Hermeneutics - Lesson 20

Hermeneutics and Typology

In this lesson, Dr. Todd Miles explores the concept of typology in biblical interpretation. Typology involves finding resemblances or similarities between Old Testament figures, events, and institutions and their fulfillment in the New Testament, particularly in relation to Jesus Christ. The key elements of typology include resemblance, divine intention, prefiguration, a future referent, heightened analogy, and a predominant typological connection to Jesus Christ. Types can be found in various forms, such as persons (e.g., Adam, Moses, David), events (e.g., Israel in Egypt, the destruction of Bethlehem's children), institutions (e.g., sacrificial system, priesthood, kingship), and actions (e.g., Isaiah's symbolic actions).

Todd Miles
Lesson 20
Watching Now
Hermeneutics and Typology

A. Introduction

B. Definition

C. Assumptions of Typological Interpretation

D. Concept of Typology

E. Spectrum of positions concerning typology

F. Essential elements of which types consist

G. Identifying types

H. Classification of types

I. Examples to test

J. Typology different from allegory

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  • Understanding the Bible through biblical theology is crucial, as it reveals the overarching narrative of God's redemptive plan, centered on His glory and the role of Jesus Christ, enabling a more profound comprehension of individual Bible passages and their relevance to our lives.
  • Dr. Todd Miles underscores the vital role of historical and cultural context in interpreting the Bible. Understanding the era when a passage was penned is crucial for grasping its genuine significance. Using examples like the virgins' parable and Revelation 3:14-22, it demonstrates how historical context aids in discerning interpretations and adds depth to the message. The text emphasizes that, while the Bible offers some historical context, external sources can also enhance comprehension. In conclusion, historical and cultural context is essential for accurate biblical interpretation.
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  • In this lesson, Dr. Todd Miles discusses various types of psalms found in the Psalter and delves into their unique characteristics and theological significance. He begins by providing a list of different kinds of psalms, emphasizing that this list is not exhaustive but illustrative, highlighting the diversity of poetry within the Psalms.
  • By studying this lesson, you gain insight into essential figures of speech in the Bible and learn to interpret them effectively, enhancing your hermeneutical skills and deepening your understanding of the Scriptures.
  • In this lesson, Dr. Todd Miles discusses the interpretation of parables. Parables are a specific literary genre with their own rules of interpretation. Parables are designed to teach a single point, although there might be exceptions. Historical context remains essential in understanding parables, as they are shaped by the situations of the day. 
  • This lesson explores Proverbs and wisdom literature, focusing on its distinct genre, interpretation rules. Dr. Miles highlights its purpose, living wisely with God. It emphasizes the fear of the Lord, touches Ecclesiastes' question of meaning, and Job's theodicy.
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  • This lesson provides practical guidelines for applying biblical principles. Dr. Miles emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit, examining the original context, and identifying parallel situations in the present. He encourages applications to be personal, specific, measurable, and time-bound, ensuring they lead to tangible actions in your life.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp the Holy Spirit's vital role in biblical interpretation, going beyond changing hearts to enabling comprehension and acceptance of the text. Dr. Todd Miles stresses the Spirit's role in illuminating the Bible, making it relevant to believers, challenging the idea that unbelievers interpret it as effectively, and emphasizing the importance of understanding the text's intent. The ultimate aim is not mastery but being mastered by the text, with the Holy Spirit as a key player.
Hermeneutics is the science and art of the interpretation of the Bible. It's a science because it is an orderly process based on rules you can apply. It is an art because of the nuances in communication and translation.



Dr. Todd Miles


Hermeneutics and Typology

Lesson Transcript


The next topic that I want to look at is typology. And this is really a sub topic of prophecy. Typology comes from the Greek word tupos, which means type. A synonym of a type would include the concepts of resemblance or likeness or similarity. And typology is based on the idea that there is a super intended pattern within the Bible due entirely to God's governance over redemptive history. And it works this way God prefigured His work in, say, the Old Testament and fulfilled it in the New Testament. Now, it's not always that nice and clean Old Testament, New Testament, but it's a helpful way to think. The prefigure is referred to the type, the fulfillment is the anti type and here anti were thinking of it as the Greek prefix on t, which doesn't mean against it means in the place of so from for trivial or trivia for those who are interested in the Bible, the Antichrist is not someone who is first and foremost against Christ, although he is the Antichrist is someone who comes in the place of Christ in the place of Christ, and because of that is against Christ. He's an Antichrist in that sense. So the type, the prefigurement the anti type. The fulfillment to make it even simpler. The Old Testament has types of Christ and Jesus is the anti type to each of those types. Now, we might think before we dig into this further, how are types different from symbols? Well, they're not that different except in some in two very significant ways. Symbols serve as signs of something without necessarily being similar in many or if any respects. Types, on the other hand, resemble in at least one way the thing that they prefigure. So, for example, the seven golden lamp stands that we find in Revelation chapter two, verse one. Those are symbols of the churches. The lamp stands don't really resemble churches in any significant way. Second types always point forward. The type always comes before the anti type. They they shine a spotlight on a future reality. Symbols may not point forward. We see that even with the example that they gave earlier in revelation two one that there's the lamp stands. Those symbolize the churches that were in existence at that time. And another example of a symbol is is like a flag. A flag doesn't necessarily resemble the nation that it symbolizes. It just is symbolic of the nation. Now, I know that in America we have our 50 stars for the States and 13 stripes for the for the colonies. But the colors. Is there anything particularly inherently American about red, white and blue? Only because those are our national colors and they're our national colors because that's what the people who made the flag chose them to be. We might ask this then how is typology different from allegory? Well, typology is the search for linkages between historical events, persons or things within salvation history. And I'm I'm borrowing from Verklar in his book, Hermeneutics Here Typology is the search for linkages between either historical events. Those can be types. Persons can be types or things within salvation history. And so you're looking in salvation history and you're thinking, how is this linked ahead to something in the future? Allegory, though, is the search for secondary and hidden meanings that underlie the primary the obvious meaning of a historical narrative? In other words, the history for allegory doesn't really matter. But in typology it does. We want to know what the figure meant back then and understand how does that point ahead to a future reality? A good example of extremes in allegory would be the church fathers writing about the Old Testament story of Lot and his two daughters. That it's again, it's another creepy story that's in the Bible. That story was allegory used by both the Jewish people and by church fathers, where arbitrary virtues or vices are attached to a lot. And his two daughters that vainglory, pride, jealousy, things of that nature. That's what the two daughters represent. But how in the narrative do we find anything historically about pride or jealousy in the two daughters? That doesn't make any sense. So the oftentimes allegory you attach, meaning that's totally untethered from that historical context or redemptive history at the time in typology, we're looking hard at how that individual was understood at the time in its historical context. So an example of typology in John chapter three verses 14 and 15, Jesus is talking to Nicodemus and he says, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the son of man be lifted up that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. That bronze serpent that Moses lifted up was not this arbitrary thing that he lifted up just kind of for the heck of it. No. The children of Israel were being punished by being bitten by poisonous snakes. They could only do one thing to survive. They had to look to God. That is, look to this snake on a stick that Moses had made. That was the prescribed way that they could be saved. And so what did Moses do? He makes this snake. He puts it on a stick and he lifts it up. And salvation would come if the children of Israel, when they were bitten, looked to the snake. Jesus understood that he doesn't make up a meaning for the snake on a stick, but he likens himself to it as it was understood at the time, just as the snake was lifted up and the people could look to it and be saved. So must the son of man be lifted up so that whoever looks at him might be saved. So you see how what the snake represented back then is then anticipated in the future. That's the difference between topology and allegory. So let me give you a definition now that I've talked about it so much. In the notes. I have a variety of Greek words that are used in the New Testament that point to the idea of typology. And it's not important that you memorize or those words at all. There's there's certainly the word tupos, which in in the Greek New Testament that that signifies an impression or a mark or an image such as would be made by a hard object. Striking a soft object leaves behind an imprint or a pattern. There's other words as well that speak of representation or outline or a comparison or likeness, an image. All of these are words that point to the idea that something can be prefigured in the past that points ahead to the future. Now, how does typology actually work? Here are some of the assumptions of topological interpretation. And here I'm borrowing from Rob Plummer a bit in his 40 questions about interpreting the Bible. He said, First off, the authors of Scripture had a concept of corporate solidarity. The act of an individual is not merely an individual act, but is often representative of the community as well. So for example, in second Corinthians five, verse 14, we read For the love of Christ controls us because we have concluded this. That one has died for all. Therefore, all have died. There's corporate solidarity both in Adam. We see that in Romans, where all have died because of Adam, but in Christ all lived. And then when Christ dies on the cross. Jesus died for all and all have died in him, only to rise with him. So corporate solidarity is very important when it comes to typology. The biblical authors also assumed a continuity in God's governance over Israel so that early events would foreshadow later events. God works in consistent ways. The analogy that's used is consider walking up a dimly lit staircase. As we're walking up, we might not be able to see the next step, but we assume that it's there because we assume the steps are going to follow in like sequence. Aberrations would be problematic, but they would be just that aberrations in the same way God works in consistent ways. And so we anticipate that when he raises up someone like David, who is a good and godly king, that that's going to remind us of the best king later on. God's standard for what is great and good doesn't change over time. The New Testament authors understood themselves to be living in days of eschatological fulfillment, too. They understood that the hero of the salvation story had already appeared Jesus, and therefore it's only legitimate to look back at that, which was to prepare us for his coming and then see how he was foreshadowed. The Newton authors also believe that all the Scriptures were about Christ. That was Jesus's claim. We looked at Luke 24 when we talked about biblical theology, about Jesus as the star of the biblical storyline. Second Corinthians 1:20 says All the promises of God find their yes in Jesus First Peter one verses ten through 12 reads Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicated when he predicted the sufferings of Christ in the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves, but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preach the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from Heaven things into which angels longed to look. If all the scriptures point to Jesus, then it's legitimate to see things as pointing to Jesus. The biblical authors. The concept of fulfillment was often broader than our normal English term. We tend to think that fulfillment of prophecy only works in one way. There's a specific prophecy or prediction made about Jesus that reads something like, when Messiah comes, he will look like this, and then, Oh, it's Jesus that fulfills this prophecy. But they saw the fulfillment as much broader than that. Different kinds of prophecies could be fulfilled in Jesus other than just straight prediction of Jesus. So Matthew 5:17 Jesus fulfills the law. He drew out the full implications of it. In Mark 1:15, The times are fulfilled. A completion of a fixed time. Sometimes fulfillment is satisfying a request or a desire. You fulfilled my request. Sometimes you carry out what is promised. I fulfilled what was promised. Sometimes fulfillment is conforming to or obeying a requirement. We see that in Matthew chapter three, verse 15, for example. And oftentimes, and this is where it gets more difficult correspondence of phrases, illustrations or events between one historical period and another. We see this in Hosea, a Chapter 11 verse one, where Hosea, speaking for God, rehearses Israel's history for the purpose of shaming Israel. God rescued Israel out of Egypt. It God said to Israel, out of Egypt, I have called my son, he says, and then he goes on to condemn them for turning against him, even though he called them out of Israel as a son. Then Matthew sees, oh, just as God called Israel out of Egypt, so and called his son out of Egypt. So he calls Jesus his son out of Jesus as well. Jesus is recapitulating or he's doing over what Israel did only this time better. All of these concepts of fulfillment work when it comes to topology. So let's keep thinking about typology. We've skirted around it a little bit. What what is the concept in. Well first pre figuration is its distinctive. Here is a quote from very clear. Again, he says, A type is a ordained representative relationship which contained persons, events and institutions. They bear to corresponding persons, events and institutions occurring at a later time in salvation history. So it is preordained. It is intentional by God. God has raised up someone in the past to point ahead to somebody in the future. So I give you Axiom 20. A type is a preordained relationship between persons, events and institutions and Jesus Christ or his redemptive work that was meant to prepare and explain the person and work of Christ. Now, how do you find types in the Bible? And there are a wide range of ideas on how to find types. I'm reminded of one of George Carlin's better comedy sketches where he did far less cursing than he normally was famous for. But in in his comedy sketch sketch on driving, he talks about how have you ever, like, driven down the highway and you're driving the right speed, and everyone who's driving slower than you is an idiot. But if they're driving faster than you, they're a maniac. You're driving along and with this guy in front of me. So. So what an idiot. I wish this idiot would speed up. Whoa, Look at that maniac. Go. It's. Everyone has to be driving my speed. Well, it's kind of the same way when it comes to topology. There are people who see way more types than me. Well, these guys are crazy allegories. And then there are people who see far fewer types than me. Oh, they're just wooden literalists. Right. And who wants to be around a crazy allegories or a wooden literalist? People should want to be like me, I think. Well, that's the spectrum. There's there's people who see very few types, and then there's people who want to find types everywhere. The people who want to find types everywhere. When you're if they're seeing more types than me, that feels like they're allegories in the text. I don't see how this is a type. And then there are people who don't see what to me is an obvious type, and they say it can't be a type because it's not identified by a type in the New Testament. So I'll call the people who don't see very many types. I'll call them restrictive typologies, and they'll say a type is only a type if the New Testament explicitly indicates it to be one. And here is the justification for that or what they're seeing. They'll say, yes, there are types in the New Testament. There are types that are identified, but all of the types that are truly types are identified in the New Testament. And the concern appears to me to be this. They think the only way that we can interpret the Bible is through a strict historical grammatical approach. And when the New Testament authors identified types, they were breaking the rules of historical grammatical interpretation. Now, they could do that because they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. One author who talks this way calls it inspired sense of splendor, especially since this, this or is okay if it's inspired by the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit did that with the with the apostles and prophets. But not not for us today. The logic seems to be that the Holy Spirit used the Old Testament authors to plant a finite number of Jesus Easter eggs in the Old Testament. And then He reveals to the New Testament authors where all those Easter eggs are. And so they find them are Hosea 11 one. That's the Jesus Easter egg. Oh, look at Isaiah 7:14. That's the Jesus Easter egg. Oh, look, the death of the infants in Jeremiah. Oh, that's a Jesus Easter egg. Right. And so Matthew finds all of those, and now and they've all been found. There's no use in looking for any more. Well, I'm going to suggest that the New Testament authors actually provide for us the best hermeneutics book that has been written. And they model for us the hermeneutics that Jesus taught them in Luke 24. So I'm going to suggest that we go to them not for an exhaustive list of the Jesus Easter eggs, but we go to them to learn how they found Jesus types. In the Old Testament as they wrote the New Testament. So what? What do we look for? Here are some essential elements of types. First resemblance. There must be some notable and genuine resemblance or analogy between the Old Testament form or idea, the type and the New Testament fulfillment, the anti type In the anti type. We will always find something higher and more noble than in the type. So resemblance and also heightened analogy. Now, that doesn't mean that there's going to be resemblance at all points. Jesus was the Lamb of God. He is the Passover lamb. He didn't have wool. He didn't look like a lamb. He was a living being. He looks like a lamb in this way. He was offered as a sacrifice for sin. There's a lot of resemblance there. Even if there are two different species of living beings. Second, divine intention, there must be evidence that the type was divine was designed and appointed by God to represent the thing typified. So if you want to have a type, it has to do more than just resemble. We have to be confident that it was designed to resemble the thing in the future. Usually that's Jesus and then pre figuration. It has to come in the future as well. So. Divine intervention. Does the text call it a type, or is there evidence that the resemblance is not coincidental? A future referent, the anti type is always in the future. Heightened analogy. The the anti type is always greater than the type. Of course Jesus is usually the anti type and so Jesus is always greater. So that's pretty easy. And then the predominant tip and logical connection explicitly identified in the New Testament is between the redemptive ceremonial ism of the Old Testament and Jesus Christ. So a type will have something to do with Jesus. Now in that, again, I'm not saying anything remarkable because pretty much the whole Bible's about Jesus anyway, so these aren't really difficult tests. What kind of types are there? Well, here are some that are found in the New Testament. There are persons their lives illustrate some great principle or truth of redemption. So Adam, for example, is a type of Christ. It's he's explicitly identified as one because Jesus is called the second Adam in Romans 5:14 yet death reign from Adam to Moses even over those who sending was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one to come there for restrictive typologies. That's one of those Jesus Easter eggs. We have a first Adam and a second Adam second Adam's way greater than the first Adam. The first Adam failed. The father of a people the second Adam succeeds. The father, in a sense of a new people, corporate bodies, is another example. In Matthew two, verse 15, we read this. It's the story of of of that of Herod the Butcher of Bethlehem. That Jesus and his family remained in Egypt until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the Prophet out of Egypt. I called my son. So there's that. Israel in Egypt was a type of Christ who was to come and is identified as such. Another type that's identified in the Bible events where there's an analogical relationship between a biblical event and then a future event in First Corinthians Chapter ten, Christian believers who engage in immorality are warned by the judgment on Israel. They're saying you don't want to be the anti type for this. Matthew Chapter two verses 17 and 18 that the death of all the children in Bethlehem is, is the fulfillment of what was spoken by the prophet. Jeremiah says a voice was heard in Rama, weeping in loud lamentation. Rachael weeping for her children. She refused to be comforted because they are no more. So the destruction of children in Bethlehem in the past becomes a type for this future destruction that is brought about by Herod as he seeks to destroy the Christ Child. Institutions. These are practices that prefigure later events in salvation history. So Leviticus, 17:11 The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. And first, Peter one, we read this knowing that you are ransom from the feudal ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but what with what? The precious blood of Christ like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. The sacrificial system typified Christ's death on the cross. Later on, the new test will tell us. In the Book of Hebrews, The blood and blood of bulls and goats doesn't take away sin. So what was the point of all those Old Testament sacrifices? It was to point to something that actually would one day we understand how Christ's death on the cross atones for sin because we understand what the lambs sacrificed or bulls and goats sacrificed on the altar was supposed to do, but never could. There are offices that are described in the Old Testament prophets, priests, king. All of these are found in Jesus. Moses is the great prophet who in Deuteronomy 18 said, Look for a prophet like me when he comes, listen to him. So Moses is a tribe, is a type of Christ in his in his prophetic office. Melchizedek is a priest. A priest, apart from the the Leviticus line it's in the book of Hebrews says you're a priest forever after the Order of Melchizedek. Talking about Jesus, we might wonder how a person from the tribe of Judah could be our great high priest because he's from the tribe of Melchizedek. Melchizedek typified Jesus. And then King. Well, that one's easy.  David is is the great type of Jesus, So much so that when Jesus shows up, he's called the Son of David, and Jesus is the anti type to David's type. We see actions in the Old Testament that prefigure something. Isaiah walked around naked, barefoot for three years as a sign to Egypt and Ethiopia that Assyria would soon lead them away, naked and barefoot. We see that in Isaiah 20. Remember earlier I said that? I said that it tough, tough work being a prophet. But there's this action that is done, that is it symbolizes, but it really typifies what would happen later. And so there you have it. An anti type in in I in Egypt and Ethiopia being led away barefoot that's the anti type and it's not really Christ but it's it's a fulfillment of that of that kind of lived out parable. There's there's all sorts of of of examples to test the tabernacle perhaps is foreshadowing Christ's incarnation in John 1:14 sacrifices of the ceremonial loss foreshadowing the sacrifices of Christ in in Hebrews ten. The unbroken bones of the sacrificial lamb as a type of Christ. Compare Exodus 12 to John 19 Burning of the sin offering outside the camp as a type of Christ sacrifice. Compare Leviticus 4:12 to Hebrews 13. Abraham as a type not of Christ, but of us. He's a type of all believers justified by faith. Just as we are. One more word on typology and allegory before I finish. House typology different from allegory. Well, I like this quote by Bray, who writes, Typology took history seriously and regarded the Old Testament as a preparation for the coming of Christ. Allegory paid less attention to the historical development of development of divine revelation, preferring to see each stage of it as a window onto another world. Its basic premise was that although Abraham and Moses lived in material circumstances that were quite different from ours, their spiritual experience of God was the same because God does not change. It was the task of the biblical interpreter to penetrate beyond the time bound letter of the text to the eternal message that it contains. I think that's a helpful summary of how typology is different from allegory.