Types and Shadows

This is the first in a series of posts titled Types and Shadows.

I’ve tried to make it very clear on this site that I am far from being a theologian. I have no formal theology training, and my knowledge of the Bible only goes as far as my own personal study has taken me. But I still find all things theological very interesting, and I think my main spiritual gift is the gift of knowledge (if there truly is such a thing). The thing I love the most in my Christian walk is studying God’s Word, and learning everything there is to learn about Him. That is why I have been working through the courses at the Online Bible College – the courses here have allowed me to systematically study the Bible, and this is, as we say here in Texas, “right up my alley.”

For this reason, when I started going through a course titled Types and Shadows, I quickly realized that this was going to be one I truly enjoyed. The purpose of the course is to look at those things in the Old Testament that are types and shadows of things in the New Testament. These words are not necessarily ones we use on a daily basis, but the meanings should be pretty clear once we look at them closer:

Types

The word type is a theology word taken directly from the Greek wording written by Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:11 – “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.” The word translated examples here in the NIV is the Greek word tupos, which is literally the word type. Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines it as “…a ‘model’ or ‘pattern’ or ‘mould’ into which clay or wax was pressed, that it might take the figure or exact shape of the mould. The word ‘type’ is generally used to denote a resemblance between something present and something future…”. Therefore, the things of the Old Testament that served as a “model” or “pattern” for the things of the New Testament would be considered types. These could be:

  • Personal types, where a person’s life and experiences typifies a New Testament truth
  • Historical types, where an historical event foreshadows a New Testament truth
  • Ritual types, where a ritual prescribed by Old Testament Law illustrates a New Testament truth

My lesson quoted the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia’s definition of type, which I really liked:

God in the types of the last dispensation was teaching His children their letters. In this dispensation He is teaching them to put the letters together, and they find that the letters, arrange them as they will, spell Christ, and nothing but Christ.

Shadows

The word shadow also comes from Paul’s writing, one example of which is Colossians 2:16-17 – “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” (emphasis added). A shadow is basically the same as a type, in that it represents an Old Testament entity that foreshadows a New Testament truth.  I liked the way my lesson today worded it:

When backlit by the sun, an object will cast a long shadow. When you look at that shadow you can see the basic form of the object, yet the shadow only points to the object. It is not the object itself. In the same way, it can be said that the Christ of the New Testament casts a long shadow across Old Testament history, revealing himself in countless prophetic images.

Traversing the Tapestry of Types

There are many great examples of types and shadows throughout Scripture. Adam serves as a type of Christ, in that just as through Adam’s actions all of humanity was affected (sin and death), the same is true of Christ (though in righteousness and life) (see Romans 5:14-19).  Jonah’s experience in the great fish is a shadow of Jesus’ burial and resurrection. The list could go on and on.  I know that my course doesn’t cover all examples (nor would I write about them all, even if it did…the Internet is only so big…). But the following posts in this series will walk through several of the main types in the Old Testament, including the various tabernacles and the temple, the sacrificial system, the Feasts, and more. I encourage you to stop back by each day for the next couple of weeks as we traverse these types, and dive deeper into the personality of Him who is our God and our King.

Go to the NEXT post in this series –>

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