Friday, December 2, 2011

Biblical Typology

As I've been studying Hebrews again the past several weeks, I am amazed at the plethora of Old Testament typology. A type (Greek tupos) is a pattern, example, or mold, corresponding to an antitype (antitupos), the substance or reality. A good way to think of this is when someone casts a bronze figure. First they form a mold, which itself is empty, a relief. It sets the pattern for the true figure, but it lacks the substance. This is the type. When the bronze is poured into the mold or cast and solidifies into the statue or figure, this is the antitype, the substance.

In an almost uncountable number of ways, the Bible uses type-antitype relationships to describe the redemption and life of God's people. For example, Paul says of Adam that he was "a type of the one to come" (Rom. 5:14). He was a representative (federal) head over humanity, and his unrighteousness and curse fell upon all mankind (all who are "in Adam"). Likewise, Jesus is the antitype. By the obedience of the one man Jesus, many were made righteous, and blessing has come to all who are "in Christ" (Rom. 5:12-21).

Elsewhere we see that the tabernacle and the ministry of the Aaronic priests was merely a "pattern" or "copy" (tupos) of the "true things" (antitupos), the priestly service of Christ in the heavenly tent (Heb. 8:5; 9:24). The exodus and wandering of Israel in the desert served as "examples" (tupoi) (1 Cor. 10:6, 11). The flood at the time of Noah was symbolic of Christian baptism, which is now the anticipated antitupos (1 Pet. 3:21).

All that is to say, you really ought to read this article, "The Exodus and the People of God" by James T. Dennison, Jr. It is simply fascinating to see the parallels between the Israel of the Old Testament and the Israel of the New Testament. The more I read about these parallels, the more I see what's going on in the mind of the New Testament's authors, and the weight of what is going on sinks in. Soak this stuff in. Immerse yourself in it.

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