Typology refers to the study of correspondences between persons, events, and institutions within the historical framework of God's acts. It rests upon the conviction that God has sovereignly ordered history such that God's past actions serve as a pattern for his future actions. The first event/person/institution is referred to as a "type," while the latter is the "antitype."

Although typology has been abused by some, it's use in the NT demonstrates that it is a legitimate way of seeing connections between the Old and the New Testaments. Typology is not about finding obscure connections between OT events and NT realities, such as arguing that the scarlet thread hung in Rahab's window points to the blood of Christ (Joshua 2:21). Instead, typology tends to work on the macro-level. In other words, it is connected with major events, people and institutions in the unfolding story of God. A helpful guideline in testing whether a possible type is in fact legitimate is to ask how closely that type is related to the central message of the passage. If it is a small detail that is not very closely related to the main point of the passage, it is unlikely to be a legitimate or significant type.

Biblical Storyline

The chart lays out some of the most significant "macro-types" that occur in the biblical storyline.* The first column ("OT Salvation History") lists the event, person or institution from the storyline of the Old Testament. The second column ("Prophetic Eschatology") indicates the way the OT looks forward to the greater realization of the original reality. In the third column ("Fulfillment in Christ") describes the fulfillment of the Old Testament reality in and through the person and work of Jesus Christ. It should be noted that this list is not comprehensive, but rather representative.

OT Salvation History Prophetic Eschatology Fulfillment in Christ
God and his creation God will bring in a new creation Jesus is God the Creator.
He is the firstborn of all creation.
All things were created by
him, through him, in him
and for him. He is the new
creation, and brings the new
creation as the goal of all
God's redemptive purpose.
Human beings are made from
the earth; the breath of God is
breathed into them.
God will raise a renewed people for
himself and give them his Spirit.
Jesus is fully human, and in
that sense is part of the
created order. He is the
perfectly Spirit-endowed
Eden is the focus of man's
dominion over the beasts and
the rest of creation.
The kingdom will be a new Eden.
The people of God will have
dominion over creation and the
Jesus is the place where God
and man meet. He has
dominion as the last Adam:
nature miracles, being with
the wild beasts.
Fall and judgment. Final judgment will come on those
who do not receive the grace of God.
Jesus was made to be sin for
us. He suffered the wrath of
God and the curse of the
covenant for us on the cross.
Redemption; which includes
the following dimensions

Covenant & calling

Promises of land, people, great
name, blessings to the nations

Captivity and release in the

Prophetic word.
God will redeem Israel and restore

A new covenant will take the place of
the old.

The people of God will return to the
promised land and be great. The
nations will come to share in the
kingdom of Zion.

The captivity will lead to a
redemptive release that amounts to a
second exodus.

God will raise up a new prophet
Jesus redeems the whole of
creation, not merely souls.

Jesus is the true partner of
God; the faithful Son of God,
the Seed of Abraham, Son of


OT Salvation History OT Salvation History Fulfillment in Christ
Law structures the life of the
The law will be written on the hearts
of God’s people.
Jesus fulfills the law and
establishes the structure of
the life of the community
of the redeemed.
Redemptive worship, priests
and tabernacles.
A new temple will be the focus of
worship and fellowship with God.
Jesus fulfills the worship of
Israel, above all by being the
new temple and the true
priest who offers himself as
the one true sacrifice for sin.
Entry and possession of the
The people of God will return from
the nations to the land of promise.
Jesus gains entry through his
resurrection and ascension
into the inheritance of the
people of God. He conquers
all the powers that resist the
coming of the kingdom of
God. By being the place
where God meets his people,
he fulfills the meaning of the
Nationhood involving judges,
prophets, kings, wise men.
A new nation will emerge with all the
offices of rule and worship.
A new nation of the people of
God is established in Christ.
He is the true prophet,
priest, king and wise man.
Kingship and temple; Davidic
There will be a new David and a
new temple.
Jesus, the King and true Son
of David, is also the new
temple where God and
mankind meet.
Solomon and national decline. The Davidic line that failed under
Solomon will be reinstated.
Jesus takes the consequences
of all the failures of his
people by fulfilling in himself
all that God requires of them.
Destruction of Israel and exile. The exile into Babylon will lead to a
redemptive act.
Jesus goes into exile for his
people so that he can lead
them out of captivity.
Prophetic ministries:
indictment, judgment, promises
of restoration
Prophetic ministries: indictment,
judgment, promises of restoration.
Jesus is the true prophet who
judges the world, yet at the
same time he brings the
words of grace and
redemption for all who put
their trust in him. He defines
the fulfillment of the
prophetic promises.
Return and continued rebellion. Post-exilic prophets interpret the
continued rebellion of Israel
The failures of Israel's return
from exile are all dealt with
in the true return of the true
Israel. The consummation
shows that all rebellion is
finally to be dealt with.

Dr. Matt Harmon is Professor of New Testament studies at Grace College and Theological Seminary in Indiana. He blogs his notes and teaching about Biblical Theology.

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