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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


1. Definition of Type

2. Distinctive Features

3. Classification of Types

4. How Much of the Old Testament Is Typical?


The Bible furnishes abundant evidence of the presence of types and of typical instruction in the Sacred Word. The New Testament attests this fact. It takes up a large number of persons and things and events of former dispensations, and it treats them as adumbrations and prophecies of the future. A generation ago a widespread interest in the study of typology prevailed; latterly the interest has largely subsided, chiefly because of the vagaries and extravagances which attended its treatment on the part of not a few writers. Pressing the typical teaching of Scripture so far as to imperil the historical validity of God's word is both dangerous and certain to be followed by reaction and neglect of the subject.

1. Definition of Type:

The word "type" is derived from a Greek term tupos, which occurs 16 times in the New Testament. It is variously translated in the King James Version, e.g. twice "print" (John 20:25); twice "figure" (Acts 7:43 Romans 5:14); twice "pattern" (Titus 2:7 Hebrews 8:5); once "fashion" (Acts 7:44); once "manner" (Acts 23:25); once "form" (Romans 6:17); and 7 t example" (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11 Philippians 3:17 1 Thessalonians 1:7 2 Thessalonians 3:9 1 Timothy 4:12 1 Peter 5:3). It is clear from these texts that the New Testament writers use the word "type" with some degree of latitude; yet one general idea is common to all, namely, "likeness." A person, event or thing is so fashioned or appointed as to resemble another; the one is made to answer to the other in some essential feature; in some particulars the one matches the other. The two are called type and antitype; and the link which binds them together is the correspondence, the similarity, of the one with the other.

Three other words in the New Testament express the same general idea. One is "shadow" (skia, Hebrews 10:1), "For the law having a shadow of the good things to come"-as if the substance or reality that was still future cast its shadow backward into the old economy. "Shadow" implies dimness and transitoriness; but it also implies a measure of resemblance between the one and the other.

The 2nd term is "parable" (parabole, Hebrews 9:9); the tabernacle with its services was an acted parable for the time then present, adumbrating thus the blessed reality which was to come.

The 3rd term is "copy." or "pattern" (hupodeigma), a word that denotes a sketch or draft of something future. invisible (Hebrews 9:23); the tabernacle and its furniture and services were copies, outlines of heavenly things.

Types are pictures, object-lessons, by which God taught His people concerning His grace and saving power. The Mosaic system was a sort of kindergarten in which God's people were trained in divine things, by which also they were led to look for better things to come. An old writer thus expresses it: "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."

In creation the Lord uses one thing for many purposes. One simple instrument meets many ends. For how many ends does water serve! And the atmosphere: it supplies the lungs, conveys sound, diffuses odors, drives ships, supports fire, gives rain, fulfills besides one knows not how many other purposes. And God's Word is like His work, is His work, and, like creation, is inexhaustible. Whatever God touches, be it a mighty sun or an insect's wing, a vast prophecy or a little type, He perfects for the place and the purpose He has in mind.

2. Distinctive Features:

What are the distinctive features of a type? A type, to be such in reality, must possess three well-defined qualities.

(1) It must be a true picture of the person or the thing it represents or prefigures. A type is a draft or sketch of some well-defined feature of redemption, and therefore it must in some distinct way resemble its antitype, e.g. Aaron as high priest is a rough figure of Christ the Great High Priest, and the Day of Atonement in Israel (Leviticus 16) must be a true picture of the atoning work of Christ.

(2) The type must be of divine appointment. In its institution it is designed to bear a likeness to the antitype. Both type and antitype are preordained as constituent parts of the scheme of redemption. As centuries sometimes lie between the type and its accomplishment in the antitype, of course infinite wisdom alone can ordain the one to be the picture of the other. Only God can make types.

(3) A type always prefigures something future. A Scriptural type and predictive prophecy are in substance the same, differing only in form. This fact distinguishes between a symbol and a type. A symbol may represent a thing of the present or of the past as well as of the future, e.g. the symbols in the Lord's Supper. A type always looks to the future; an element of prediction must necessarily be in it.

3. Classification of Types:

Another thing in the study of types should be borne in mind, namely, that a thing in itself evil cannot be the type of what is good and pure. It is somewhat difficult to give a satisfactory classification of Biblical types, but broadly they may be distributed under three heads:

(1) Personal types, by which are meant those personages of Scripture whose lives and experiences illustrate some principle or truth of redemption. Such are Adam, who is expressly described as the "figure of him that was to come" (Romans 5:14), Melchizedek, Abraham, Aaron, Joseph, Jonah, etc.

(2) Historical types, in which are included the great historical events that under Providence became striking foreshadowings of good things to come, e.g. the Deliverance from the Bondage of Egypt; the Wilderness Journey; the Conquest of Canaan; the Call of Abraham; Deliverances by the Judges, etc.

(3) Ritual types, such as the Altar, the Offerings, the Priesthood, the Tabernacle and its furniture. There are typical persons, places, times, things, actions, in the Old Testament, and a reverent study of them leads into a thorough acquaintance with the fullness and the blessedness of the word of God.

4. How Much of the Old Testament Is Typical?:

How much of the Old Testament is to be regarded as typical is a question not easily answered. Two extremes, however, should be avoided. First, The extravagance of some of the early Fathers, as Origen, Ambrose, Jerome (revived in our time by Andrew Jukes and his imitators). They sought for types, and of course found them, in every incident and event, however trivial, recorded in Scripture. Even the most simple and commonplace circumstance was thought to conceal within itself the most recondite truth. Mystery and mysticism were seen everywhere, in the cords and pins of the tabernacle, in the yield of herds, in the death of one, in the marriage of another, even in the number of fish caught by the disciples on the night the risen Saviour appeared to them-how much some have tried to make of that number, 153! The very serious objection to this method is, that it wrests Scripture out of the sphere of the natural and the historical and locates it in that of the arbitrary and the fanciful; it tends to destroy the validity and trustworthiness of the record.

Second, the undue contraction of the typical element. "Professor Moses Stuart expresses this view as follows: "Just so much of the Old Testament is to be accounted typical as the New Testament affirms to be so, and no more." This opinion assumes that the New Testament writers have exhausted the types of the Old Testament, while the fact is that those found in the later Scripture are but samples taken from the storehouse where many more are found. If they are not, then nothing is more arbitrary than the New Testament use of types, for there is nothing to distinguish them from a multitude of others of the same class. Further, the view assumes that divine authority alone can determine the reality and import of types-a view that applies with equal force against prophecy. This rule may be safely followed: wherever the three characteristics of types are found which have been already mentioned, there is the type.

Weighty are the words of one equally eminent for his piety as for his learning: "That the Old Testament is rich in types, or rather forms in its totality one type, of the New Testament, follows necessarily from the entirely unique position which belongs to Christ as the center of the history of the world and of revelation. As we constantly see the principle embodied in the vegetable and animal kingdoms, that the higher species are already typified in a lower stage of development, so do we find, in the domain of saving revelation, the highest not only prepared for, but also shadowed forth, by that which precedes in the lower spheres" (Van Oosterzee).


P. Fairbairn, Typology of Scripture, 2 volumes; Angus, The Bible HandBook; Andrew Jukes, Law of Offerings in Leviticus; Mather, Gospel of Old Testament, Explanation of Types; McEwen, Grace and Truth: Types and Figures of the Old Testament; Soltau, Tabernacle, Priesthood and Offerings.

William G. Moorehead

5179. tupos -- typically
... typically. Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine Transliteration: tupos Phonetic Spelling:
(too'-pos) Short Definition: a figure, model, type Definition: (originally ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/5179.htm - 7k

499. antitupos -- struck back, corresponding to
... to. Part of Speech: Adjective Transliteration: antitupos Phonetic Spelling:
(an-teet'-oo-pon) Short Definition: typical of, representing by type or pattern ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/499.htm - 7k

1164. deigma -- a thing shown, specimen
... a thing shown, specimen. Part of Speech: Noun, Neuter Transliteration: deigma Phonetic
Spelling: (digh'-mah) Short Definition: an example, type Definition: an ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/1164.htm - 6k

3789. ophis -- a snake
... Probably from optanomai (through the idea of sharpness of vision); a snake,
figuratively, (as a type of sly cunning) an artful malicious person, especially ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/3789.htm - 6k

2213. zetema -- an inquiry
... 2213 ("a controversial question") focuses on at stake (the ). [2214 (a noun) however
focuses on a particular "brand" (type of) principle working out .]. ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/2213.htm - 7k

4520. sabbatismos -- a sabbath rest
... rest. From a derivative of sabbaton; a "sabbatism", ie (figuratively) the repose
of Christianity (as a type of heaven) -- rest. see GREEK sabbaton. ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/4520.htm - 6k

5196. hubris -- wantonness, insolence, an act of wanton violence
... damage, loss. Cognate: 5196 (a feminine noun) -- that type (brand) of or
where the reproach "." See 5195 (). Word Origin a prim. word ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/5196.htm - 7k

1350. diktuon -- a net
... fishing-net. 1350 -- the term for any type of fishing net (as in Mt
4:20,21; Mk 1:18,19; Lk 5:2,4-6; Jn 21:6,8,11). [1350 () was ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/1350.htm - 6k

444. anthropos -- a man, human, mankind
... Accordingly, the Bible uses 444 () of a specific man, woman, or class (type, group)
of people -- ie (inclusive of every man, woman and child; see also 1 Cor 11 ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/444.htm - 8k

1404. drakon -- a dragon (a mythical monster)
... accomplishing his hellish agenda from ".". [The ancient Greeks classified a
"dragon" (1404 ) as a type of . 1404 ("a dragon") was believed ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/1404.htm - 7k

Strong's Hebrew
2471. challah -- a cake (a type used in offerings)
... 2470b, 2471. challah. 2472 . a cake (a type used in offerings). Transliteration:
challah Phonetic Spelling: (khal-law') Short Definition: cake. ...
/hebrew/2471.htm - 6k

5483a. sus -- a swallow, swift (type of bird)
sus or sus. 5483, 5483a. sus or sus. 5483b . a swallow, swift (type of
bird). Transliteration: sus or sus Short Definition: swallow. ...
/hebrew/5483a.htm - 5k

2464. chelbenah -- gum (a type used in incense)
... 2463, 2464. chelbenah. 2465 . gum (a type used in incense). Transliteration:
chelbenah Phonetic Spelling: (khel-ben-aw') Short Definition: galbanum. ...
/hebrew/2464.htm - 6k

5483. cuwc -- a swallow, swift (type of bird)
... 5482b, 5483. cuwc. 5483a . a swallow, swift (type of bird). Transliteration:
cuwc Phonetic Spelling: (soos) Short Definition: crane. crane, horseback, ...
/hebrew/5483.htm - 5k

6005. Immanuel -- "with us is God," the name of a child
... Immanuel. From im and 'el with a pronominal suffix inserted; with us (is) God; Immanuel,
a type name of Isaiah's son -- Immanuel. see HEBREW im. see HEBREW 'el. ...
/hebrew/6005.htm - 6k


Conformity to Type
... CONFORMITY TO TYPE. "So careful of the type?' but no, ... The Scientific Law
by which this takes place is the Law of Conformity to Type. ...
/.../drummond/natural law in the spiritual world/conformity to type.htm

Of Type and Copy.
... Book I. 19. (4) of Type and Copy. In addition to these meanings there is
that in which we speak of an arche, [4540] according to ...
/.../origen/origens commentary on the gospel of john/19 -4 of type and.htm

Whether the Eternal Law is a Sovereign Type [*Ratio] Existing in ...
... OF THE ETERNAL LAW (SIX ARTICLES) Whether the eternal law is a sovereign
type [*Ratio] existing in God? Objection 1: It would seem ...
/...//christianbookshelf.org/aquinas/summa theologica/whether the eternal law is.htm

The Red Heifer a Type of Christ.
... Chapter VIII."The red heifer a type of Christ. Now what do you suppose
this to be a type of, that a command was given to Israel ...
/.../barnabas/the epistle of barnabas /chapter viii the red heifer a.htm

Moses the Type of Christ.
... SERMON IX. Moses the Type of Christ. "The Lord thy God will raise up unto
thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren ...
/.../newman/parochial and plain sermons vol vii/sermon ix moses the type.htm

Type of those Born under Gemini.
... Book IV. Chapter XVII."Type of Those Born Under Gemini. Those who are
born in Gemini will be of the following description: red ...
/.../hippolytus/the refutation of all heresies/chapter xvii type of those born.htm

Type of those Born under Leo.
... Book IV. Chapter XIX."Type of Those Born Under Leo. Those born in Leo are
of the following description: round head, reddish hair ...
/.../hippolytus/the refutation of all heresies/chapter xix type of those born.htm

Type of those Born under Scorpio.
... Book IV. Chapter XXII."Type of Those Born Under Scorpio. Those born in Scorpio
are of the following description: a maidenish countenance ...
/.../hippolytus/the refutation of all heresies/chapter xxii type of those born.htm

Type of those Born under Pisces.
... Book IV. Chapter XXVI."Type of Those Born Under Pisces. Those born in
Pisces will be of the following description: of moderate ...
/.../hippolytus/the refutation of all heresies/chapter xxvi type of those born.htm

Type of those Born under Cancer.
... Book IV. Chapter XVIII."Type of Those Born Under Cancer. Those born in
Cancer are of the following description: size not large ...
/.../hippolytus/the refutation of all heresies/chapter xviii type of those born.htm

ATS Bible Dictionary

In Greek tupos, a word denoting some resemblance, and translated "figure" in Romans 4:15, "ensample" in Philippians 3:17, "manner" in Acts 23:25, and "form" in Romans 6:17. So also Moses was to make the tabernacle according to the type or model he had seen in the mount, Acts 7:44. In the more general use of the word, a scriptural type is a prophetic symbol, "a shadow of good things to come," Hebrews 10:1, "but the body is Christ," Colossians 2:17. The typical character of the old dispensation is its most distinguishing feature. For Example, the paschal lamb and all the victims sacrificed under the law were types of the Lamb of God, and illustrated his great atonement; showing that guilt deserved death, and could only be atoned for by the blood of an acceptable sacrifice. But they were also intended to foretell the coming of their great Antitype.

The Old Testament types include persons, officers, objects, events, rites, and places. Thus Adam and Melchizedek, the prophetic and the priestly office, manna and the brazen serpent, the smitten rock and the passage over Jordan, the Passover and the Day of Atonement, Canaan and the cities of refuge are scriptural types of Christ.

However striking the points of resemblance which an Old Testament event or object may present to something in the New Testament, it is not properly a type unless it was so appointed by God, and thus has something of a prophetic character. Due care should therefore be taken to distinguish between an illustration and a type.

Easton's Bible Dictionary
Occurs only once in Scripture (1 Corinthians 10:11, A.V. marg.). The Greek word tupos is rendered "print" (John 20:25), "figure" (Acts 7:43; Romans 5:14), "fashion" (Acts 7:44), "manner" (Acts 23:25), "form" (Romans 6:17), "example" or "ensample" (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11; Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:9; 1 Timothy 4:12). It properly means 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, which is called the "antitype."
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (n.) The mark or impression of something; stamp; impressed sign; emblem.

2. (n.) Form or character impressed; style; semblance.

3. (n.) A figure or representation of something to come; a token; a sign; a symbol; -- correlative to antitype.

4. (n.) That which possesses or exemplifies characteristic qualities; the representative.

5. (n.) A general form or structure common to a number of individuals; hence, the ideal representation of a species, genus, or other group, combining the essential characteristics; an animal or plant possessing or exemplifying the essential characteristics of a species, genus, or other group. Also, a group or division of animals having a certain typical or characteristic structure of body maintained within the group.

6. (n.) The original object, or class of objects, scene, face, or conception, which becomes the subject of a copy; esp., the design on the face of a medal or a coin.

7. (n.) A simple compound, used as a mode or pattern to which other compounds are conveniently regarded as being related, and from which they may be actually or theoretically derived.

8. (n.) A raised letter, figure, accent, or other character, cast in metal or cut in wood, used in printing.

9. (n.) Such letters or characters, in general, or the whole quantity of them used in printing, spoken of collectively; any number or mass of such letters or characters, however disposed.

10. (v. t.) To represent by a type, model, or symbol beforehand; to prefigure.

11. (v. t.) To furnish an expression or copy of; to represent; to typify.

12. (n.) A combining form signifying impressed form; stamp; print; type; typical form; representative; as in stereotype phototype, ferrotype, monotype.

Type (12 Occurrences)
... The word "type" is generally used to denote a resemblance between something present
and something future, which is called the "antitype.". ...TYPE. ...
/t/type.htm - 23k

Figure (19 Occurrences)
... 9. (n.) A person, thing, or action, conceived of as analogous to another person,
thing, or action, of which it thus becomes a type or representative. 10. ...
/f/figure.htm - 19k

Apostles (79 Occurrences)
... But no modern editor of the Greek New Testament has given us the Western or the
Alexandrian type of text, though Bornemann, as will presently be shown, argues ...
/a/apostles.htm - 62k

Point (106 Occurrences)
... 26. (n.) A standard unit of measure for the size of type bodies, being one twelfth
of the thickness of pica type. See Point system of type, under Type. 27. ...
/p/point.htm - 40k

Building (249 Occurrences)
... Occasionally a piece of carefully dressed masonry is found, but it is the exception
and is often a re-use of an earlier type akin to "sawed stone" (1 Kings 7:9 ...
/b/building.htm - 47k

... See Goth. 4. (n.) A kind of square-cut type, with no hair lines. 5. (n.) The style
described in Gothic, a., 2. Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia. ...
/g/gothic.htm - 13k

Syrians (63 Occurrences)
... Aramu, Arumu, Arimu): 1. Division of Aram 2. A Semitic Race 3. Syria and Israel
4. Under Nabateans and Palmyrenes 5. A Mixed Race, Semitic Type 6. Religion The ...
/s/syrians.htm - 37k

Earth (10501 Occurrences)
... See also ASTRONOMY, sec. III, 2. HEAVENS, NEW (AND EARTH, NEW). " 1. Eschatological
Idea 2. Earliest Conceptions: Cosmic verses National Type 3. Different from ...
/e/earth.htm - 26k

Heavens (548 Occurrences)
... HEAVENS, NEW (AND EARTH, NEW). " 1. Eschatological Idea 2. Earliest Conceptions:
Cosmic verses National Type 3. Different from Mythological Theory 4. Antiquity ...
/h/heavens.htm - 49k

Lead (192 Occurrences)
... Its specific gravity is 11.37. It is easily fusible, forms alloys with other metals,
and is an ingredient of solder and type metal. Atomic weight, 206.4. ...
/l/lead.htm - 42k

Bible Concordance
Type (12 Occurrences)

Romans 5:14 Yet Death reigned as king from Adam to Moses even over those who had not sinned, as Adam did, against Law. And in Adam we have a type of Him whose coming was still future.

Hebrews 7:3 with no father or mother, and no record of ancestry: having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made a type of the Son of God--this man Melchizedek remains a priest for ever.

Hebrews 8:5 and serve a copy and type of the heavenly things, just as Moses was divinely instructed when about to build the tabernacle. For God said, "See that you make everything in imitation of the pattern shown you on the mountain."

Hebrews 11:19 concluding that God is able to raise up even from the dead. Figuratively speaking, he also did receive him back from the dead.
(See NAS)

1 Chronicles 12:33 Of Zebulun, such as were able to go out in the army, who could set the battle in array, with all manner of instruments of war, fifty thousand, and who could order the battle array, and were not of double heart.
(See NIV)

1 Chronicles 12:37 On the other side of the Jordan, of the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and of the half-tribe of Manasseh, with all manner of instruments of war for the battle, one hundred twenty thousand.
(See NIV)

1 Chronicles 17:17 And this is small in Thine eyes, O God, and Thou speakest concerning the house of thy servant afar off, and hast seen me as a type of the man who is on high, O Jehovah God!

Ezekiel 12:6 Before their eyes on the shoulder thou dost bear, in the darkness thou dost bring forth, thy face thou dost cover, and thou dost not see the earth, for a type I have given thee to the house of Israel.'

Ezekiel 12:11 Say: I 'am' your type; as I have done so it is done to them, into a removal, into a captivity, they do go.

Ezekiel 24:24 And Ezekiel hath been to you for a type, According to all that he hath done ye do; In its coming in -- ye have known that I 'am' the Lord Jehovah.

Ezekiel 24:27 In that day opened is thy mouth with the escaped, And thou speakest, and art not silent any more, And thou hast been to them for a type. And they have known that I 'am' Jehovah.'

Zechariah 3:8 Hear, I pray thee, Joshua, the high priest, Thou and thy companions sitting before thee, (For men of type 'are' they,) For lo, I am bringing in My servant -- a Shoot.



Related Terms

Figure (19 Occurrences)

Apostles (79 Occurrences)

Point (106 Occurrences)

Building (249 Occurrences)


Syrians (63 Occurrences)

Earth (10501 Occurrences)

Heavens (548 Occurrences)

Lead (192 Occurrences)

Letter (112 Occurrences)


Face (780 Occurrences)

Pi (3 Occurrences)


Print (3 Occurrences)

Form (153 Occurrences)

Melchizedek (12 Occurrences)

Seal (47 Occurrences)

Build (242 Occurrences)

Altar (343 Occurrences)

Money (284 Occurrences)

Shinar (8 Occurrences)


Justify (19 Occurrences)


Galley (1 Occurrence)

Italic (1 Occurrence)

Representative (10 Occurrences)

Ethiopia (26 Occurrences)

Matter (263 Occurrences)

Bearer (23 Occurrences)

Cancel (4 Occurrences)

Ass (95 Occurrences)

Balaam (62 Occurrences)

Latin (2 Occurrences)


Printed (2 Occurrences)


Allegory (6 Occurrences)

Truth (380 Occurrences)

Speakest (30 Occurrences)

Hittites (39 Occurrences)

Abel (22 Occurrences)

Weaving (4 Occurrences)

Proverbs (11 Occurrences)

Set (6715 Occurrences)



Job (60 Occurrences)

General (9 Occurrences)


Canaan (102 Occurrences)



Text (5 Occurrences)

Priest (500 Occurrences)

Weights (14 Occurrences)

Canaanites (63 Occurrences)


Faith (769 Occurrences)

Measures (50 Occurrences)

Stephen (13 Occurrences)

Mouth (534 Occurrences)

Sacrifice (300 Occurrences)

Abstinence (2 Occurrences)


Egypt (596 Occurrences)


Malefactor (2 Occurrences)


Abraham (2539 Occurrences)

Acts (271 Occurrences)


Book (211 Occurrences)


Doctrine (52 Occurrences)


Zeruiah (25 Occurrences)

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