Letter 21: Typology: A Key to Unlocking Scripture

My Son,

 

Typology “discerns in God’s works of the Old Covenant prefigurations of what he accomplished in the fullness of time in the person of his incarnate Son. Christians therefore read the Old Testament in light of Christ crucified and risen” (CCC, 128, 129). Typology is the idea that Old Testament figures and stories are “types” pointing toward their New Testament fulfillments. St. Augustine once said, “the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New” (CCC, 129). Seeing the Scriptures typologically will make them come alive for you, my son. Every story in the Old Testament becomes an exciting exploration into the mystery of Christ. When you stumble across a connection between the Old and New Testaments, a certain sense of enlightenment will pierce your mind.

One of Jesus’s first actions upon rising from the dead occurred on the road to Emmaus when he taught two of his disciples “beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). Here are a few quick snapshots of types of Christ found in the Old Testament. Instead of going into detail on each type, I’m writing this list to ignite your imagination so that you can then reflect on these stories and make more connections yourself.

 

  • Christ is the New Adam
    • Adam was the first man and sinned against God by eating the fruit from the tree.
    • Jesus was the firstborn of all creation and perfectly obeyed God in dying on a tree. He died for the sins of the world in order that people may be born again and produce good fruit.
  • Christ is the New Abel
    • Abel offered an acceptable offering to God and was martyred by his brother for it.
    • Jesus offered himself as an offering perfectly pleasing to God and he was crucified by his “brothers” (humanity).
  • Christ is the New Noah
    • Noah built an Ark in obedience to God in order to save humanity from the flood.
    • Jesus built the Church to be the New Ark by which humanity is saved through Christ from the wrath of God.
  • Christ is the New Abraham
    • Abraham is the father of many nations by whom God promised to bless all the nations of the world.
    • Jesus is the fulfillment of this promise and is the blessing to all nations.
  • Christ is the New Isaac
    • Isaac was offered on the altar by his father Abraham. Before Abraham sacrificed his son God provided a ram in his place.
    • Jesus was offered on the altar of the cross by his Father in our place.
  • Christ is the New Jacob
    • Jacob had a vision of a ladder from heaven with angels ascending and descending on it.
    • Jesus told Nathan, “You will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” (John 1:51).
  • Christ is the New Melchizedek
    • Melchizedek was the king of Salem (peace) who was also a priest who offered bread and wine to God.
    • Jesus is the King of Peace and is the new High Priest who offers himself to us through the bread and wine that become his Body and Blood in the Eucharistic sacrifice.
  • Christ is the New Joseph
    • Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, sent to prison though innocent, rose from the prison to be Pharaoh’s right-hand ruler, and preserved Israel from famine.
    • Jesus was betrayed by his people, sent to the cross though innocent, rose from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father, and is preserving his Church to the end of days.
  • Christ is the New Moses
    • Moses led the people out of Egypt.
    • Jesus delivered us from the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light.
  • Christ is the New Israel
    • Israel was given the law, wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, then was brought to the promised land.
    • Jesus gave the new law in the Sermon on the Mount, fasted and went through temptation for 40 days in the wilderness, and ascended into the Promised Land (heaven).
  • Christ is the New Joshua
    • Joshua led the people of Israel out of the wilderness and into the promised land. He subdued the enemies of Israel after entering the promised land.
    • Jesus leads the Church through the cross and into his Resurrection. His enemies are constantly made a footstool under his feet.
  • Christ is the New David
    • David established the Kingdom of Israel.
    • Jesus established the Kingdom of God on earth.
  • Christ is the New Solomon
    • Solomon built the Temple of the Lord
    • Jesus built his Church, the new Temple of the Lord.

 

May this brief glimpse into the typology of Christ spark your desire to seek Christ in all of the Scriptures.

 

Love,

Dad

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