Thursday, December 11, 2008

Interpretation of Types

The Bible does contain some types. When the Bible clearly indicates that a certain thing is a type, all the theologians agree that this thing should be considered a type. When the Bible does not contain these indications, some theologians still try to find types. However, most evangelical theologians are against that. They say that if the Bible contains a type, it clearly indicates that it is a type. Otherwise, the texts should not be considered as types. I agree with that. The fact that the Bible contains types does not mean that everything in the Bible should be interpreted typologically. If the Bible does not indicate clearly that a certain thing is a type of another thing (antitype), typological interpretation cannot be objective and will depend on the person who interprets the Bible. Typological interpretation is often used by leaders of abusive churches and cults in order to make the Bible speak what they want.

The following material is based on the books:
1. Carl B. Gibbs Principles of Biblical Interpretation
2. Henry A. Virkler Hermeneutics: Principles and Process of Biblical Interpretation
3. Understanding the Bible (published by ICI)

The main characteristics of types:
1. There should be some point of similarity or analogy between the type and antitype. However, they may have many differences. For example, Adam is a type of Christ: "Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come" (Romans 5:14). However, the Scripture speaks more about the differences between them than on the similarity (Romans 5:14-19).
2. There should be an evidence that the type was set by God to present what it illustrates. A similarity can be considered a type if there is some evidence of God's proof of that type.
3. A type should illustrate something in the future. Antitypes in the New Testament unveils the truths more fully than types in the Old Testament.
So, something can be considered a type if there is a similarity between a type and an antitype, a proof that the type was set by God, and an antitype in future.

The kinds of types:
1. Persons as types illustrate some important principles or truth of redemption with their life. For example, Adam is a type of Christ (Romans 5:14).
2. Events as types have analogies with some later events. For example, Paul used the condemnation of Israel as a type to warn Christians about unfaithfulness (1 Corinthians 10:1-11).
3. Ordinances as types illustrate later events in the history of salvation. For example, Sabbath was a type of the believers' eternal rest (Hebrews 4:1-11).
4. Ministries as types include Moses' ministry who being a prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15) is a type of Christ, Melchizedek's ministry (Hebrews 5:6) which is a type of Christ's eternal high priest ministry, and David's ministry of a king.
5. Actions as types. For example, Isaiah walked naked and barefooted as an illustration that Assyria would soon take the captives from Egypt and Ethiopia naked and barefooted (Isaiah 20:2-4).

Principles of interpretation of types:
1. Every type is interpreted in the same way in the Old Testament and the New Testament context. A type has only one interpretation and its interpretation is applied in a higher level. A type in the Old Testament has only one meaning which was implied by the author. So, the original meaning is not lost. However, types were used by God in a higher meaning as symbols of something else. An antitype is a realization of the original meaning of the type in a higher level.
2. When the New Testament give an interpretation of a type, we should use only this interpretation.If the New Testament gives two or three analogies between a type and an antitype, the interpreter should not invent more types, using every detail as a type.
3. Types should not be based on such weak analogies as color, number, ore shape.
4. A doctrine should not be based on a type. A type can serve only an illustration of a doctrine.

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