Clarence E. Mason's "TYPOLOGY"
BY THE AUTHOR
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
- Warrant for typical study:
This is found in 1 Cor. 10:6-11, from which we select the following quote
"Now these things were our examples (lit., happened as types for us),
to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lust. Now
all these things happened unto them for examples (lit., as types) and they
are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."
Not only are the types important but they are profitable in keeping us from
making the mistakes others made. They teach us spiritual truths and spiritual
lessons as Rom. 15:4 says, "For whatsoever things were written aforetime
were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the
Scriptures might have hope."
A proper understanding of the spiritual significance of Old Testament typical
history is essential to save us from going back into babyhood. The "milk"
of the Word is simply the historical statement. The "solid food"
of the Word, required for proper growth, is the spiritual or typical significance
of that historical statement. See Heb. 5:10-14 and cp. Gen. 14, where the
mere historical statement concerning Melchisedek is described as "milk,"
while the spiritual significance of those statements are called "meat"
- Four ways to read the Old
- Historically or literally,
"All these things happened," 1 Cor. 10:11. These 0.T. incidents
are historical incidents.
- To whom is this said?
For whose rule of life is this? In what age was it said? What was
God's particular message for man in that age? What was man's responsibility?
- Is there a dispensational
picture or lesson in this passage? "Distinguish the ages and
the Scriptures agree" -- Augustine.
- Spiritually or applicationally.
What is the spiritual lesson from this passage? What truth does it illustrate
that will have practical bearing on walk? 1 Cor. 9:8-11.
- Typically or Christologically.
Types are primarily connected with Christ and truths which center around
His person and work or our relation to them, e.g., Cor. 10:4. They
may be direct, or by inference or contrast, or they may be just apt illustrations
of Scripture truths. "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy"
- Difference between allegorical
and typical study:
Origen introduced the allegorical method of interpretation (around A.D. 210-254).
The allegorical method denies literal history and so says, for instance, that
in Genesis 3 the tree and its fruit were not literal but figurative, that
the story of the "tree" was just a way of saying that here was something
(we know not what) which attracted Eve. -- which she should not have allowed
to attract her, -- but which she did allow to attract her, and thus sinned.
On the contrary, the typical method of study insists upon the literality of
the text, upon the actual event or fact (i.e., a literal tree and fruit),
but says that this literal fact in God's providence is an illustration of
a truth God has revealed or completed in the New Covenant (Testament); i.e.,
by contrast and comparison with Christ's threefold temptation, and by comparison
with our temptations (1 Jn. 2:15-16).
An allegory is a fiction; a type is a historic fact which illustrates some
- Definition of a type
- The word means literally
"the mark left by a stroke or a blow." It is used 16 times in
the New Testament and is translated several ways:
(1) Jn. 20:25
- Figure (2)
Acts 7:43; Rom. 5:14; Heb. 9:24
- Pattern (3)
Tit. 2:7; Heb. 8:5
- Fashion (4)
- Manner (5)
(6) Rom. 6:17
- Example (7)
1 Cor. 10:6, 11; Phil. 3:17; 1 Thes. 1:7 2 Thes. 3:9; 1 Tim. 4:12;
1 Pet. 5:3
- Shadow Heb.
- Figure Heb.
9:9 R.V. "parable"
- Pattern Heb.
9:23 R.V. "copy"
- The significance of the
use of the word:
"A type is a divinely purposed illustration of some truth. [It may
be: (l) a person (Rom. 5:14); (2) an event (1 Cor. 10:11); (3) a thing
(Heb. 1:20); (4) an institution (Heb. 9:11); (5) a ceremonial (1 Cor.
5:7)] Types occur most frequently in the Pentateuch, but are found, more
sparingly, elsewhere. The antitype, or fulfillment, of the type is found
usually in the New Testament." Scofield Reference Bible, p. 4
"A person or thing in the Old Testament dispensation that represents
and prefigures a person or thing in the New Testament dispensation (hence
called the antitype)." Hastings, Dictionary of Bible.
"Types are pictures, object lessons, by which God taught His people
concerning His grace and saving power. The Mosaic system was a sort of
kindergarten in which God's people were trained in Divine things by which
also they were led to look for 'better things to come.' An old writer
thus expresses it? 'God in the types of the last dispensation was teaching
the children their letters. In this dispensation He is teaching them to
put the letters together and they find, however they put them together,
they all spell Christ and nothing but Christ. International Standard
- Distinctive features
of a type:
- It must be a true picture
of the person or thing it prefigures.
- It must be of Divine appointment
- It always prefigures something
futures It is really prophecy in concrete form.
- How much of the Old Testament
There are two extremes to be avoided:
- Some find types in
every incident however trivial. This involves the danger of unbridled
- Some people seem to
go in for this. Some limit the types to those expressly mentioned in the
N.T. This error assumes that the N.T. exhausts the types of the O.T.
Whenever the three distinctive features mentioned under V above are found
in any incident or person, we may authoritatively call it a type. Perhaps
to be on the safe side, if anything does not fulfill these three things,
we might better say it is similar to a type, but not authoritatively cal
it a type.
At the same time, in 1 Corinthians 10:1-10, Paul is sketching O.T. incidents
almost at random as appropriate incidents come to mind. He does not pretend
to be making an exhaustive list Yet he calls them all "types"
(vv. 6,10). Further the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews, in referring
to the furniture of the Tabernacle, indicates in this divine commentary
on 0.T. types that he could write far more on types than he does ("
which we cannot now speak particularly" Heb. 9:5). By this statement
he means, "I could say a lot more about the typological message of
the O.T., for there is much more, but it is not appropriate now."
- Rules for the interpretation
- A type must never be used
to teach a doctrine, but only used to illustrate a doctrine explicitly
- No conclusions must be
drawn which are inconsistent with the clearer and full revelation
of Divine truth.
- Never forget that typical
teaching or typical interpretation must not obscure the historical reality
of the record.
- Study similar types to
get a full view:
- EXAMPLE: The Shepherds
of the O.T.
- Abel = The First
- Isaac = The Wealthy
- Jacob = The Enduring
- Joseph = The Hated
and Rejected Shepherd
- Moses = The Leading
or Prophet Shepherd
- David = The Delivering
and Reigning Shepherd
- Seek the illumination of
the Holy Spirit, Jn. l6:l314.
- The N.T., we should remember,
will usually furnish the key.
"The New is in the "Old concealed,
The Old is in the New revealed."
- Reasons for the study of types:
- God sets great value on
them (e.g., the book of Hebrews).
- Our Lord thought much
of them (Jn. 3:14. 3:14; Mt. 12:40)
- They all speak of Him.
- Because of the high place
the N.T. assigns to them (e.g., 1 Cor. 5:6-8).
- Many N.T. passages cannot
be fully understood without knowing the O.T. types (e.g., Heb. 10:19-20).
- The types cover practically
the whole range of N.T. teaching.
- A study of the types is
a sure antidote to the higher critical approach and teaching concerning
the O.T., showing these are divinely planned prophecies which tie Old
and New Testament together in a basic, supernatural unity (e.g., Gal.
3:8; 4:21-5:1; etc.).
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