The Greatest Word You’ve Never Heard Of

I want to teach you a theological word today – typology.

Don’t be afraid. Typology is a great word with great simple meaning. Typology the study of “types” in Scripture. By “type” I mean the pattern which exists in Scripture when a person, place, event, or action takes place which carries a preview (if you will) in it of the greater person, place, event, or action to come later in Scripture. This word comes from Romans 5:14 which speaks of the relation between Adam and Jesus. Paul says in this verse “Adam was a type of the One who was to come.” This means that in Adam’s person, in Adam’s actions, in Adam’s character, and in Adam’s failure a connection exists to point us to the greater Person who would come onto the scene later in history. Who is this greater Person to come? Jesus, it’s always Jesus. Therefore theologians say, “Adam is a type of Christ.”

This is not a new way to interpret the Bible, in fact, very early in the history of the Church St. Augustine said this about how the New and Old Testaments relate to each other, “The New is in the Old concealed, and the Old is in the New revealed.”

Charles Spurgeon, the great Prince of Preachers, the Baptist from London said this:

“Don’t you know young man, that from every town, every village, and every little shack there is a road to London? And so we see a divine truth here, from every text in Scripture we see a road to the metropolis of Christ, so much so that when you get to a text of Scripture your primary business is to answer the question, “What is the road to Christ here?” and then to preach a sermon running along that road towards the great metropolis of Christ.”

This means in every passage of Scripture there is an element that points beyond it’s own time and place in redemptive history, directing the gaze of God’s people forward to the coming King. Blessed are we readers and hearers who do not stumble over the ways Jesus presents Himself to be the long-promised God-Man. We can derive through studying the New Testament’s use of the Old a paradigm, a pattern, a way of viewing the experiences, officials, institutions, and hopes of Israel that opens wide the gates to the riches of the vast redemptive plan of God which reaches its culmination and climax in the Person of Jesus Christ. This discovery in seeing Jesus actually fulfill and preview Himself and His saving work throughout the whole of Scripture satisfies an ancient longing within us, and rescues us from the false belief that we are New Testament Christians alone! You see there is a temptation within the Church to ignore the Old Testament and stick the New, when in reality every doctrine we believe, and every practice we partake in must be a whole Bible doctrine, or a whole Bible practice. This is why Paul said in Acts 20:27 that he did not shrink back from teaching the churches “the whole counsel of God.”

If the Scriptures are indeed the Word of the God who sovereignly directs all of world history, it follows that the whole of the Old Testament is oriented toward fulfillment beyond itself in the New Testament; it follows that the whole of the Old Covenant promises to Israel are oriented toward fulfillment beyond itself in the New Covenant promises to the Church.

To reject this is to come to the Bible with a reductionistic approach. We cannot define any doctrine or any truth Biblically by the Old Testament or New Testament alone. Everything in the Christian life must be directed and defined by the whole counsel of God. Jesus Himself said this is how we’re to read His Word, in Luke 24:27 Jesus began with Moses and all the prophets, revealing to the men on the road to Emmaus “the things concerning Himself.” Also in Luke 24:44 Jesus says, “Everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Acts 28:23 says Paul expounded to his hearers from morning till evening “trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.” Colossians 1:28 gives us the meat of all the Apostle’s preaching, “HIM WE PROCLAIM, warning everyone, teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” If Jesus, Paul, and the early Church viewed the Bible as a whole book all leading up to one Man, and then reflecting on that one Man should we not view it in the same manner?

For example: in Romans 5:12-21 Jesus is called the Last Adam meaning He is the image of God who obeyed where the first Adam failed, and by the obedience of the Last Adam we have life, and triumph over the death that spread to all men through the disobedience of the first Adam. 1 Peter 3:20-21 reveals that as Noah’s ark provided safety and shelter from the wrath of God, so too in Jesus the Church is safe from final punishing judgment from God. Jesus is the descendant of Abraham in Galatians 3:16 who blesses all nations on the earth. Romans 8:32 shows Jesus to be the Son, not spared as Abraham was permitted to spare Isaac, but sacrificed as the Lamb of God whose death spares others. Matthew 4 reveals Jesus is the true Israel of God, who was obedient in the wilderness where the first Israel was not. 1 Cor. 5:7 presents Jesus as our Passover Lamb who covers the Church with His blood so death passes over us as the blood of the lamb covered Israel in Egypt and passed over them!

There is always a heightening isn’t there? God will not merely repeat the deeds of the past, He will do greater things, climatically greater: a new creation, a second exodus, a new covenant, a new people, all brought into being by a new and greater Prophet. Is this not crystal clear? The unresolved tensions within the Old Testament cry out for resolution in the coming of the Lord and the coming of a Servant unstained by the infidelities that had always polluted Israel and her leaders.

This is all over the Bible, praise God for that!

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