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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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This word is not frequently used in Scripture; but what it signifies is supposed to be very frequently implied. We usually consider a type as an example, pattern, or general similitude to a person, event, or thing which is to come: and in this it differs from a representation, memorial, or commemoration of an event, &c, which is past. The Spirit of God has adopted a variety of means to indicate his perfect foreknowledge of all events, and his power to control them. This is sometimes declared by express verbal prophecy; sometimes by specific actions performed by divine command; and sometimes by those peculiar events, in the lives of individuals, and the history or religious observances of the Israelites, which were caused to bear a designed reference to some parts of the Gospel history. The main point, says Chevallier, in an inquiry into these historical types, is to establish the fact of a preconcerted connection between the two series of events. No similarity, in itself, is sufficient to prove such a correspondence. Even those recorded in Scripture are recorded under very different circumstances. If the first event be declared to be typical, at the time when it occurs, and the second correspond with the prediction so delivered, there can be no doubt that the correspondence was designed. If, before the occurrence of the second event, there be delivered a distinct prophecy, that it will happen, and will correspond with some previous event; the fulfilment of the prophecy furnishes an intrinsic proof, that the person who gave it spake by divine inspiration. It may not, from this fact, follow, that the two events were connected by a design formed before either of them occurred; but it certainly does follow, that the second event, in some measure, had respect to the first; and that whatever degree of connection was, by such a prophet, assumed to exist, did really exist. If, again, no specific declaration be made, respecting the typical character of any event or person, until after the second event has occurred, which is then declared to have been prefigured; the fact of preconcerted connection will rest solely upon the authority of the person who advances the assertion. But, if we know, from other sources, that his words are the words of truth, our only inquiry will be, if he either distinctly asserts, or plainly infers, the existence of a designed correspondence. The fact, then, of a preconcerted connection between two series of events, is capable of being established in three ways: and the historical types may be accordingly arranged in three principal divisions. Some of them afford intrinsic evidence, that the Scriptures, which record them, are given by inspiration of God; the others can be proved to exist only by assuming that fact: but all, when once established, display the astonishing power and wisdom of God; and the importance of that scheme of redemption, which was ushered into the world with such magnificent preparations. In contemplating this wonderful system we discern one great intention interwoven, not only into the verbal prophecies and extraordinary events of the history of the Israelites, but into the ordinary transactions of the lives of selected individuals, even from the creation of the world. Adam was "the figure of him that was to come," Romans 5:14 . Melchisedec was "made like unto the Son of God," Hebrews 7:3 . Abraham, in the course of events in which he was engaged by the especial command of Heaven, was enabled to see Christ's day, John 8:56; and Isaac was received from the dead "in a figure," Hebrews 11:19 . At a later period, the paschal lamb was ordained to be sacrificed, not only as a memorial of the immediate deliverance, which it was instituted to procure and to commemorate, but also as a continued memorial of that which was to be "fulfilled in the kingdom of God," Luke 22:16 . Moses was raised up to deliver the people of Israel; to be to them a lawgiver, a prophet, a priest; and to possess the regal authority, if not the title of king. But, during the early period of his life, he was himself taught, that one great prophet should be raised up like unto him; before his death he delivered the same prophecy to the people; and, after that event, the Israelites continually looked for that faithful prophet, who should return answer to their inquiries, 1Ma_4:46; 1Ma_14:41 . Their prophets all pointed to some greater lawgiver, who should introduce a new law into their hearts, and inscribe them upon their minds, Jeremiah 31:33 . The whole people of Israel were also made, in some instances, designedly representative of Christ: and the events, which occurred in their national history, distinctly referred to him. During their wanderings in the wilderness, God left not himself without witness, which should bear reference to the great scheme of the Gospel. They ate spiritual meat. It was an emblem of the true bread of life, which came down from heaven, John 6:39 . "They drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ," 1 Corinthians 10:4 . They were destroyed of serpents; and a brazen serpent was lifted up on a pole, that whosoever looked might live. It was a sensible figure of the Son of man, who was in like manner to be lifted up; "that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life," John 3:15 . Beside, their religious ordinances were only "a figure for the time then present,"

Hebrews 9:9 . Their tabernacle was made after the pattern of heavenly things, Hebrews 8:5; Exodus 25:9; Exodus 25:40; and was intended to prefigure the "greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands,"

Hebrews 9:11 . The high priest was a living representative of the great "High Priest of our profession," Hebrews 3:1 : and the Levitical sacrifices plainly had respect to the one great sacrifice for sins. Joshua the son of Nun represented Jesus in name: and by his earthly conquests in some measure prefigured the heavenly triumphs of his Lord. In a subsequent period, David was no indistinct type of "the Messiah the Prince," Daniel 9:25 , for a long time humbled, and at length triumphant over his enemies. And the peaceable dominion of Solomon prefigured that eternal rest and peace, which remaineth to the people of God. In a still later age, the miraculous preservation of the Prophet Jonah displayed a sign, which was fulfilled in the resurrection of Christ. And when the temple was rebuilt, Joshua, the son of Josedech, the high priest, and his fellows, were set forth as "men of sign," representatives of the Branch, which should, in the fulness of time, be raised up to the stem of Jesse, Zechariah 3:8; Isaiah 11:1 . The illustration, then, to be derived from the historical types of the Old Testament, is found diffused over the whole period, which extends from the creation of the world, to the time when vision and prophecy were sealed. And all the light, which emanates from so many various points, is concentrated in the person of Christ.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Type'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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