Category Archives: Typology

Were Old Testament People Saved? – Examining the Biblical Narrative, Part 2


Part 2

As we have seen in the previous 2 posts (part 1 and video critique), the Lord has progressively revealed His plan of redemption throughout the Scriptures beginning in Genesis 3:15 with the promised Seed of the woman. Thankfully, we are not held in darkness wondering who this Seed might be, otherwise we would still be scratching our heads as to when the Messiah might show up on the scene (see modern Judaism).

The mystery has now been fully revealed to us (see Eph. 3). God, in His infinite wisdom has chosen to progressively reveal His plan of salvation from infant or seed form found in the beginning of Genesis to the more mature revelation of His Son Jesus Christ, tree form if you will, through His incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension. The plan never changed and the substance of that plan never changed, nor was it ever disrupted.

Frequently, those who hold the view we defined earlier and saw in the video by Dr. Randy White, fail to see how people in the OT were saved because they place far too much discontinuity in the Scriptures and hold the OT in isolation from the NT. This simply cannot be and often leads to erroneous assumptions. God’s revelation must be allowed to progress and most-often the latter revelation helps interpret the earlier revelation. This is referred to as the analogy of Scripture, or the rule that Scripture interprets Scripture and it is critical for understanding the meaning of God’s Word.

While there is certainly benefit in trying to determine the meaning of a particular passage in its given context, i.e. author, audience, time period, culture, etc. we simply cannot bury our heads in the sand and pretend to be ignorant about the rest of God’s Word, which may provide greater insight and additional revelation on a particular passage. As mentioned, holding a passage in strict isolation has led to many doctrinal errors throughout church history. We have been given a complete revelation, one that has progressed throughout redemptive history and we must allow its internal unity and clarity to aid in our interpretation.

By observing how latter revelation illumines prior revelation in those passages quoted in the part 1 post, we can see clearly that the seed promised in Genesis 3:15 is developed throughout the immediate unfolding of the New Testament. Evidence of this can be found in those oft-neglected genealogies of the Gospels.

Such an example may be found in Luke 3:23-38 which traces Christ’s ancestry directly through David, to Judah, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, and ultimately to Adam. Luke’s purpose in doing so is to show the universality of Christ in relation to mankind by tracing Him back to the beginning of man, and likewise to emphasize the fulfillment of the promised Seed.

The promise from Genesis 3 has several NT allusions most notably by the Apostle Paul, writing in his epistle to the Romans where he speaks specifically of the skull-crushing seed of the woman in chapter 16, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” Here we see “seed” in reference to a collective, or plural seed, namely those who are the seed of Christ, united to Him by faith. This does not negate the implication that Christ is the seed of the woman, but gives us a fuller picture of all those who are the seed of the woman (with Christ as our Head; see Romans 5) versus the seed of the serpent (which began with Cain;see 1 John 3:8). Similarly, in Galatians 4:4 we have the statement “born of a woman”, an allusion to Genesis 3 also, but more specifically Revelation 12:1-6 where we find the seed of the woman who was to bare a male child who would rule the nations with a rod of iron. In this passage, her and her Seed are under assault by the dragon continuing the “enmity” between the two seeds which was promised by God in Genesis 3:15.  A strong argument could be made that the entire earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ has been collapsed into this passage.[1]

But there is more to be said.

As alluded to earlier, God’s redemptive plan through the seed of the woman was progressively revealed such that the focus becomes clearer as His arrival nears. To be expected, further development of the seed concept occurred with the promises given to Abraham, particularly in Genesis 12, 13, 15, 17, and 22, as we saw in the first post of this series. Consequently, the New Testament has more to say regarding this specific promise, particularly in the Epistle to the Galatians.

Here we find the Apostle making several interesting references to Abraham in Genesis. First, in Galatians 3:7-9 (Genesis 12:3) we read, Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” Notice what the Apostle Paul calls the reference to Genesis 12:3; he calls it the Gospel. As seen later in this passage from Genesis 12, this promise of blessing through Abraham becomes clearer as the promise narrows to Abraham’s “seed” as the source of blessing. In this passage however, the inspired author makes the connection between Abraham’s seed and those who have faith, equating them to the spiritual offspring of Abraham, whether ethnic Jew or Gentile.

Next, in Galatians 3:15-20 (Genesis 12:7) we read, 15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.” Here the reference is to Genesis 12 again, as in the previous use by Paul in Galatians. This time however it is without question who the “seed” or “offspring” spoken of in Genesis is referring to. Paul states explicitly that this is Christ. Summarizing his argument here, Paul sees the promises made to Abraham in Genesis 12 as being made to Abraham and to Christ and all those who are in Christ are Abraham’s offspring (seed) collectively.

Which bring us to Galatians 3:29, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” As we saw in the previous post, Abraham believed the promises of God and it was counted to him as righteousness. As the lens of the gospel comes into clear view in the Newer Testament, we can see that those promises from the Old Testament were implicitly speaking of Christ, who would come from the lineage of Abraham and become heir to the promises Himself. Therefore all those who are united to Christ by faith and repentance subsequently become co-heirs with Christ of the promises made to Abraham, whether Jew or Gentile. As Paul explicitly states, it was nothing less than the Gospel that was preached to Abraham and he believed!

There is much more to say regarding Abraham, but for now, let us move on to the promise of a royal seed given to David 2 Samuel 7:8-17 which was introduced last time. This promised Seed is clearly revealed through Peter’s sermon at Pentecost found in Acts 2. Note specifically the following section, 29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand,35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Acts 2:29-35 Clearly, Peter makes the connection between the promise of a royal Seed, found in the passage from 2 Samuel, and the Lord Jesus Christ, even to the point of stating that he has now ascended to the right hand of the Father where He rules and reigns (presently I might add).

What perfect continuity there is in God’s Word from the Old Testament promises and anticipation to the New Testament fulfillment in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ!

From the beginning there was always the promise of Christ. Therefore any faith in the promise of the coming seed is implicitly faith in Christ. Simply because Adam and Eve, or even subsequent generations, may not have known the name of Jesus or may not have known the details of His death and resurrection, or propitiatory sacrifice as in the video we saw, in no way invalidates their faith or makes it inferior. It simply means that by faith they embraced the promise that God had revealed in the manner He had chosen to reveal it at that time. Note the words of Simeon in Luke 2:28-32 “he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” Simeon’s faith was anticipatory, meaning it was looking forward to the coming of Messiah, just like those we have already looked at. Can anyone rightly say that his faith was misplaced simply because he lived prior to Christ’s death on the cross? Surely not.

Simply because we have the advantage of knowing that this promise reaches its fulfillment through the coming of The Seed Jesus Christ, as we look backward to the cross, does not make our faith superior and that of Abraham or David inferior, but it does make us more accountable for the amount of light and revelation that has been given to us. It was therefore sufficient for Adam, Eve, and subsequent generations, as it is for us now having seen the fulfillment of this promise in Christ, that faith placed in the seed of the woman is clearly faith placed in Christ.

I close with two summary questions from the Heidelberg Catechism

Question 19: From where do you know this?

Answer: From the holy gospel, which God Himself first revealed in Paradise.[1] Later, He had it proclaimed by the patriarchs[2] and prophets,[3] and foreshadowed by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law.[4] Finally, He had it fulfilled through His only Son.[5]

[1] Gen. 3:15. [2] Gen. 12:3; 22:18; 49:10. [3] Is. 53; Jer. 23:5, 6; Mic. 7:18-20; Acts 10:43; Heb. 1:1. [4] Lev. 1:7; John 5:46; Heb. 10:1-10. [5] Rom. 10:4; Gal. 4:4, 5; Col. 2:17.

Question: Are all men, then, saved by Christ just as they perished through Adam?

Answer: No. Only those are saved who by a true faith are grafted into Christ and accept all His benefits.[1]

[1] Matt. 7:14; John 1:12; 3:16, 18, 36; Rom. 11:16-21.

What a glorious gospel!

“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” 2 Corinthians 1:20



Jacob’s Ladder – The Messiah Jesus Christ

A fascinating, yet often confused element to understanding the Bible is the way that the New Testament uses, quotes, or otherwise alludes to the Old Testament.  We’ve seen it in several recent posts, specifically the Apostle John’s quotation by John the Baptist concerning the name Lamb of God, which is packed full of Old Testament nuances, ascribed to Christ.  We needn’t move far from this passage in John 1 before we encounter another strong, clear example of the NT use of the OT, this time from our Lord Jesus Christ.

In John 1:43-51, we find a passage describing the calling of Nathaniel in what might otherwise be an overlooked detail.  However, as is always the case in Scripture, there is much more for us to glean.  Notice the following observations from the passage:

  • Phillips recognition of the promised Messiah (vs. 45)
  • The basis for his recognition is the OT, i.e. “Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote” (vs. 45)
  • Nathaniel’s hesitation to believe without seeing (vs. 46)
  • Jesus’ observation of Nathaniel’s character (vs. 47)
    • Note the contrast with Nathaniel’s statement in vs. 46
  • Nathaniel’s encounter with the Lord (vs. 48-49)
    • He believes
  • Jesus’ promise of better things to come (vs. 50)
  • Angel’s ascending and descending on the Son of Man (vs. 51)
    • A clear reference to the OT, Genesis 28:12

With these general observations made, there are really two that I want to focus on.  First is Philip’s recognition of Jesus in verse 45 and his statement on the expectation of the Old Testament.  When Philip says to Nathaniel, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” what are we to make of this?  Where is he referring to in the OT?  When we read the OT or hear it preached are our thoughts immediately transferred to Christ?  Should they be?

Jesus uses similar language when He meets with His disciples after His death and resurrection.  In Luke 24:27 we read, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself “ and again in Luke 24:44-47 “Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

With this in mind, we can see clearly that the OT anticipation of the coming Messiah was fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ and we can better understand that all of the Old Testament types, shadows, and allusions were pointing toward Him.

Which brings us to the second observation, the reference to Genesis 28:12.  Note the passage from Genesis 28 in context:

10 Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. 12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

18 So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19 He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21 so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, 22 and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”

jacobsladderThis fascinating vision given to Jacob becomes the object upon which Christ draws attention in the passage from John 1.  Jesus asserts that we are not to expect an actual ladder to be constructed from heaven and earth, that was the mistake of those who built the Tower of Babal in Genesis 11 (likely contrasted here in Genesis 28).  Instead, He takes this vision of Jacob and applies it directly to Himself, as a pathway upon which angels will ascend and descend.

Christ is the fulfillment of the OT type seen in Jacob’s dream.  He, and He alone, is the bridge, or ladder, between God and man (or heaven and earth as it were).  Upon Him, i.e. through His person and work, do angel’s ascend and descend as a picture of the access to God the Father that Christ has provided through His life, death, and resurrection.  “…No one comes unto the Father except through me.” John 14:6 It is by way of Christ and no other that access can be granted to God.  He is the only “way, truth, and life.”  Jesus is the better and true ladder of Jacob’s vision, where the glory of the holy God condescends to meet with sinful man.

Behold, The Lamb of God

Behold, The Lamb of God

John 1:29 “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

In the first chapter of John’s Gospel, the Apostle sets the framework for his account of Jesus’ life by turning our attention to the Old Testament.  This is evident in verse 1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” as he brings readers to recall Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”  The idea of God, more specifically Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 1) as Creator is expounded upon by John in verse 3, “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

With one eye focused on the text of John and the other on the Old Testament, the discerning reader will be equipped to not only understand what God’s inspired word says in John, but also how the words of his gospel can inform one’s  understanding of the Old Testament.  This is precisely the case with our subject verse of John 1:29.

John the Baptist is quoted here referring to Jesus as “the Lamb of God”.  With our attention already keenly cast on the use of the OT in this first chapter of John (the Apostle), we should immediately began recalling where, if anywhere, we may have encountered an OT reference like this.  For those unfamiliar with the OT, most good Bible’s have a cross-reference system either in the center column or the margins of their pages.  If used properly, these can prove to be invaluable.

Using either recall or your cross-references, you may find that when John uses the title “the Lamb of God” he likely has Exodus 12 in mind.  Turning to this passage of the Old Testament, we find ourselves in the context of the Israelite captivity in Egypt and the implementation of plagues upon Pharaoh.  The final plague is promised in chapter 11,

“So Moses said, ‘Thus says the LORD: About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the cattle. There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again. But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. And all these your servants shall come down to me and bow down to me, saying, ‘Get out, you and all the people who follow you.’ And after that I will go out.’ And he went out from Pharaoh in hot anger. Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Pharaoh will not listen to you, that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.’”

It is with this context in mind that we read of the Passover Lamb in Exodus 12.  God instructs Moses to tell all the congregation to acquire a lamb, without blemish (Ex. 12:5) for sacrifice.  The people were instructed to kill their lambs at twilight on the specified day.  They were to sprinkle its blood on the doorposts and the lintel, then roast and eat the flesh.  When God passed through the land of Egypt to enact judgment through the death of their firstborn (both man and beast), He would, “see the blood” and “pass over” the house.  This is where the memorial feast of Passover got its name.

There is more we could glean from this OT passage, but for now our understanding of John’s use of “Lamb of God” in John 1:29 is better informed.  Likewise, this imagery of a lamb is again used in Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”  Additionally, the requirement of God to Moses that the lamb should be without spot or blemish is recounted in 1 Peter 1:19, “but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

Reading the OT by itself can often provide a limited picture of understanding.  Yes, they can be understood in their context, i.e. we can read of God requiring the Israelites to slaughter a lamb and sprinkle the blood, but without allowing the New Testament to inform our understanding of the OT, we miss out on a lot of key passages pertaining to Christ and run in danger of misinterpretation.

Passages such as these, where a person, place, event, or institution points or alludes to another person, place, event, or institution use what is called typology.  It commonly occurs between the OT and NT and provides continuity between the two, particularly as it relates to God’s plan of redemption.  In our case here, the Passover lamb is the type and John’s reference to Jesus as the “Lamb of God” makes Jesus the antitype.  Another common use of typology involves what is called the archetype.  An example of this would be the “pattern on the mountain” (Ex. 25:9; Heb. 8:5) that God shows Moses for construction of the tabernacle.  This pattern was the heavenly temple of God (Rev. 11:19, and would be the archetype.  We know this because Moses constructed the tabernacle and Solomon eventually the temple, both of which would be the type.  What then is the antitype, or the greater temple?  It is Jesus.  In Matthew 12:6 Jesus says, “I tell you, something greater than the temple is here” and in John 2:19 He says, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”  According to John 2:21-22, we know that this was indeed a reference to Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The New Testament is filled with rich references to the Old Testament such as this one from John 1:29.  Far from breezing through the Bible, it pays to take time and study, use cross references, and meditate on God’s Word.  Doing so will allow for a greater understanding of God’s Word, fuller revelation of Himself, and cause for worshipping God who in His infinite wisdom has determined the beginning from the end.