“The Old Testament can well be called the kindergarten of the Bible. Intricate doctrines, abstract truths, and metaphysical concepts involved in the story of redemption as set forth in the New Testament are broken down in the Old and laid out in pieces. Someone has said that the study of types is a study of Christ in parts” (Dr. Charles H. Stevens. The Wilderness Journey, Scripture Truth, 11).
Types have been called “picture prophecies” because types are a kind of prophecy. Types prefigure coming reality while prophecies verbally describe the future. Types are expressed in events, persons, and acts while prophecies are expressed in words. “In the Old, we have the portrait; in the New we have the Person” (Dr. Charles H. Stevens, 12). For example, the brazen serpent (Numbers 21:9) was a picture prophecy or type of Christ’s death. Isaiah 53 is a verbal prophecy of Christ’s death. Both are predictive. Prophecy is verbally predictive. Types are typically predictive. “Typology is but the handmaiden of theology. Typology is the OT visual aid to the NT doctrines” (Dr. Charles H. Stevens, 12).
What is a Type?
Dwight Pentecost defines a type: “A type is an institution, historical event or person, ordained by God, which effectively prefigures some truth connected with Christianity” (Pentecost, Things To Come, page 51). Bernard Ramm states his definition: “In the science of theology it properly signifies the preordained representative relation which certain persons, events and institutions of the Old Testament bear to correspoinding persons, events, and institutions in the New” (Protestant Biblical Interpretation, 227).
Allegorial interpretation is not ordained nor preordained by God but comes from the imagination of the interpreter: “A fitting example of the wolf dwelling with the lamb is seen in the change that came over the vicious persecutor Saul of Tarsus, who was a wolf ravening and destroying, but who was so transformed by the Gospel of Christ that he became a lamb. After his conversion he lost his hatred for the Christians, and became instead their humble friend, confidant, defender” (Isa. 11:6). (Loraine Boettner, “Postmillennialism,” in The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views, ed. Robert G. Clouse (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1977, 90).
In my next post I will discuss why we should study types.