Summary: How to Interpret Typologies, Metaphors and Prophecies
HOW TO INTERPRET TYPOLOGIES
1. Definition - A type is a pattern, image, or a symbol of a person, place, or thing. For example, Adam was a type of Christ, baptism corresponds to the deliverance experienced by Noah and his family in the flood. Joseph was a type of Christ, as the people looked to the staff that Moses held up and were delivered so are people saved when they look to Christ alone.
2. A type should show similarity to a quality, element, or meaning to something else. For example, Abraham’s offering of Isaac is a type of God offering up His son for our sins.
3. A type should bring out the rich meanings of God’s purpose in the historical context. The correspondence between the type-Joseph and the antitype-Christ will bring out added depth to the meaning of both people’s lives.
4. A type will sometimes be given direct explanation in other scripture. For example, Christ is said to be the creator in Hebrews 1:10-12. Also in Psa 102:25-27 we see Jehovah as the creator. This is a direct assertion that Christ is the creator.
5. Types can help us see Old Testament truths in New Testament thinking. For example, Paul uses Christ as redeemer both coming and going to Zion. This means that while the passage Paul quotes from in Isa 27:9 says, ``A redeemer comes out of Zion.’’ Paul uses it to tell the future, ``The redeemer will turn away ungodliness from Jacob.’’ Jesus will help Israel to be saved. Christ remains the same both in the O.T. & in the future. (Romans 11:26)
6. Types can be seen in quotations in the N.T. from the O.T.. For example, Paul contrasts believers and non-christians in 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1. He quotes from Isa. 52:11 when he says, ``Be separate and touch not the unclean thing.’’ He reflects the unclean idols, practices, marrying with pagan women, and the environment surrounding the Jewish nation. He parallels this to the Romans’ temptation to become involved with idolatry, lawlessness, the polluting influence of politics, and the conformity to the evil world.
7. Types can be seen in people. For example Solomon, David, and Melchizedek are seen as types of Christ. Melchizedek was the king of Salem, earlier named Jerusalem. He also gave bread and wine. He was a priest of God. He blessed Abraham on behalf of God. Abraham gave to him a tenth of what he owned. Then the writer of Hebrews said, ``You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’’ Psa. 110:4 & Heb. 7:11,17,21. The writer uses this type to compare and contrast the Levitical priesthood and the heavenly priesthood.
Illustration: Melchizedek is a type of Christ in the sense that he is a priest who is independent from all earthly dependencies. Christians should learn how to trust in God alone and we are freed from death’s sting.
8. A type can also show similarities in events. For example the calling of the Israelites out of Egypt is a type of the Christians’ deliverance from his old nature, environment, and dependencies. Matthew takes this from Hosea 11:1 and applies it to Jesus when he says, ``From Egypt I have called my son.’’ (Matt. 2:15) As Jesus was called out as an individual God is calling people out of their hardships, problems, and predicaments today.
9. Types can also be found in things. For example, as the temple was the central place of worship for the Jews so in the N.T. the temple is our body where the Holy Spirit dwells. I Cor. 3:16 says, that we are to worship the Lord with our bodies, our lives, and our actions. We are to treat our lives with respect worthy of God’s Spirit who is staking His reputation on us. 2 Cor. 6:16 says,
``I will dwell with them and will move and walk among them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. As the temple was a holy place so should our every thought, word, and deed reflect that holiness that lives in us.
10. Typology should play a supporting role to the main doctrines of scripture. Always look for the correlations involving the central themes of the O.T. and N.T..
11. Do not oversimplify or overcomplicate typologies. Be aware of the entire context of the immediate and greater context of scripture. For example, do not insist that the 12 plates on Aaron’s breastplate are the twelve tribal strategies to fight Satan since we are to take up the breastplate of righteousness in Ephesians 6. The priest was using these to intercede in prayer for these 12 tribes of Israel as his duty.
12. Types may contain symbols. For example, the tabernacle is often used to foreshadow N.T. truths. The tabernacle contained the water, the laven, the shewbread, and the Holy of Holies which can all be used a symbols to explain the redemptive ministries of Christ. We may enter into the Holy of holies directly through prayer in the power of the Holy Spirit.