Typology Research paper for Old Testament Survey


Daniel Grove

Old Testament Survey

Institute for the Arts

Dec 1st 2009




  • Qualifications for a Type
  • Types and Prophecies


  • Greek Vocabulary
  • Prophetic Types and Personal Examples
  • Types point to something Greater
  • Parables and Types



  • Jesus is the Focus
  • Typical Characters


  • Everything works for Good


  • Lessons from The Flood
  • Lessons from The Passover
  • Lessons from Sodom and Gomorrah




If you have read a moderate amount of the Bible it is hard to overlook Gods direct involvement with man throughout history. Not only has He been involved in history but He has been sovereign as well. One way that we can see Gods overall sovereignty exercised is that He has upheld a line from Adam to David, and from David to Jesus through both parents. So what does this have to do with types and shadows? God has revealed His future plans through types and shadows prophetically in His Word. His sovereignty is demonstrated in that one significant event under the old covenant can foreshadow an even greater event in the new covenant. The Old Testament is saturated with examples of Christ, the rapture, the church, salvation, and the Holy Spirit. These types show that God has planned things from the beginning and we get the pleasure of seeing them worked out. The Greek word for “type” itself means an example of something real or the imprint left from an impression. The believers in the times before Christ did not know these things to be symbolic as we do now, because to them those typological things were actual events. As we dive deeper into the study of types we discover the beauty of Gods plan, sovereignty, His creativity, and foreknowledge.


There is only a hand full of acknowledged types in the New Testament but it would be foolish to say that those written by the New Testament authors are the only true types that we can study or see as valid. Some of the written types in the New Testament include Noah’s flood symbolizing water baptism written of by Peter (1 Pet 3:20-21), the Passover Lambs blood symbolizing Jesus blood written by Paul (1Cor 5:7), and Jesus doing the finalizing work as our high priest in Hebrews (Heb 9:11-14). But surely there are other symbols in the scriptures that can edify and educate us on the things of God that are not exclusively recorded in the New Testament. These symbols may be things such as Joseph’s life being a parallel to the life of Jesus, the construction of the temple being symbolic of messianic truths, and as Isaacs trek up Mt. Mariah foreshadowing Christ’s ascent to His death on the cross.

Qualifications for a Type

So what constitutes for a genuine type? Well there are some general guidelines that can help to keep us on track. First, the suspected type must have a purpose and be edifying to the believer instead of just being mere intellectual knowledge. Second, the historical base of which the type comes from should be founded upon scripture as should the conclusive event. Third, they are prophetic in nature and so they should hold some spiritual meaning that crosses a bridge between the Old and New covenants. Most if not all types are aimed at Christ who is the conclusion of the Old Covenant and the author of the New.

Types and Prophecies

We need to able to draw a line between what is a prophecy about Christ and what is a type of Christ. A prophecy is a spoken word by a prophet or one who prophecies that tells of something to come whether it be a blessing, a curse, judgment, or the Messiah. An example of a prophecy of Christ is in Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.” However a type is a person, place, event, practice, or thing that unintentionally imitated something to come (usually of Christ). For example when Moses brought the Israelites out of Egypt through the desert and to the Promised Land he was not only doing Gods will but also, inadvertently, being an active type of Christ.


As you may have already read there are many words that have to do with this subject of types. These words include “example”, “copies”, “shadow”, “symbol”, and “figure” but let us not get caught up with English words but rather the truth and concepts behind each example and what they point to.

Listed below are the Greek words that have to do with types in the New Testament, along with their Strong’s number, the English words it has been translated in to in the KJV, how many times it appears as each English word and their description.

Greek Vocabulary

Typos 5179 – ensample 5, print 2, figure 2, example 2, pattern 2, fashion 1, manner 1, form 1

The mark of a stroke or blow, a figure formed by a blow or impression, an example to be imitated, a thing or person prefiguring a future (Messianic) thing or person.

Skia 4639 – shadow 7

Shade caused by the interception of light, an image cast by an object and representing the form of that object.

Hypodeigma 5262 – example 4, pattern 1, ensample 1

An example: for imitation, a figure, a copy.

Parbole 3850 – parable 46, figure 2, comparison 1, proverb 1

A comparing, comparison of one thing with another, likeness, similitude, an example by which a doctrine or precept is illustrated.

Antitypos 499 – figure 1, like figure whereinto 1

A thing formed after some pattern, a thing resembling another, its counterpart, something Messianic which answers to the type.

Prophetic Types and Personal Examples

It is important to understand that not all scriptures that use these words are referring to an actual spiritual type, but often a moral example. One of these cases is in 1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” Now obviously there is no spiritual parallel or symbolism taking place but a literal example in which people should follow after. A similar scripture is found in Philippians 3:17 “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.” Paul was speaking of walking with right doctrine and righteousness and to follow after their pastors and apostles such as himself.

The interesting thing is that in both of these scriptures the Greek word typos is used yet they do not refer to anything prophetic in nature. Now we also see this word Typos used in scriptures that certainly do contain spiritual and Messianic types such as Romans 5:14 referring to death that reigned from Adam being like the righteousness that reigned from Christ.

Types point to something Greater

In Hebrews 8:4-5 we see an excellent description which considers all of the law to be a “copy and shadow” of “heavenly things”.

Hebrews 8:4-5  For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See [that] you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”

The first half of verse 4 is speaking of Jesus but then it changes subject to talk about the human priests under the law and basically spells it out in plain view; if you are abiding by the law you are serving the copies and shadows of heavenly things. What are the copies? And what are they pointing to? Nearly every aspect of the Law of Moses contains some foreshadowing of the work of Christ, the Holy Spirit or of the believer.

These are considered heavenly things because at the time when they were given they had not taken place, they were yet to be established by God on Earth. So now that the things of Christ have been established we see a deeper meaning underneath the old Law which God gave to Moses and these are prophetic types.

The slaughtered animals did not truly or spiritually buy forgiveness for the sinner, nor did the offerings fully satisfy God as we see in Hosea 6:6 “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” And again in Hebrews we see the inability of the Law exposed as well as it’s symbolic nature Hebrews 10:1 “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.”

Parables and Types

Another division we must recognize is between parables and types. A true type has actual historical ground behind it, or in other words it really happened AND it means something deeper at the same time. However, parables are different; they are fictional stories that are illustrated so that the speaker can get a point across.

Jesus taught largely by using parables such as the farmer dropping seed along the road, the 10 virgins with lamps, and the prodigal son. Although there is no doubt that any of these stories could have actually happened at the time (this is the power in them), that is not the point – the point is to illustrate a spiritual concept in a relevant way to your audience.  The difference from parables and types is this; types piggy back on history while parables are fictional stories to teach a point.


However there is still a lot of room for error when dealing with types, shadows, and prophetic symbols. One extreme is to think every little detail is symbolic to the point of inventing your own revelations and meanings; another is to just take the Old Testament histories as mere record and miss the prophetic pictures they paint. Still a third group commits an even worse atrocity by taking historical records and events in the Old Testament and looking at them as purely symbolic and figurative while denying that the actual event even happened. We must find a reasonable balance between the literal and the symbolic that is scriptural on both ends, is led by the Holy Spirit and has a believable and edifying application in the believer’s life. So it is not frivolous to study such things, we can learn a great deal from studying these examples and shadows of things that are now manifested.

Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.

(1 Corinthians 10:6)

As Charles Larkin writes in his book Dispensational Truth:

Of “whom” and of what “things” is the Apostle speaking? Of the Children of Israel, and the “things” that happened to them from the time of their “Egyptian Bondage” until they reached the “Land of Promise.” So we see that while the Old Testament is a record of the History of the Children of Israel, the events of that “History” are more than mere events; they are “TYPICAL” of the “Plan of Salvation” as revealed in the New Testament, and are neither “mythical” nor “allegorical, ” but really happened to Israel and were recorded for our instruction. (Larkin, CH. XXVIII)


The essence of a type can be summed up as being a prophetic picture embodied in actual history. And what is the most important prophetic message of all but that of the Messiah. Contrary to some peoples thoughts the Old Testament was not an “oops” from Gods, the Law was not a mistake or a failure on Gods part, it was made to point to Jesus. We can see how the law points to Jesus through the many types of Himself that are recorded in the Law of Moses.

Jesus is the Focus

Jesus Christ is the focal point of the majority of the Old Testament, we see this in Luke:

And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself…

(Luke 24:27)

…Then He said to them, “These [are] the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and [the] Prophets and [the] Psalms concerning Me.”

(Luke 25:44)

We see that Jesus was able to explain how the Old Covenant pointed towards Himself using the scriptures.

Typical Characters

Jesus is mentioned prophetically in nearly every book of the Old Testament and portrayed by many typologically. Let’s look at a list of some of these character parallels that foreshadow Jesus Christ.


Moses’ life was endangered at birth as Jesus’ life was because of Herod

Mat 2:16

Moses was raised in the Pharaohs household as Jesus was the son of the most High

God. John 20:31, Mat 16:16-17, Rom 8:3

Moses abandoned his royal inheritance as Jesus left His glory becoming human.

Heb 2:9, Rom 1:3, Rom 8:3

Moses led the Jews from captivity of Egypt as Jesus delivered us from the kingdom of darkness.

Col 1:13, Rom 7:6

Moses was a prophet, a priest and a King as Jesus was.

Mat 14:58, John 16:13, Heb 3:21, Heb 6:20, Mat 27:11, 1Tim 6:15


Joseph was a shepherd as Jesus is a spiritual shepherd of believers.

John 10:11

Joseph’s father loved Joseph as Jesus was Gods beloved son.

Mat 3:17, Mat 17:5

Joseph dreamt of things bowing to him as all things and people will bow to Jesus.

Rom 14:11, Phil 2:10

Joseph was thrown in a pit as Jesus’ descended in to hell after death.

Mat 12:40, Eph 4:9, 1Pet 3:18-19

Joseph was sold by his brothers as Jesus was given up by His fellow Jews for


Mat 15:10-13

Josephs robe was soaked in blood to prove he was dead as Jesus’ robe will be red

because of his own blood.

Rev 19:13


People are not the only focuses of typology; other things may be considered types as well. We can sort these things in to four groups: people, places, objects, and events. Here is a simplified list of typological subjects.

Persons: Adam, Noah, Joseph, Moses, David, and Isaac

Places: Egypt, the Wilderness, Babylon, The Promised Land, and Jerusalem                

Things: The Ark, Moses’ staff, Jacobs latter, The bronze serpent, The tabernacle, The Utensils of the tabernacle, and Anointing oil

Events: The deliverance of Noahs family, The Passover , Water from the rock, Provision of manna

Everything works for Good

As we can see, there have been many events that foreshadowed something greater. As the author of Hebrews puts it those things are shadows of things to come but not the very image of those things themselves. As we study the symbolism embedded by Gods sovereignty and will we can learn valuable things about our Lords work of salvation and about our responsibilities as His followers.


A type should always be edifying to the believer and applicable to ones life so as to enhance their relationship with the Lord. The New Testament authors were fully aware of the examples and types that the Old Testament contained and they used them often to explain and clarify themselves to those who knew the Old Testament. Here are some examples of the lessons one may learn while researching typology:

Lessons from The Flood

In the study of the flood we see Noah, a righteous man in the midst of a completely corrupt civilization. Noah had a strong relationship with the Lord so that he was able to hear Gods voice instructing him to build the arc. This arc was the literal salvation of Noah and his family, if that arc was not built by Gods instructions Noah and his family could not have survived. The explanation of the typology can be translated like this: Noah is the ideal believer – hearing God and not fearing man.

Gods instructions to build the arc is the grace of God to provide salvation out of love.

The Arc is a symbol of ones salvation which is constructed by our obedience and reliance on God. It will carry us through destruction and death to the new heaven and earth.\

The flood symbolizes the impending destruction at the end of this age to all who do not know Jesus Christ.

Lessons from The Passover

The Passover is perhaps one of the most beautiful types of Christ’s atonement for our sin. The day before the Israelites were to leave Egypt God told Moses to instruct the people to kill their best young lamb and apply it’s blood to their door posts. This was to save their household from the angel of death that would pass over Egypt. The angel of death was the 10th plague to judge Egypt for it’s evil against Gods children. The Jews were also told to eat the lamb that they had killed. These things are very symbolic in that Jesus is the lamb that was slain for us (John 1:29, 1Peter 1:19, Rev 5:12). His death redeems us from our own eternal death and his blood on our lives protects us from Gods wrath against sin. Just as the Jews had to apply the blood to their door post we must apply Jesus’ blood to our lives in a visible and active way. The Israelites were also instructed to eat the flesh of the lamb, similar to how Jesus told us to eat of His flesh (John 6:53) and how eating is symbolic of taking something in to yourself and making yourself one with it. They had to do all that was asked of them so that they could be free from their slavery in Egypt and enter the Promised Land just as we are required to follow the path to Jesus so that we may be free from the bondage of sin and enter heaven.

Lessons from Sodom and Gomorrah

The record of Sodom and Gomorrah is mentioned twice as examples (or types) of judgment, once in 2 Peter 2:6 and again in Jude 1:7. If you recall the story you will remember that Lot was forewarned about impending judgment by the angel (Gen 19:13) which tells you that God will not do something unless it has been revealed (Amos 3:7) and that He does not punish the righteous for the deeds of the wicked (Pro 18:5). Another thing we can learn is that God looks at our hearts in our relationship with sin whether we cherish it or not – just as Lots wife looked back over her shoulder and was punished for it – we must leave sin and never look back.


As we read from the Word; Gods wisdom is endless (Daniel 2:20), His ability is limitless (Matthew 19:26) and He uses normal people and things to do His will. These pictures of Gods character translate seamlessly in to the idea that God has used special instances to prophetically represent a spiritual conclusion (such as redemption). That is what typology is, the study of ancient types and their fulfillment today. Some may think that the many regulations and rituals of the Law unnecessary but perhaps their was a deeper level of importance – that of revelation to those who would one day know the Fulfiller of all things. Just as the stars of the night sky silently sing praises to God; the many accounts of history in the Old Testament outline Gods character plan and testify of Christ and His Kingdom.


Larkin, Clarence.  Dispensational Truth.  Rev. Clarence Larkin Est., 1918.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptural quotations are from the New King James Version of the Bible.


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