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The Biblical Types and Shadows

The Biblical Types

A type is a divinely purposed illustration of some truth. It may be: (1) a person; (2) an event; (3) a thing; (4) an institution; or (5) a ceremony. Types occur most frequently in the Pentateuch , but are found, more sparingly, elsewhere. The antitype, or fulfillment of the type, is found generally in the New Testament” (Scofield New Reference Bible, p 6).

God uses types like numbers, patterns and shadows as standard symbols to foretell Biblical truth.  They are as much a part of the general scope of prophecy as the written prophecies are themselves.  Along with the written prophecies, number systems and the continuity of truth, they bind the Old Testament to the New Testament and help define the golden thread of scripture.

We must be careful to recognize what makes something is a true type.  They are usually found in the Old Testaments and find their fulfillment in the New Testament – in the person of Jesus Christ.  If we are careful in our study, scripture will affirm types for us.  Many are given as examples, patterns or other forms of divine messages that God wants to communicate to us.  They are inspired in the same way as any other scripture and are intended by God for either admonition or instruction.  Types are predictions which foreshadow what was future at the time of the Old Testament.

Some examples of different forms of types are:

 1.  A person as Adam, Melchizedek, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and David  –  “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come” (Rom 5:14 NKJ).

2.    An Event such as the preservation of Noah, redemption from Egypt, lifting up the brazen serpent, or the sacrifices blessed which were of God –  “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor 10:11 NKJ).

 3.  A Thing is an item such as the tabernacle, the laver, the lamb of sacrifice, Jordan, a city like Babylon –  “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh” (Heb 10:19-20 NKJ).

4.  An Institution such as the Sabbath, animal sacrifice,  Melchizedek’s priesthood, David’s kingdom –  “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.  Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb 9:11-12 NKJ).

5.  A ceremony such as appointments for the service of God –  “Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.”  (1 Cor 5:7 NKJ).  The leaven is a symbol for sin.

•  Adam – A contrasting type of Christ (Rom 5:14-19, 1 Cor 15:22)

•  Coats of Skin – Type of Christ (1 Cor 1:30)

•  Woman – Type of the Church (Eph 5:25-32, 2 Cor 11:2-3, John 3:28-29)

•  The seed of Woman – Type of Christ

•  Enoch – Raptured Saints (Heb 11:5), 1 Th 4:14-17)

•  Ark – Type of Christ.

Note:  References for materials used above are from the Scofield Reference Bible and Chafer’s Systematic Theology.

A Shadow


“In the letter to the Colossians Paul noted that many of the institutions and commands revealed under the Law of Moses were, “things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” Colossians 2:17. The same thrust is found in Hebrews 10:1 “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things”.  In reference to the tabernacle in the Old Testament, the Hebrew writer notes that the Levitical priests served, “a copy and shadow of the heavenly things’” (Hebrews 8:5).

“The term ‘shadow’ means, ‘A reflection, a phantom, a silhouette” (Barclay p. 88).  ‘A glimpse and shadow’ (Rhm); ‘A mere outline and shadow’ (Mof); ‘Only a pattern or reproduction’ (Phi).  The words rendered ‘copy’ and ‘shadow’ are nearly synonymous and are like our English words ‘likeness, copy, and imitation’.  “It may be fairly well detailed, but it is not the original” (Reese p. 127).  ‘Many of the Old Testament institutions were ‘types’ or ‘previews of coming attractions’” (p. 127).

Source: Click on: “Types and Shadows“, Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/503-644-9017

Another good source: Click to see: “Shadows Of Good Things To Come” “.

For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things… Heb 10:1″