Friday, October 28, 2016

The Necessity of Typological Exegesis: Refuting the Annihilationist "Mention-of-Expansion" Rule

by Hiram R. Diaz III
New Testament Interpretation of the Old Testament
When challenged with classic traditionalist proof-texts like Mark 9:42-50 and Revelation 14:9-11, annihilationists often respond by claiming that the passages do not signify anything other than the death and extinction of the wicked. Glenn Peoples, for instance, claims that Isaiah 66:24, which Christ quotes in part in Mark 9:42-50, “clearly does not indicate eternal torment but actually indicates annihilation.”[1] Similarly, when discussing the imagery of worms in Isaiah and Mark, Chris Date argues that “the imagery depicts exactly the opposite of what is claimed by adherents to the traditional view of final punishment.”[2]
In their view, the New Testament (henceforth, NT) is borrowing Old Testament (henceforth, OT) language and imagery that in its original context plainly signifies “ordinary” death, and does not reveal that the meaning of these texts is to be expanded upon in any way. Commenting on Christ’s use of Isaiah 66:24, Peoples remarks:
Jesus is using Isaiah to make a point, and unless he is intentionally meaning something fundamentally different from what Isaiah said – but not telling anyone that he was doing so (hardly a helpful teaching tactic) – we have in Mark 9 nothing to suggest that Jesus taught the doctrine of the eternal torments of the damned in hell.[3]
Consequently, since there is no NT textual warrant for expanding the meaning of the imagery and language borrowed from the OT, an expansion of meaning signifying the eternal conscious torment of the wicked, it is wrong to use them as proof-texts for the orthodox doctrine of hell. Date:
Critics of conditionalism sometimes accuse us of refusing to allow Jesus and New Testament authors to apply Old Testament language typologically, and to expand or change their original meaning. This is not the case; we do not deny the New Testament the freedom to expand upon and transcend the original meaning of Old Testament texts. We just think traditionalists cannot identify any texts in which the meaning is being expanded in such a way as would support eternal conscious torment. Jesus certainly gives no indication in Mark 9 that He is changing the host of the worms in Isaiah from dead and rotting corpses to living, immortal bodies.[4]

Ralph G. Bowles agrees, seeing the typological interpretation of such language and imagery as problematic because it constitutes “a direct reversal of the imagery in meaning.”[5] The conditionalist’s interpretation, however, “brings [these texts] into harmony with [their] Old Testament connections.”[6] Clark Pinnock expresses the same sentiment, stating that “the basic imagery [used in NT eschatological judgment texts] overwhelmingly denotes destruction and perishing and sets the tone for the New Testament doctrine.”[7]
Yet is it the case the NT texts are not expanding upon OT language and imagery unless they explicitly say they are?  There is no NT evidence that this is the case. Rather, a brief survey of the NT’s use of the OT reveals a different picture altogether. The OT is largely interpreted typologically in the NT, expanding upon the OT passages’ meaning in light of the person and work of the Son of God. Matthew demonstrates this in his application of Hosea 11:1 to Jesus the true Israel/Son of God.[8] Mark, who identifies of Jesus as the true Israel/Son of God,[9] does the same. Luke presents Christ as the last Adam, the true Son of God through whom a new race of men would be made.[10] John, likewise, has written a Gospel replete with antitypical Christological declarations.[11] Even the deacon Stephen preaches a sermon in Acts 7:2-53 that utilizes a typological hermeneutic, reporting the history of Israel’s bondage, deliverance, and killing of those whom God has sent to deliver them, which culminates in the person and work of Jesus Christ.[12]
It is important to note that the apostles who explicitly utilize this hermeneutic, and mandate that we use it as well, did not fabricate a novel approach to the understanding the Scriptures but, as R.T. France notes, “follow[ed] where Jesus had led the way.”[13] France finds evidence of this typological hermeneutic in the temptation of Jesus. He writes:
Why should [Jesus] quote three times from Dt. 6-8, when many other passages might have served His purpose? Was it not because He saw in these chapters, with their vivid reminders of the lessons learned by Israel in their forty years of wandering in the desert, a pattern for His own time of testing? God had tested the obedience of Israel (Dt. 8: 2), His ‘son’ (Dt. 8: 5; cf. Ex. 4: 22), in the desert for forty years, prior to their mission of the conquest of the promised land. Now He was testing His Son Jesus in the desert for forty days, prior to His great mission of deliverance. The lessons which Israel should have learned in those days are those which Jesus too must learn, as the answers to the three temptations show, and a study of the contexts from which Jesus’ three replies were drawn would reveal further parallels. Thus Jesus is Himself the new Israel, the One through whom God's purpose is to be finally accomplished. Where the old Israel failed the test, Jesus must succeed. Thus the type gives way to the greater glory and the finality of the anti type. A greater than Israel is here.[14]
This is not surprising, given that the Lord Christ himself identifies the totality of the OT to be about him - even in Esther and Song of Solomon, two books seemingly devoid of supernaturality in general, let alone the name of God and prophetic utterances about the Gospel. McCartney, in agreement with France, states that Jesus “appears to be the fountainhead of this whole messianic way of reading the Old Testament,”[15] but finds hints of typological interpretation in the OT as well.[16]
This contradicts the claim from opponents of typological interpretation that this hermeneutic allows the reader to import any meaning into the text that they desire. Instead of de-historicizing the OT, typology “begins with [the OT’s] historical meaning and looks to its New Testament fulfillment.”[17] As David E. Aune notes, “an adequate historical perspective is…a prerequisite for effective typological exegesis.”[18] This is so, he argues, because
The static and literalistic approach to the Scriptures which was characteristic of rabbinic interpretation was abandoned [by the original apostles and other followers of Christ] for a dynamic view of the Old Testament as a record of the acts of God in history which had been culminated and fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.[19] 
“The New Testament writers could thus persuade their contemporaries,” writes McCartney, “because their contemporaries, like all the people of God from the beginning until the Enlightenment, have assumed that the Bible is God’s book, and God is at work now, and the Bible is meant for them.”[20] Thus, as Stephen’s sermon demonstrates, while the OT is to be understood firstly according to its historical meaning, its ultimate meaning is found in, and in light of, the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. As Francis Foulkes aptly summarizes the matter:
Typological interpretation of the Old Testament…is not to be dismissed as allegory. It is essentially the theological interpretation of the Old Testament history. It is the interpretation of the divine action in history, in the same way as the Old Testament itself sought to show that divine action, but in the fuller light of Him in whom alone history has its full meaning, Jesus Christ. All the action of God in the Old Testament history foreshadows His unique action and revelation in Christ. [21] 
In order to demonstrate these claims further, several examples of NT typological interpretations of the OT will be provided. Additionally, Scripturally mandated interpretive principles given in the NT will be provided, consequently refuting the mention-of-expansion criterion appealed to by annihilationists in defense of their reading of passages like Mark 9:42-50 & Rev 14:9-11. The goal of this article is to demonstrate that the mention-of-expansion rule is an ad hoc interpretive principle that is not only Scripturally unwarranted but contradictory to the overall NT approach to the OT, as well as to the mandated interpretive rules established by the NT itself.
§1. The Ceremonial Law
In Colossians 2:16-17, the Holy Spirit declares:
Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
The substance of the ceremonial law, he declares, is Christ. While the laws had literal significance for the Israelites, they were also implicitly typologically significant. With the advent, suffering, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ the OT laws regarding Sabbaths, new moons, festivals, food, and drink now explicitly signify the work of Christ. “The law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities.”[22]
§2. The Civic Law
Likewise, the civic laws given to Israel have now expanded by way of unfolding. This is evident in Paul’s writing elsewhere. For instance, in 1st Cor 9:9-10 states:
For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop.
Israel was to interpret these laws literally, within the context of her earthly affairs. The church, however, is to interpret these laws typologically in the context of spiritual affairs. What is implicit in the OT commandment becomes explicit in the NT spiritual application. Paul repeats this argument in 1st Timothy 5:17-18:
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”
Once again, Paul uses the OT civic laws, intended to be understood literally by Israel, typologically. He does so again in 2nd 13:1, where he utilizes Deuteronomy 19:15, originally meant to be applied in an earthly legal context, in the context of church discipline. Both contexts have to do with judging and disciplining, but the latter differs significantly from the former. Whereas Deut 19:15 is to be followed with earthly punishments listed in the following verses, Paul’s execution of judgment (i.e. church discipline) would be followed with spiritual discipline. Civic laws, i.e. laws having to do with Israel’s governance as an earthly body, are now revealed to have spiritual significance for God’s people.
§3. The Earthly Tabernacle & Temple
The NT’s interpretation of the earthly tabernacle, all of its details,[23] and everything found within it, Hebrews declares, are “a copy and shadow of the heavenly things.”[24] They point beyond themselves to a heavenly reality only made manifest in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The author continues to elaborate on some of the typological significance of the details of the tabernacle in Heb 9:8-9a. In a similar manner, John’s prologue alludes to the typological nature of the tabernacle by identifying Christ’s incarnation as a tabernacling among men.[25] 
The Lord Jesus identifies his body as the temple, moreover, which he would raise again after its destruction,[26] this declaration itself seemingly being dependent upon a typological interpretation of the book of Ezra.[27] The church is also identified as the “house of God” and “temple of God” in the NT,[28] further unfolding the typological significance of the tabernacle and temple realities of the OT.
§4. Prophecy
Liberal scholars often argue that Matthew’s application of Isaiah 7:14 to the Incarnation of the Son of God is inappropriate, seeing as Isaiah’s is specifically addressed to Ahaz and is seemingly fulfilled in Isa 8:3-4. Matthew, they contend, is misusing the OT illegitimately by claiming its meaning extends beyond the historical context in which Isaiah was written. Those who interpret Matthew’s use of Isa 7:14 as illegitimate do not see typological interpretation as an appropriate way of reading the text. One of the many reasons why is because they do not believe in the supernaturality of the Scriptures. If the Scriptures are not divine in origin, in other words, they do not possess the capacity to address the present context of Isaiah and the future historical context in which the Son of God will be born.
Yet if the Scriptures are divine in origin, then dual prophecy is not an impossibility. The prophet Isaiah foretold what would happen in the near future, which itself would serve as a type of a reality fulfilled in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah, in other words, may himself only be confined to his own historical context, but the Lord of Creation is not limited by time and space. Whether or not Isaiah or his audience understood the full extent of his prophetic writings is irrelevant; what matter is whether or not God has the capacity to write in such a way that OT prophecies can point to the historical context of the writer in question as well as signify a greater reality to be fulfilled only at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Annihilationists who affirm the divine origin of the Scriptures recognize that God is able to write a text through historically ensconced men to historically ensconced people with a historically-bound interpretation that nevertheless looks forward to a future fulfillment, a greater future fulfillment. Thus, annihilationists of this variety will not claim that Matthew is misusing Isaiah 7:14 in Matt 1:22-23, or that he misuses Hosea 11:1 in Matt 2:15b.[29] Likewise, they will not identify Matthew’s interpretation of Isaiah 9:2 in Matt 4:12-17, which applies the prophecy beyond Hezekiah to the Son of God,[30] as illegitimate. Thus, their appeal to the mention-of-expansion rule seems out of place and arbitrary.
§5. Narratives & Persons
The NT explicitly identifies several narratives and characters whose historical significance holds typological significance, too. Concerning persons that are explicitly identified as types, we are told in Rom 5:14 that Adam was a type of “him who was to come” (i.e. the Lord Jesus Christ). Paul implies this Adam-Christ typological relationship again in 1st Cor 15:12-49,[31] and in Eph 5:25-32. This same typological treatment of Adam can be found, at least in the form of allusions to the opening chapters of the book of Genesis, in the Gospel of John as well.[32] The author of Hebrews sees Christ as the antitype of Melchizedek,[33] which also implies that he is the antitype of King David,[34] a point which Christ also alluded to in his teaching.[35] Christ is interpreted to be the true Mediator between God and man, the antitype of Moses, in John 1:45, Acts 3:18-26, 1st Cor 10:1-2, Gal 3:19 & 27, 1st Tim 2:5,& Heb 3:1-5.
The figurehead OT figures - righteous patriarchs, judges, kings, and prophets - are types of Christ in that they prefigure some specific activity of the Son of God during his earthly ministry. One brief example we may cite is Adam. Our biological forefather was also the federal head of all humanity, the son of God whose body was not created according to the natural means of sexual reproduction but was literally fashioned/formed from the dust of the earth.[36] Moreover, his adherence to, or transgression of, the Law of God would determine the eternal destiny of all of his progeny.[37] God put him to sleep,[38] pierced his side,[39] and from his side produced the perfect bride for him, with whom he was united subsequent to rising from the “deep sleep” to which God had subjected him.[40]
Many more examples can be given, but space forbids such a lengthy exposition of those typological narratives and characters. What is important to note is simply that the NT writers, and the Lord Jesus himself, interpreted these historical persons and events literally (in their past applicability) and typologically (in their applicability to the Son of God’s person and work).
§6. Typological Interpretation of the OT Logically Necessitated by the NT
The Holy Spirit, speaking to his elect through Scripture, teaches us how to read Scripture.[41] This is as true with regard to how we are to understand the purposes of the law[42] and the purpose of certain books,[43] as it is with regard to the central focus of the entire Bible, viz. The person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is not surprising to see that the NT clearly teaches us how to understand the OT, as an historical record typologically foreshadowing the person and work of Jesus Christ. Below, the NT’s broadly typological understanding of the OT, and the NT’s mandate that we read the OT typologically in light of the person and work of Jesus Christ are roughly outlined.
  1. All of the Old Testament is About Christ: Luke 24:27 declares that “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” The totality of the Scriptures, in other words, are about Christ. Jesus repeats this in John 5:39, where he explicitly declares that the Scriptures “testify of [him].” Later in the same chapter, in vv.46-47 he reasserts this, saying: “…if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”[44] As one writer puts the matter: “According to the New Testament, and to Christ himself, the entire corpus of Old Testament scriptures teach of Christ in every part.”[45]
  1. All of the Old Testament Was Written for the Church: The OT narratives, characters, events, etc are also typologically limning the church, her relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ, and her relationship to the world as she exists in the world as God’s chosen people. Thus, Paul writes: “…whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”[46] Paul identifies all of the OT as written for the church, doing so immediately after typologically interpreting David’s words in Ps 69:9. He makes the same assertion in 1st Cor 10:6 & 11, stating:
…these things [i.e. the narratives of the OT books of Moses] took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did […]
…these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
  1. The Prophets Wrote For the Church: The apostle Peter shares the same sentiment as Paul, revealing in his first epistle that the entirety of the OT was written for the church. This is an implicit claim regarding the typological nature of the OT. Peter writes:
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.[47]
Note that Peter first identifies the content of the prophets (viz. the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories), and then identifies the church as the intended recipient of these truths.
The Typological Mandate
If we are to understand the OT properly, therefore, we cannot fail to perform typological exegesis when reading it. The Scriptures mentioned above imply that a failure to see Christ in the OT is an indication of spiritual dullness. On the road to Emmaus, the Lord Jesus reprimands his disciples about this very issue in the following words:
“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”[48]
Christ calls these men foolish and slow of heart to believe. This implies that those who fail to see him in the OT are likewise foolish and slow of heart to believe, or, more clearly, unbelieving. The OT is to be read as history, but merely historical reading vastly limits the applicability of the Scriptures in two ways.
The first wrongful limitation of the Scripture’s applicability is Christological. As mentioned above, there are at least two books of the OT that have no mention of Yahweh, let alone prophecies concerning his Son and the Gospel. If Christ is correct about the Scriptures, then we must read these texts not merely according to their historical sense but also according to their typological sense, i.e. as pointing toward the greater reality of Christ and, via implication, his church and her relation to the Savior and the world. The Lord Jesus’ declaration concerningall the prophets is that he is the subject matter of their writings; consequently, we must perform typological exegesis if we are to understand how Esther and Song of Solomon are speaking of the person and work of Christ.
The second wrongful limitation of the Scripture’s applicability is ecclesial.[49] Merely historical interpretations of the tabernacle, the manna from heaven, the splitting of the rock by Moses, and the ceremonial and civic laws of Israel vastly limits the application of the Scriptures to the ethical life of the church. Paul declares that these were all written for the church’s admonishment, warning, edification, and encouragement. This means that if all Scripture is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”[50] this includes laws regarding the stoning of a troublesome ox[51] or the defilement of the body caused by bodily discharges.[52] It is all profitable for the church’s learning, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness - despite the fact that in Christ these laws have ceased to apply literally for the people of God.
The Scriptures’ enduring spiritual-Christological and spiritual-ethical application to the life of the church necessitates that we read the OT typologically. Scripture, in fact, teaches us that “when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.”[53] The hardness of heart that keeps one from seeing Christ in the OT, in other words, as well as, by implication, the church in her relationship to him and the world, is done away with when one is converted and given spiritual sight and hearing. Men who possess the OT will be held accountable for not seeing Christ therein,[54] implying that it is one’s moral responsibility to understand the OT as it applies to Christ and, by implication, his church and her relationship to him and the world.
It is mandated of the church, by God, that she read the OT not merely according to its historical sense, but also according to its typological sense. Therefore, the mention-of-expansion rule is not only not derived from the Scriptures, it also wrongfully constrains the interpretive applicability of the OT to the NT body of Christ. The Scriptures, that is to say, are muted, silenced, suppressed by the mention-of-expansion rule laid down by annihilationists and must, therefore, be rejected.
Concluding Remarks
While we have looked at several individual examples of how the NT interprets the OT typologically, we have also demonstrated that the entirety of the OT is to be understood as pointing to Christ, as well as, in a secondary sense, to the church. Much more work has to be done in this area, and a paper of this length will not adequately delve into all of nuances of a robust typological hermeneutic, though such a goal for another work is not infeasible. However, what can be concluded from this paper are the following.
Firstly, the OT is first and foremost to be understood according to its grammatical-historical meaning. The text of Scripture clearly declares what is the case in a variety of historically ensconced genres, idioms, images, etc. Any purported typological interpretation that entirely ignores the basic meaning of the OT texts is not typology but allegory, in the contemporary sense of that word.[55]
Secondly, the OT’s typological meaning cannot be found outside of the NT’s clear teaching. If any text of the OT is typological, its antitype is only found in the pages of the NT.
Thirdly, the OT’s typological significance is first and foremost Christological - dealing specifically with the sufferings of Christ and his subsequent glories. He is the central figure of the entirety of the Scriptures, concealed in OT types whose meaning is expanded by means of unfolding in the NT. Following the abovementioned rule, if an OT character is a type of Christ then his person and work must correspond only to the person and work of Christ as articulated only in the NT.
Fourthly, the OT’s typological significance is secondarily ecclesial. The church in her relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ, as well her relationship to the world, is foreshadowed in the OT narratives, some of which have been mentioned above.

Lastly, given that the NT unfolds what is latent in the OT, it is not the case that the destruction language and imagery of the OT is not expanded upon in the NT. Rather, passages like Mark 9:42-50 and Revelation 14:9-11 are to be understood as antitypes of OT types. The perpetuity of New Moons and Sabbaths, for instance, signifies an eternity of worshiping Yahweh.[56] Similarly, the Lord’s declaration that he will take some of the Israelites for Levites is typological, signifying that the people of God will be New Covenant priests to him.[57] Whereas the Israelite New Moons and Sabbaths once served the purpose of ordering the worship offered to the Lord, they now signify the believer’s eternal state of worship in the renewed creation perfectly ordered by the Lord. Whereas the Levitical priesthood once consisted in offering up literal blood sacrifices and literal grain offerings, it now signifies the spiritual state redeemed sinners have as worshipers of Yahweh who offer up sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise.[58] In other words, whereas the images Isaiah uses in Isa 66 had an literal/earthly temporal significance, they now have a figurative/spiritual eternal significance.
Side by side, Isaiah contrasts the endless state of the righteous and the wicked using temporal images that do not translate literally in our own time and the age to come. There will be no temple, no levitical priesthood, no blood sacrifices, no new moons, and no sabbaths. There will be an eternal state of worship in a universe renewed by God[59] where the righteous worship him unhindered, and justice against sinners is perfectly and demonstrably administered by God. There will be no mere corpses[60] burned by fire and bored by maggots, for this is typological temporal imagery that does not translate exactly into the eschaton. The wicked will be the subjects of everlasting conscious torment, signified by fire and worms, neither of which cease to afflict them.
Similarly, whereas the unending rising smoke mentioned in Isa 34:10 is accompanied by hawks, porcupines, owls, and ravens, the unending rising smoke mentioned in Rev 14:9-11 is not. What it is accompanied by, however, is the antitype of those animals, viz. those creatures which God has declared to be eternally unclean[61]: “…the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”[62]
Given the trajectory of progressive revelation, from the lesser earthly, temporal reality to the greater spiritual, eternal reality,[63] evidenced in the NT’s extensive typological interpretation of the OT civic laws, instructions for the tabernacle, the tabernacle and its accoutrements, the temple, narratives, characters, and prophecies it simply is not the case that the NT does not expand upon the meaning of OT destruction language and imagery. The movement of redemptive history, which is the record of God’s dealing with the reprobate and his people, goes from the lesser to the greater. The NT necessarily, by virtue of its very existence, expands upon the OT texts’ typological significance, further illuminating their meaning in light of the person and work of Jesus Christ. As Ellis states:
[NT] typological exegesis [of the OT] interprets the text in terms of contemporary situations, but it does so with historical distinctions that are lacking in rabbinic interpretation (pp. 31-34). It identifies a typology in terms of two basic characteristics,historical correspondence and escalation, in which the divinely ordered prefigurement finds a complement in the subsequent and greater event.[64]
Consequently, “since the history of salvation is also the history of destruction, it includes a judgment typology.”[65]
The ad hoc mention-of-expansion rule laid down by annihilationists, in other words, has no basis in the Scriptures, which present the NT interpretation of the OT as necessarily expanding upon the meaning of the OT by way of unfolding the meaning in light of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. This includes judgment passages and, therefore, eliminates altogether the annihlationist woodenly literal interpretation of passages like Mark 9:42-50 & Rev 14:9-11.

[1]“Worms and Fire: The Rabbis or Isaiah?,” Rethinking Hell, accessed October 15, 2016,
[2]“Their Worm Does Not Die: Annihilation and Mark 9:48,” Rethinking Hell, accessed October 15, 2016,
[3] “Worms and Fire,”
[4] “Explicit Mistakes: A Response to Matt Chandler,” RethinkingHell, accessed October 20, 2016,
[5] “Does Revelation 14: 11 Teach Eternal Torment? Examining a Proof-text on Hell,” in Evangelical Quarterly 73:1 (2001), 32.
[6]  Bowles, Does Revelation, 31. [Note: Bowles’ objection, repeated by most conditionalists, that traditionalist typological interpretation results in a complete reversal of the original meaning of OT destruction language and imagery is circular in that it assumes such language and imagery cannot signify a greater destruction to which there is no end. This circularity renders his criticism irrelevant, but we will address it for the sake of thoroughness. Scripturally, reversed anti-types are not uncommon. For instance, the bronze serpent, a symbol of the judgment of God upon the Israelites that harkened back to the serpent in Gen 3, is identified as a type of Christ by the Lord Jesus himself in John 3:14-15. The book of Esther, likewise, can be interpreted as presenting an inverted type of Israel’s crucifixion of Christ whom they treated as a traitor to the Jews, an accursed man who deserved to be hanged, just as Haman was. (But for more information on proposed typological interpretations of the book of Esther, see Tkacz, Catherine Brown. “Esther, Jesus, and Psalm 22,” in The Catholic Biblical Quarterly Vol. 70, No. 4 (2008), 709-728.) Additionally, Adam’s one sin is a type of Christ’s obedience in Rom 5. Moreover, the animal sacrifices died and were never raised to life again, yet these sacrifices typify the singular work of atonement accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ who did not stay dead but rose to life again. These constitute two imagery reversals in type-anti-type couplets, thereby undermining the arbitrary criterion for typological interpretation raised by Bowles and those who follow his lead. The words of E. Earle Ellis in his article “How the New Testament Uses the Old” are fitting. Ellis:
The Old Testament type not only corresponds to the new-age reality but also stands in antithesis to it. Like Adam Jesus is the representative headman of the race; but unlike Adam, who brought death, Jesus brings forgiveness and life. Jesus is “the prophet like Moses” but, unlike Moses’ ministry of condemnation, that of Jesus gives righteousness.
New Testament Interpretation: Essays on Principles and Methods, ed. I. Howard Marshall (England: Eerdmans, 1977), 211. (emphasis added)
[7] “The Conditional View,” in Four Views on Hell, ed. Stanley N. Gundry and William Crockett (Michigan: Zondervan,1966) 145.
[8] See Matt 2:13-15.
[9] See Caneday, A.B. “Mark's Provocative Use of Scripture in Narration ‘He Was with the Wild Animals and Angels Ministered to Him’” in Bulletin for Biblical Research 9 (1999), 19-36.
[10] This is evident from Luke 3, in which John the Baptist declares God is able to “raise up children for Abraham from…stones” (v. 8), and is immediately followed by Christ’s genealogy (Luke 3:23-38). This genealogy begins with Jesus, the Son of God (cf. Luke 1:35), and ends with Adam, “the son of God.” The first son of God and his offspring are earthly; the second federal head of humanity, the divine Son of God and his offspring are spiritual.
[11] See, for example, John 1:29, 36, 51; 2:18-22; 3:14-15; 6:32-35.
[12] Justo L. and Catherine G. Gonzalez see the sermon as not only identifying Christ as the one typified by the rejected prophets, but also identifying the church as the descendants of Abraham promised to him by Yahweh - descendants who are announcing the Savior of Israel whom they oppose. The Scriptures, he implies, are not the possession of the genetic descendants of Abraham but of the church. They write:
As we look at the early history of the church, at least as it is portrayed in the first chapters of the book of Acts, it appears that the struggle of the emerging Christian community with the religious establishment is, at least in part, a struggle over the possession of Scripture - the possession, not of the book itself, but of the history which the book portrays. This is certainly the issue in Stephen's speech before the Sanhedrin, which takes up fully 5 percent of the entire book of Acts. The Just one whom you have rejected, says Stephen, was announced and typified by Moses, who was also rejected by his fellow Israelites when he killed the Egyptian, and was rejected again in the desert, when they made the golden calf (In Stephen's speech, the same is true, before Moses, of Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers, as well as of the many prophets who came after Moses and who were also persecuted.) And, just as Moses was made ruler and liberator of the people, so has this Jesus now been raised to the right hand of God. Who then, is blaspheming against Moses?, says Stephen. We who like him are rejected because we announce One who like him was rejected? Or you, the powerful of Israel, who like Joseph's brothers gave up the Just one in order to save your power? Who uses the Scriptures correctly, you who use them to persecute us, as the prophets were persecuted before, or we who, like those prophets, announce the astonishing actions of God?
The Liberating Pulpit (Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 2003), 97.
[13] “‘In All the Scriptures’ - A Study of Jesus’ Typology,” in TSF Bulletin 56 (1970), 14.
[14] ibid.
[15] McCartney, Dan G. “Should We Employ the Hermeneutics of the New Testament Writers?”, Bible Researcher, accessed October 18, 2016,
[16] McCartney:
The Bible is redemptive-historical in character. This is not without any support in the text itself. The later Old Testament writers, for example, did understand the earlier parts of the Old Testament, as well as the events of their own time, as elements of a redemptive history, a redemptive history that is also eschatological. Redemptive history is not just about the past; it pushes its way into the future, and has eschatological purposes that could not be perceived in its original environment.
This understanding of God’s previous dealing with his people as eschatologically linked to the present is traceable throughout the Bible. In Deuteronomy 5:3 Moses tells the people, “it was not with our fathers that the Lord made this covenant, but with us.” Obviously Moses is not denying that God made a covenant with the generation at Sinai; he’s rather emphasizing that that covenant now stands in relation to the present generation. The assumption is that biblical promise, as a genre, applies to future generations more than it does to original hearers.
[17] Schmeling, G.R. “The Typological Interpretation of the Old Testament.” Bible Researcher, accessed October 16, 2016,
[18]  Aune, David E. “Early Christian Biblical Interpretation,” in The Evangelical Quarterly 41 (1969), 96.
[19] “Early Christian Biblical Interpretation,” 93.
[20] ibid.
[21] The Acts of God: A Study of the Basis of Typology in the Old Testament (London: Tyndale, 1958), 35.
[22] Heb 10:1.
[23] Note that in Heb 9:5b, the Holy Spirit states: “Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.” The implication of this is that “these things,” i.e. the objects comprising the tabernacle, of which the author has just briefly touched upon, are indeed capable of being typologically interpreted. This contradicts a widespread sentiment regarding “overreading” Christ into the OT. Such an “overreading” is not possible. Christ is the subject of the entirety of the Scriptures.
[24] Heb 8:15.
[25] cf. John 1:14.
[26] cf. John 2:18-22.
[27] See Diaz, Hiram. “‘And They Remembered The Scripture’: A Reflection on Ezra 6:13-22 & John 2:13-25,” Involuted Speculations, accessed October 7, 2016,
[28] 1st Cor 3:16-17, 6:19; 2nd Cor 6:14-19; Eph 2:21-22; 1st Tim 3:15; Heb 3:6, 10:21; 1st Pet 2:5.
[29]But see also, Instone-Brewer, David.  “Balaam-Laban As The Key To The Old Testament Quotations in Matthew 2,” in Built Upon the Rock: Studies in the Gospel of Matthew, ed. Daniel M. Gurtner (Michigan: Eerdmans, 2008), 207-227.
[30] For more on this, see Song, Grace. “Hezekiah or Jesus: Who is the Child of Isaiah 9:6-7?” in Reformed Perspectives Magazine, Volume 10, Number 14, April 2 to April 8, 2006.
[31] Christ himself also viewed himself as the Last Adam, as is implied in Matt 21:12-18 & Matt 12:6-8 (cf. Hos 6:6-7).
[32] See John 20:11-18 & 22-23.
[33] Heb 5:5-10; 6:20; 7:1-17.
[34] cf. Ps 110:4.
[35] cf. Mark 2:23-28.
[36] Note that the “dust” in Gen 2 is literal earth, whereas the “dust” from which the Lord of Glory’s body is formed is a body condemned to return to dust. cf. Gen 2:7 & Heb 10:5.
[37] cf. Rom 5:12-21.
[38] Consistently, the word “sleep” is very often used as a euphemism for death.
[39] John Gill explains that in closing up Adam’s side, “there was no opening left, nor any wound made, or a scar appeared, or any loss sustained, but what was made up by an increase of flesh, or by closing up the flesh; and that being hardened like another rib, and so answered the same purpose.” [John Gill’s Commentary on the Entire Bible]
[40] cf. Gen 2:18 & 23-25.
[41] e.g. Gen 2:4; Ex 38:21; Deut 6:20-21; Matt 1:1; Mark 1:1;
[42] e.g. Rom 3:19; Gal 3:19 & 24; 1st Tim 1:8-10.
[43] e.g. Luke 1:1-4; John 20:30-31; 1st Tim 3:14-15; 1st John 2:1; Jude 3.
[44] Emphasis added.
[45] “Is the Whole Old Testament About Christ, Or Just The New Testament?” Monergism, accessed October 10, 2016,
[46] Rom 15:5. (emphasis added)
[47] 1st Pet 1:10-12.
[48] Luke 24:25-26.
[49] I use the word ecclesial to differentiate it from ecclesiological or ecclesiastical, both of which more suggest that I am speaking of the institutionality of the church. Roman Catholic apologists, thinking of the OT typology as having reference to the actual structure of the church, abuse the OT in search of justification for their convoluted ecclesiology which is nowhere found in the NT.
[50] 2nd Tim 3:16.
[51] See Ex 21:28-32
[52] See Lev 15.
[53] 2nd Cor 3:16.
[54] cf. Matt 21:12-17; Luke 16:19-31 & 24:25-26; John 3:1-10 & 5:39-47.
[55] I differentiate contemporary conceptions of allegory from the use of the word in the NT by the apostle Paul in Gal 4:24, since the word for Paul is synonymous with “type.”
[56] cf. Isa 66:23.
[57] Note that in the NT it is not just Jewish believers who are priests unto God, but all who call upon the name of Christ in truth (cf. Rev 1:5b-6).  The typological nature of this text is also evident from the fact that the Holy Spirit declares people from other nations will be brought to the Lord “as an offering…just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord” (Isa 66:20). The just as indicates a broad similarity, not a relation of identity between the type (i.e. the grain offering) and the antitype (i.e. converts from the nations of the world).
[58] cf. Heb 13:15.
[59] cf. Isa 66:22.
[60] Note that Jesus does not mention that the righteous will be looking upon the corpses of the wicked. Instead, he states that the wicked will be thrown into hell, where the fire and worm are already present. Moreover, the Lord Jesus does not refer to their fire, as he does through the prophet Isaiah, but the fire.
[61] Hawks (Lev 11:13 &16), porcupines (Lev 11:27), owls (Lev 11:13 &17-18), and ravens (Lev 11:13 & 15) are all unclean animals according to the ceremonial law of God.
[62] Rev 22:15.
[63] cf. 1st Cor 15:46. I hope to expand upon this principle of progressive revelation in another paper.
[64] How  the New Testament Uses the Old, 212.
[65] ibid.