT prefigures one found in the NT.
The initial one is called the type and the fulfillment is designated the antitype
Either type or antitype may be a person, thing, or event, but often the type is Messianic and frequently refers to salvation or the work of the atonement.
Example: The type, the Passover Lamb in Exodus 12:3, 4, 5 provided redemption by his blood corresponds with the antitype, “Christ our Passover” (1Co 5:7), by whose blood we have been redeemed (1Pe 1:18, 19).
Symbols: An element which points to a resembling symbol, object or ideal. It has no reference to time and not necessarily pointing to Christ or the Atonement.
Examples of Symbols
Rainbow – the fulfilled wrath Salt – preserving power dove — peace or new life Horn – strength and power
Elements of a Symbol:
The name of the symbol is to be understood naturally or often literally
The symbols points to something essentially different from itself
The is some resemblance between the symbol that that which it points too
Interpretation should be kept with historical, natural and justifiable means within the scope of scripture
Symbols are the difficult thing to interpret in a biblical sense. Much of the Tabernacle and temple are symbolic images and their must be a justification of there meaning or we very quickly fall into allegory or spiritualizing scripture.
Elements of a Type:
• Their must be some obvious point of resemblance or analogy between the two
• Their must be some evidence that the type was designed and appointed by God to represent
• The type must prefigure something of the future
Classification of Types:
(1) Personal types, by which are meant those personages of Scripture whose lives and experiences illustrate some principle or truth of redemption. Such are Adam, who is expressly described as the “figure of him that was to come” (Ro 5:14-note), Melchizedek, Abraham, Aaron, Joseph, Jonah, etc.
(2) Historical types, in which are included the great historical events that under Providence became striking foreshadowings of good things to come, e.g., the Deliverance from the Bondage of Egypt; the Wilderness Journey; the Conquest of Canaan; the Call of Abraham; Deliverances by the Judges, etc.
(3) Ritual types, such as the Altar, the Offerings, the Priesthood, the Tabernacle and its furniture. There are typical persons, places, times, things, actions, in the Old Testament, and a reverent study of them leads into a thorough acquaintance with the fullness and the blessedness of the Word of God (Ed note: Amen!)
4) Typical Events, such as the flood, sojourn in the wilderness, provision of manna, Moses lifting up the brazen serpent. , etc.
Principles of Interpretation of Types
These principles that we apply people will also apply to typical events, objects, institutions, and ceremonies as well.
(1) Firstly, it should always be remembered that a type must be a divine designation.
“Only God can make types.” Adam is specifically said to be a type of Christ in Romans 5:14; in the second instance, Christ is referred to by the name Passover in 1Corinthians 5:7; in the third instance, Joseph may be considered a type of Christ though Scripture nowhere calls him such, because there is an evident analogy between his life and Christ’s earthly life.
(2) Secondly, we need to recognize the historical place and purpose of the event, before typical elements are presented.
(3) Thirdly, it should be observed that a type presents a general though genuine resemblance of its antitype. By their very nature types are only signs and shadows, consequently details should not generally be pressed for typical meaning.
The Book of Hebrews assumes that the priests of the Old Testament prefigured Jesus Christ in His priestly work, but it is quick to point out that this did not include every phase of the priestly ministry.
(Hebrews 7:26-27)“For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.”