Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 5, 1961
NUMBER 34, PAGE 1,12a

Types And Their Abuse

Jerry C. Ray, Irving, Texas

Webster's Dictionary defines type as "a person or thing regarded as the symbol of someone or something that is yet to appear." The word type (Greek — tupos) is from the Greek word, tuptein — to strike, as when a hammer strikes and leaves an impression. Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon says:

"A. In the technical sense, viz. the pattern in conformity to which a thing must be made: Acts 7:44, Heb. 8:5, (Ex. 25:40)....c. in a doctrinal sense, a type i. e. a person or thing prefiguring a future (Messianic) person or thing: in this sense Adam is called tupos tou mellontos....Rom. 5:14." (p. 632)

The Word Tapir Occurs 16 Times In The New Testament. It Is Translated "Print" Twice (John 20:25; Figure" Two Times (Acts 7:43, Rom. 5:14); "Pattern" Twice (Tit. 2:7, Heb. 8:25); "Fashion" Once (Acts 7:44); "Manner" Once (Acts 23:25); "Form" Once (Rom. 6:17); And "Example" Seven Times (1 Cor. 10:6, 11, Phil. 3:17, 1 Thess. 1:7, 2 Thess. 3:9, 1 Tim. 4:12, 1 Pet. 5:3). While The Word Is Used With Some Latitude, It Has One General Idea — "Likeness."

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia States:

"A person, event or thing is so fashioned or appointed as to resemble another; the one is made to answer to the other in some essential feature; in some particulars the one matches the other. The two are called type and antitype; and the link which binds them together is the correspondence, the similarity, of the one with the other." (William G. Moorehead. "Type", Vol. V, p. 3029).

The word antitype should be noted. Antitype (antitupos) is the fulfillment of the type, or in other words, the anti-type is the thing prefigured in the type. Thayer states:

"In the N. T. language antitupon as a subst. means 1. a thing formed after some pattern (tupos) Heb. 9:24 (R. V. like in pattern). 2. a thing resembling another, its counterpart; something in the Messianic times which answers to the type.... prefiguring it in the O. T. as baptism corresponds to the deluge: 1 Pet. 3:21." (p. 51)

Three words in the New Testament are used with similar import: (1) Shadow (skia) in Heb. 10:1, "For the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things...." implies dimness and transitoriness, but with a resemblance. (2) copy or pattern (hupodeigma) in Heb. 9:23; the tabernacle and its furniture were copies of the heavenly things. (3) Parable (parabole) in Heb. 9:9; the tabernacle with its services was an acted "parable" prefiguring things to come.

I. S. B. E. divides types into three classifications: (I) Personal types (Adam and Christ, Rom. 5:14). (2) Historical types (Caanan's wanderings in the wilderness and the Christian's life on this earth, 1 Cor. 10:1-12). (3) Ritual types (The word of the High Priest and Christ, as our High Priest, Heb. 9:24-28).

Thus, God, in His infinite wisdom, and according to His plan, prefigured and foreshadowed in events of the long ago, great truths that have to do with our salvation through Christ.

What Constitutes A Type

There is another word that needs defining. Analogy means "a relation of likeness, between two things or one thing to or with another, consisting in the resemblance not of things themselves but of two or more attributes, circumstances, or effects." We hear brethren speak of types when they mean analogies. An analogy is a resemblance between things, but a type is a divinely given analogy. The lack of distinction between these two things has given rise to much false interpretation of the Scriptures and many false doctrines. Men have taken fanciful analogies under the cloak of types to prove every conceivable false doctrine. The stock in trade of many preachers is the fulfillment of "typical prophecies." (They're the ones who see Stalin, Khrushchev, the Atomic bomb, etc. in the Old Testament and Revelation). One of these, Herbert W. Armstrong, can find in the prophets a passage for nearly every imaginable political and religious event of the present day. He states that 75% of the Bible is prophecy and 90% of that prophecy is for this present generation!

The key to the fallacy of this and other fanciful interpreters of the Bible was stated by brother H. Leo Boles in his written debate with R. H. Boll, premillennialist. Brother Boles said, "No proposition which depends wholly upon interpretation of unfulfilled prophecies for its proof can ever be established" and "man, unaided by inspiration, is unable to interpret unfulfilled prophecy with any degree of certainty." What he said of prophecy is equally true with regard to "typical prophecy" and types. To test this, just go through the prophecies and the types and see how many you would never have recognized if the inspired writers had not spoken.

What constitutes a type? Mr. Moorehead (I. S. B. E.) lists three things: (1) It must be a true picture of the person or the thing it represents or prefigures. (2) The type must be of Divine appointment. (3) A type prefigures something future. Actually only the second of these is necessary by way of definition. If God appoints the type, it will be a true picture (number one) and it will represent something future to it (number three). But one and three are helpful for clarification.

In considering how much of the Old Testament is typical Mr. Moorehead missed his own point made in number two. He states that we should not go to the extremes of the Early Fathers (Origen, Ambrose, Jerome) who saw great mysteries in the cords and pins of the tabernacle, the yield of the herds, even in the number of fish caught by the disciples. (John 21:11) He says the other extreme is in contrasting the typical elements of the Old Testament. He places Prof. Moses Stuart in this number and quotes Stuart's position: "Just so much of the O. T. is to be accounted typical as the N. T. affirms to be so, and no more."

Mr. Stuart's statement (if we understand his language) is absolutely right. The N. T. must speak plainly that a thing is a type before we can declare such to be so. If an inspired man does not say a thing is a type, then how can an uninspired man speak? This does not mean that a N. T. writer must say, "This is a type" before it is so, but he must make such statements or allusions to that effect that there can be no doubt as to the typical nature of the thing. Men are too prone to find something in the Old Testament that reminds them of something in the New Testament and say, "This is it; this is a type" when there is no such statement, implication, or inference. There may be an analogy, but analogies are not types.

This is not to say that we are opposed to sermons based on analogies (although some are so far-fetched and synthetic as to be ridiculous). But let's call them what they are: analogies, not types. Only God appoints types and man cannot know a type unless God has spoken. (1 Cor. 2:11-13)