Christological Principles of Typolgy
by Nick Batzig @FeedingOnChrist
I’ve often been asked to explain how we can know whether the typology we are doing is a biblically warranted, covenantal typology over against the fanciful typology so frequently employed in Dispensationalism. This is not an easy question to answer. There are so many theological principles that undergird a biblical approach to typology. Two of the greatest hinderances to coming to a settled stance on biblical typology are 1) a lack of robust biblical theology, and 2) a lack of a careful, detailed reading and knowing of the Scriptures. In Matthew 12, our Lord Jesus demonstrated the bringing together of these two things when He proclaims a covenantal typology of Himself from the Old Testament. There, He says that David, the Temple, Solomon and Jonah were all types of Himself–the greater anti-type of all these people or things.
A biblical type may be safely described as “any person, place, event or thing in the Old Testament that serves the covenantal purposes of God, in a preparatory manner, until the fulfilling all things in redemption through the anti-type, Jesus Christ, or some particular benefit of His saving work.” This definition allows types in redemptive history to be more than simply people. This is important because we can say that the Ark was a type of the Temple and the New Creation in which man and animal are redeemed to dwell together. When Noah and the animals leave the Ark they step out into a typical new creation. Noah was most certainly a type of Christ (see this post), but his surroundings also served as types of the consummated work of Christ. These sorts of conclusions are not always easy to arrive at, but they certainly fit within the canonical, covenantal nature of Scripture.
So what resources are out there that can help us gather some of the most important and underlying principles of typology? Edmund Clowney’s WTS lecture “Christ in the Old Testament: Typology/Use of Symbolism in the NT” and “Christ in the Old Testament: Biblical Metaphor and Typology“ are two of the best audio resources available on principles of typology. Patrick Fairbairn’s classic volume, The Typology of Scripture, and Benjamin Keach’s Tropologia: A Key to Open Scriptual Metaphors are still two of the best and most thorough works on this subject.
Covenant Theology and Typology go hand-in-hand. You can not understand one without understanding the other. I encourage you to follow the link to continue reading Nick’s post at Feeding on Christ.