Types and Shadows

Types and shadows are fascinating "mysteries" in the Bible.

Typology, or the study of types, is an entire science that looks at the types in the bible. Type (from the Greek word tupos), can also be translated as pattern,[1] and in the Bible, types are essentially previews of coming attractions. The preview is called the type and the coming attraction is called the antitype. They are essentially people or things in the Old testament which points to a person or thing in the New Testament. An example is in Romans 5:14-19 and 1 Corinthians 15:22 where Adam (the type) is said to be a type of Christ (the antitype). Romans 5:14 states that Adam was "a type of Him who was to come" and then goes on to describe how sin and death entered through one man (Adam) to all men, but grace and life entered through another man (Christ) to all men. Moses, the mediator between God and Israel, was a type of Christ, the "mediator of a new covenant" (Deuteronomy 18:15-18; Acts 3:22; Hebrews 3:1-6, 12:24). Women are a type of the Church (e.g. Ephesians 5:25-32, 2 Corinthians 11:2-3, John 3:28-29). In 1 Corinthians 5:7, leaven is a type of sin and a lump of dough is a type of us: "Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us."

The word antitype is used in 1 Peter 3:20-21 "...who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us––baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ..." The flood is defined as the type and baptism is defined as the antitype.

Shadow (from the Greek word skia), is defined as "an image cast by an object and representing the form of that object" (Strong's). So we have an image (shadow), an object, and a form. The shadow is an imperfect image or copy, and therefore is vastly inferior to it's antitype, the person or object which forms it. For example, Hebrews says that the Levite priests served at a tabernacle or temple, which was "a copy and shadow of what is in heaven" (Hebrews 8:5) and "the law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming - not the realities themselves" (Hebrews 10:1). Colossians 2:17 echoes this: "Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat and drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ." The lamp in the Tabernacle was perhaps also a shadow of the Bible. There are 39 books in the OT plus 27 in the NT for a total of 66 books. There may be more than appears behind the verse, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105).

Exodus 25:31-36 states:
[31]"You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece. [32] And six branches shall come out of its sides: three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side. [33] Three bowls shall be made like almond blossoms on one branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower, and three bowls made like almond blossoms on the other branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower—and so for the six branches that come out of the lampstand. [34] On the lampstand itself four bowls shall be made like almond blossoms, each with its ornamental knob and flower. [35] And there shall be a knob under the first two branches of the same, a knob under the second two branches of the same, and a knob under the third two branches of the same, according to the six branches that extend from the lampstand. [36] Their knobs and their branches shall be of one piece; all of it shall be one hammered piece of pure gold.

The candlestick is made out of 7 branches, 3 to the left, 3 to the right and one in the middle (this one in the middle is called candlestick). Each branch is made out of 3 sets of 3 parts (verse 33, almond, a knop and a flower) except the one in the middle (verse 34) which is made out of 4 sets of 3 parts for a total of:

9 + 9 + 9 + 12 + 9 + 9 + 9 = 39 (OT) + 27 (NT) = 66 (Total Books in the Bible)

Paul notes that what was written in the past was written to teach us (Romans 15:4), and that many of the examples and situations in the Old Testament were mean to teach Christians a lesson (1 Corinthians 10:1-4,6,11). Therefore, we must resist the temptation to assume that types and shadows were only for the benefit of those living in Old Testament times to lead them to Christ and the spiritual truths revealed in the New Testament.

We also must keep in mind, as ane popular Pastor and author, Skip Heitzig said, "We cannot legitimately label something as a type unless the Bible itself reveals the connection. If we don't keep this principle in mind, we may find ourselves allegorizing and spiritualizing Scripture without warrant."[2]


1. Fairbairn, Patrick. The Typology of Scripture (Free Book)
2. Keach, Benjamin. Tropologia: A Key to Open Scriptual Metaphors (Free Book)
3. Edwards, Jonathan. Typological Writings (Free Book)
4. Murray, David. Jesus on Every Page: 10 Simple Ways to Seek and Find Christ in the Old Testament


1. Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Barbour, 1952. p. 169 of letter "P" under "Pattern."
2. Heitzig, Skip. How To Study the Bible and Enjoy It. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 2002, pg. 95

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