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Type in the Bible

The word TYPE in European languages derives from the Greek word TYΠOΣ (teepos) that originally meant "print, mould etc." (the root is in the verb TYΠTΩ (teeptoh), meaning  "to strike" (to type), and thereby also "to make a mark". It is found in this meaning in John’s Gospel 20:25 ("nail marks..."). The following metaphorical (or rather metonymical) meaning would be a "mould", then also "specimen", "model", "shape" etc. Thus in Acts 7:43 it means “idols” (that were made in moulds), then in Acts 7:44 "image", "shape", "pattern" seen by Moses in the desert.

In HERMENEUTICAL context, however, the word TYΠOΣ is used in the New Testament only in Paul’s epistles (1 Cor. 10:6.11, Rom. 5:14, Hebr. 8:5 = Exod. 25:40 and Hebr. 9:24), as well as once in 1 Pet. 3:21. The notion of type has been used abundantly since, beginning from the early church fathers until today. It was Origen (third century Church father from Alexandria) who introduced officially a notion of typology as one of four types of interpretation (literal, moral, typological, and allegorical). By this way, one may find a definition:

Closely allied to allegorical interpretation, if not indeed a species of it, is typological interpretation, in which certain persons, objects, or events in the Old Testament are seen to set forth at a deeper level persons, objects, or events in the New. In such interpretations, Noah's ark (Gen. 6:14–22) is interpreted to typify the church, outside which there is no salvation; Isaac carrying the wood for the sacrifice (Gen. 22:6) typifies Jesus carrying the cross; Rahab's scarlet cord in the window (Jos. 2:18–21) prefigures the blood of Christ; and so on. These are not merely sermon illustrations but rather aspects of a hermeneutical theory that maintains that this further significance was designed (by God) from the beginning. (Encyclopædia Britannica, from Encyclopædia Britannica Deluxe Edition 2004 CD-ROM. Copyright © 1994-2003 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. May 30, 2003.)

The New Testament "original" is called, on the basis of 1 Pet. 3:21, ANTITYPE (ANTITYΠOΣ), although in the Epistle to Hebrews these two terms (type and antitype) are used in inverse roles. An inconvenient side of thus chosen terminology emanates from the double meaning of the Greek preposition ANTI (before and against), and so we have, for example, the notion of ANTICHRIST as an adversary of Christ or false Christ (1 John 2:22), while the Lord Jesus himself is an "antitype" relatively to, say, Moses or Joseph who were his "type". In general typology, which is developed in this book, the notion " anti+person" is used mostly meaning an opposite, adverse type of the cited person, while Jung’s term archetype is used for the original (the term was used by the noted contemporary of apostles Philo of Alexandria, as well as some church fathers, e.g. Irinaeus /Against Heresies, 2:7:5/, Clement of Alexandria /Pedagogue, 3:11/ etc.). In the concrete cases the meaning of this and similar terms will be clear from the context, and will be stated explicitly if needed.


We will analyze briefly and rather systematically the cited verses that contain the word TYΠOΣ or where it is implied.

The first group of verses refers to persons. Thus we infer from 1 Cor. 10 that both Moses and the rock from which Israelites drank represent the type of Christ, that manna and water they drank represent a the type of “bread and wine”, that is of “Body of Christ and His blood” given for our salvation:

10:1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.( 1 Cor. 10:1-4)

In the Epistle to Romans, Adam is cited as a type of the future Adam – Christ, but in an opposite sense. The sin entered the word through the first Adam, while blessing came through the other one:

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment whichcame from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) (Rom. 5:12- 14 -17)

This kind of type can be called "antitype" in a negative sense, but, as said before, a care should be taken not to make confusion using the term in the sense of “fore-image”.

The second group of verses refers to institutions. So the apostle in his Epistle to Hebrews spoke about the sanctuary:

For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies (ANTITYPE) of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; (Hebr. 9:24)

The sanctuary here means the "tabernacle" where worship was performed in Israel until building of the temple in the time of Solomon and it was an "antitype" (pattern, copy) of the heavenly sanctuary, or more precisely of the "type" seen by Moses in his vision on Mount Sinai. These verses often confuse the hearers of the relevant lectures, for the type and antitype are used practically in a sense opposite to the commonly accepted, probably because in:

Since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; 5 who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “See,” He says, “that you make all things according to the pattern (TYPOS) which was shown you on the mountain.” (Hebr. 8:4b, 5)

is cited Septuagint:

And see that you make them after the pattern (TAVNIT) for them, which was shown to you on the mountain. (Exod. 25:40),

where the Hebrew word TAVNIT ("pattern") is translated as TYPOS, and apostle did not want to change the terminology (an aggravating circumstance is that it seems that three realities are concerned here: the first is the heavenly temple that surely cannot be reached by eyesight, the second is the image /type, plan of the model/ of the temple seen by Moses in his vision, and the third is the earthly temple that is just a model of the heavenly reality.

The third example refers to an event. In:

There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1 Pet. (3:21)

the universal Flood (wherein perished, as it is supposed, several billion people) is described as a type of baptizing by water, which is cited here decidedly as an "antitype", and which also saves us today in a spiritual sense, same as eight people from Noah’s family was saved at that time. It is right on the basis of this verse that the notion of antitype got its sense in typology.

It can be noticed from the above cited examples that all these basic typological structures have a common characteristic, that is so called "Christocentrism" (a term introduced by Martin Luther). In other words, directly or indirectly, the person of Jesus Christ is at the centre of all these examples.


Inspired by the above cited examples, theologians developed during previous centuries (beginning from early church fathers) a complete theological discipline ‑ typology, which as a hermeneutical discipline finds the examples from the Old Testament that explain or are fulfilled in the examples of the New Testament. Moreover, the service on the heaven and the earth today, and even in the future is being explained on the basis of some Old testament typological structures. Thus, there are many books dealing with symbolical meaning of the Old Testament temples and service therein, as well as with symbolic meaning of the holidays and rites performed at the time, while that meaning has its role until second coming of Christ, and even thereafter. As already said, at the centre of all those structures is the person of Jesus Christ, his service in the heaven and earth, once and now.




Old Testament

New Testament



Lower, literal, corporal

Higher, allegorical, spiritual

Table 1. Common understanding of Biblical types

Typology of Temple

Typology of temples begins with the tabernacle made in Moses’ time according to the image (TAVNIT in Hebrew, that is PARADEIGMA or TYPOS in the Greek translation - Septuagint) shown to him after the exodus from Egypt, then it continues with the temple built by Solomon according to the plan (TAVNIT) handed down to him by his father David, who drew it after God’s hand made him wise (1 Chron. 28:11-19). This temple was torn down during Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, repaired 70 years later by Zerubbabel and other returnees from the bondage:

Now in the second month of the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the rest of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all those who had come out of the captivity to Jerusalem, began work and appointed the Levites from twenty years old and above to oversee the work of the house of the LORD.
Now the temple was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius. (Ezra 3:8, 6:5)

and finally turned to magnificent building at the time of Herodians just before the first coming of Christ to this planet. The last temple mentioned in the Bible is presented in the vision given to prophet Ezekiel.

We shall not deal here with the meaning of the service in the temple (which is SKIA, that is a shade of heavenly realities), since it is covered in a vast literature, but only with the meaning of the temple itself. The way to fulfill this requirement leads through the book of prophet Ezekiel:

Then he brought me into the sanctuary...

Then I heard Him speaking to me from the temple, while a man stood beside me. And He said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever. No more shall the house of Israel defile My holy name, they nor their kings, by their harlotry or with the carcasses of their kings on their high places.” (Ezek. 41:1/a, 43:6.7)

Elsewhere we have these words written:

Thus says the Lord:
“Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest?” (Is. 66:1)

which is also conformed by Jesus’ words:

But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. (Matt. 5:34.35)

The words of prophet Isaiah say clearly that we cannot identify the manmade temple with the throne and footstool of God, but to understand Ezekiel’s words spiritually, that is symbolically. Therefore, the temple represents symbolically the entire universe.

However, since the spiritual temple (heaven and earth) represents a place of God’s dwelling (throne and footstool), then it also represents the likeness of God himself, as well as man, being a temple wherein God’s Spirit dwells (1 Cor. 6:19) represents a likeness of God.

By analogy, the service in the temple represents, on one hand, symbolically the process of liberating from sin in the universe (that is from God’s throne and footstool), while the same service, on the other hand, also reveals the plan of salvation, rebirth and spiritual advancement (consecration) of a man as an individual.

The constituent part of this service, beside the temple itself, is a system of sacrifices and holidays.

Typology of the System of Sacrifices

The system of Old Testament sacrifices points to the process of consecration of an individual as well as of the Earth, an even of the universe.

The system of Old Testament sacrifices points to the general principle of functioning of the universe. The sacrifice is the only means and way for personal and general purification and consecration. The Bible speaks about two basic kinds of sacrifices. The first group consists of those who support evil and disorder in the universe, and the other, certainly of those who are on the side of the “good”. Therefore, entire universe is liable to sacrifice, with the distinction that some are forced to it by the set of circumstances (that is of court or law):

And as for you, son of man, thus says the Lord God, ‘Speak to every sort of bird and to every beast of the field: “Assemble yourselves and come; gather together from all sides to My sacrificial meal which I am sacrificing for you, a great sacrificial meal on the mountains of Israel, that you may eat flesh and drink blood.’” (Ezek. 39:17)
Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh. (Rev. 19:17-21)

while for “the others”, the sacrifice represents a climax of expression of love:

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13)

Therefore it is not by chance that Adam’s beloved one was created by a form of his sacrifice, which (Adam being a likeness of God) points typically also to the way of God’s creating in general.

Until Golgotha, animals and, in some cases, even one’s own children were made sacrifices. Jesus pointed with his life and sacrifice to a new element, that by accepting that sacrifice as a type and model, and out of love for God and the neighbours, God’s people should give themselves, their own "bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God..." (Rom.12:1). On the other hand, Jesus’ sacrifice (he being by his life as “new Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45) a faithful likeness of Father (John. 14:9), differently from the first one who was unfaithful) points to the eternal sacrifice of God the Father.

Thus, it is only from Golgotha on that God’s people give themselves "as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God" (Rev. 2:10, 6:11, 13:15, 20:4) taking not others’ blood and sacrifices. Until Golgotha, God’s people SOUGHT constantly the revelation of God’s love and care; from Golgotha on, God seeks that his people grow up until the level of GIVING the same love and care.

Typology of God’s persons

It has been already said that one of the main characteristics of classical typology is "Christocentrism", a notion that was introduced to Western theology almost as a prerequisite by Martin Luther. Theologians mostly dealt with those examples that were noted by apostle Paul. Thus Moses and Adam are cited as types of Christ, then the priest with his service in the temple, and finally the sacrificial lamb (which is wrongly generalized by some to the entire system of sacrifices). However, there were only sporadically cited examples of other persons as Jesus’ types. Here only Joseph is presented as an example, being, to my opinion, the most appropriate choice for this topic. The corresponding parallel verses are put into the Table 2.

The similarity between the two persons is astonishing, of course in drastically different dimensions. The cited details from the life of patriarch Joseph fit so much, not only related to Jesus life spent on the earth, but also to the present Jesus service in heaven, so that a question is raised whether other details from Joseph’s life also have a typological significance. And it seems that they have.



Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children (Gen. 37:3)

This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him! (Matt. 17:5)

And his brothers said to him, “Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?” (Gen. 37:8)

Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” (Matt. 27:11)

So the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. (Gen. 37:28)

Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. (Matt. 26:14-15)

The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man (Gen. 39:2)

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. (Luke 2:52)

She caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside. (Gen. 39:12)

Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments (Matt. 27:35)

Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. (Gen. 39:20)

When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock. (Matt. 27: 59-60)

And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief butler and the chief baker. 3 So he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison, the place where Joseph was confined. (Gen. 40:2-3)

Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left. (Matt. 27:38)

Now within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your place, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand according to the former manner (Gen. 40:13)

And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

“Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head from you and hang you on a tree; and the birds will eat your flesh from you.” (Gen. 40:19)

Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” (Luke. 23:39)

But remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house. (Gen. 40:14)

Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42)

Now it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled, and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. And Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them for Pharaoh. (Gen. 41:8)

So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. (Rev. 5:4)

Then the chief butler spoke to Pharaoh: “Now there was a young Hebrew man with us there, a servant of the captain of the guard. And we told him, and he interpreted our dreams for us; to each man he interpreted according to his own dream. And it came to pass, just as he interpreted for us, so it happened.” (Gen. 41:9.12.13)

But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” (Rev. 5:5)

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you.” (Gen. 41:39)

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5:12)

And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” (Gen. 41:41)

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matt. 28:18)

And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Say to your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and depart; go to the land of Canaan. ‘Bring your father and your households and come to me; I will give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you will eat the fat of the land.” (Gen 45:17-18)

In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:2-3)

So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. (Gen. 45:8)

Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father. (John 10:17-18)

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. (Gen. 45:4)

Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. (Luke 24:36-37)

And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. (Gen. 45:7)

But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:20/b-21)

Joseph inquires his brothers. (Gen. 42:18-28)

Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened. (Dan. 7:10/b)

Table 2. The presentation of parallel verses indicating on Jacob’s son Joseph as a type of Jesus Christ. It is noticeable that his typology refers to Jesus’ earthly life as well as his previous life, but also to his future one, that is to his heavenly service.


Last updated 17.1.2006