If I had to summarize typology simply and briefly, this is how I’d do it.
- Typology is not…
- Allegory is not directly concerned with the meaning of the text. It’s interested in a spiritual or moral meaning that goes beyond the text.
- Allegory is not directly concerned with the significance of the historical realities. It’s interested in ascribing spiritual meanings to these historical realities.
- Making connections between obscure and insignificant details.
- Typology is best understood as a “prophetic paradigm” – A type is a historical event, person, or institution in the storyline of scripture that serves as an anticipatory (“prophetic”) model/pattern (“paradigm”) for a greater reality (antitype) in God’s story of salvation.
- Typology is rooted in…
- The overarching storyline of scripture – These Biblical events, persons, and institutions occur within the storyline of scripture. This story takes place within the context of the covenants, is propelled forward by covenant promises, and therefore has a built in sense of anticipation as the story heads towards fulfillment. Therefore, these Biblical persons, events, and institutions have a special significance as they occur in God’s unfolding plan of salvation with the anticipation of its climax.
- God’s nature (e.g., His sovereignty, omniscience, etc.) and a theological understanding of history – God’s providence over and guidance of history means that history is significant. These historical events, persons, and institutions should be understood as intentionally designed and revelatory.
- God’s unchanging character – Since God is consistently true to His character, God’s previous actions, institutions, and appointed individuals/offices reveal something of His unchanging character as it relates to God’s future actions, institutions, and individuals/offices.