Volume. XXXV, No. 11
Sunday, 13 September 2020

Typology (Part 2)

Fairbairn writes that there are two stipulations when it comes to types. He writes that “in the character, action or institution which is denominated by the type, there must be a resemblance in form and spirit to what answers to it under the Gospel.”[1] Furthermore, Fairbairn writes that the character, action or institution must have “their ordination by God, and were designed by Him to foreshadow and prepare for better things of the Gospel.”2 In Luke 24:27, Jesus made it clear to His disciples on the road to Emmaus that everything in the Bible “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”


Fairbairn’s Typology of Scripture provides a very vivid picture of Israel and her history, actions, and institutions as a type for Christ and His actions. All of these elements serve as a prefigure of what was to come. In his book, Fairbairn shows us how the progression of the Old Testament from the Garden of Eden to the time of Israel theocracy (from Adam to Noah, to Abraham and the other fathers, to the Hebrews, to their slavery in Egypt and Moses, to their deliverance, to their time in the wilderness, to their religious institutions, to their conquest of the Promised Land, to their theocracy) as types for Christ and His works. There is a recurring theme of grace and deliverance and judgements in the progression.


Select Types

We shall now look at a few types that are in the Old Testament and their corresponding anti-types. These types are the ones commonly used by preachers, and they normally raise no or few questions with regards to its interpretation.


  1. Adam as a type for Christ

“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” 1 Corinthians 15:45-49.


In these verses, Paul is telling the Corinthians that Adam is the types for Christ. Adam is described as the “first man” and a “living soul,” while Christ is a “quickening spirit.” Paul also writes that Adam is from the Earth and natural, while Christ is from heaven and spiritual. Ultimately, he compares between the earthly and the heavenly. While he contrasts between the two, it is clear here that he is referring Adam to Christ.


Here, Paul is quoting from Genesis, on the origin of Adam. Adam was the first man, created by God. He makes a comparison between Adam and Christ, because they are definitely different. The first Adam falls into sin, while the second One is sinless. The first is described as earthly, while the second heavenly. However, Paul’s point in using Adam as a type for Christ is that just like in Adam was man and creation created, in Jesus man and creation will get a renewal. Discussion of the contrast between Adam and Christ (mentioned earlier in v. 22) is resumed here. David Lowery writes that “Adam exemplified the earthly (v. 40) natural…The last Adam, Christ, exemplifies the heavenly spiritual body (15:22) which those who belong to Him (v. 23; cf. 2:15) will likewise assume at His coming from heaven (cf. Phil. 3:20–21). The full harvest will be like the firstfruits (1 Cor. 15:23; cf. Col. 1:18).”3


The theme here is the relationship between man and God. In this chapter, Paul is trying to rebut some false teaching denying the resurrection of the dead, and to teach the Corinthians that believers will be resurrected. In the Old Testament we see that Adam was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and that His creation was all “very good” (Genesis 1:31.) Man and God had a perfect relationship before sin. But with the Fall, that perfect relationship was broken. Therefore, Paul is using this type to tell us that with the second or last Adam, the relationship between man and God is restored, and with that restoration we will have resurrected bodies.


Paul in Romans 5:12-14 reiterates this point and says that “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have 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 them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of Him that was to come.” The word “figure” here “typos, refers to Adam’s role as a representative for humanity. This sets a pattern for the one who is to come—Jesus Christ.”4 (This word is translated as “type” in the NAS Bible.) The reading of the type and anti-type here should leave no doubt for us. Paul specifically refers to a person, Adam, as a figure for Christ.


  1. Jonah as a type for Christ

Nowhere else in the Bible is a type more apparent than in Jonah. Jonah is seen as a type for Christ for his being called to preach the news of repentance (Jonah 1:1-2.) He was then “in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights” (1:17), which typified Jesus resurrected on the third day.


This, however, is the extent to which the type should be allowed. The remaining of the narrative in Jonah could be found quite contrary to the characteristics of Jesus. While Jonah initially ran away (Jonah 1:3), and then complained to God about salvation coming to his enemies the Ninevites (Jonah 4:1-3), Jesus never grumbled. As a matter of fact, Jesus prayed that “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42) and He was “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8.)


This is yet another example of how the pattern is consistent throughout the Bible, and yet we should not be imbued into the details and therefore undermining the truth being communicated. Case in point here is Jonah’s missions from God to preach the message of repentance, just as Jesus was sent by God for man’s salvation.


1 Fairbairn, Typology of Scripture: Two Volumes in One, 46.

2 Idem.

3 David K. Lowery, “1 Corinthians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 545.

4 John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), Ro 5:14.

To be continued…………



More Lively Hope



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