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 Interpreting the Symbols and Types

The Christian culture, like any other culture has a language all of its own. It is the language of divine origin, the language of the sign and the symbol, of which the Bible abounds. Many times believers, both young and old, hear preachers and teachers use symbolic expressions in the course of their sermons or teachings. And often the language becomes unintelligible because the hearer does not understand or is unable to interpret, the symbol or type used.

The first three chapters of Genesis contain for us the record of creation. God gives but the briefest details of creation pertaining to the natural and material realm. The creation of heaven and earth, waters and oceans, seed and herbs, fruit trees yielding fruit, sun, moon and stars, fish and fowl, beasts and man are covered in a few chapters.

The rest of the Scriptures contain God's plan of Redemption.

And yet the remainder of Scripture takes up the natural, the material or created things and uses such to be symbolical of things pertaining to redemption.

Job 12:7-9 But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:
8 Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.
9 Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this?

Psa 19:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

The apostle Paul tells us: "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse" Rom 1:20

Paul also lays down a principle of God when he says "first the natural, then afterwards that which is spiritual." 1 Cor 15:46

Thus the Creator is telling man to look at His creations, for He is speaking a language to us by created things. Within the created things and creatures, God has hidden truth. For He takes the "language of creation" and it becomes "the language of the symbol" which in turn becomes "the language of redemption".

Jesus especially used this symbolic language. It was God's secret code for veiling or revealing truth according to the attitude of the listener. He did this when He taught by the parabolic method. This is specially seen in Matthew 13 in the teaching on the parables of the Kingdom. He spoke of a sower and seed, wheat and tares, stony, thorny and good ground, birds, trees, fish, pearls, seas, etc.

The multitudes in general heard only "the language of creation", but the disciples realized it was "the language of the Symbol" or "the language of redemption". They perceived by the interpretation of the parables that there was more to them than the natural, the literal and the material.

As Solomon said in Proverbs 25:2: "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter."

Thus, God has concealed truth in the symbolic use of created things. It is the honor of believers, as kings and priests unto God, to search these truths out.

 2016/8/25 1:16

 The Tabernacle and the Temple

One of the major uses of the material realm used to symbolize and typify spiritual truth is that which pertained to the Tabernacle of Moses and then the Temple of Solomon. God instructed Moses to take things of various created kingdoms to set forth symbolic truth. From the mineral kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, the animal kingdom and human kingdom, God chose and used them to symbolize truth in His SPIRITUAL KINGDOM.

Exo 25:1-9 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering. And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass, And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair, And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim wood, Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense, Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate. And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.

Exo 35:1-29 and 1 Chron 28-29.

 2016/8/25 11:01

 Seven Categories of Symbols

I have found 7 categories of symbols in the Bible. If you have found more, please add to the list.

A. Symbolic Actions

Eph 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us SIT TOGETHER IN HEAVENLY PLACES in Christ Jesus:

Psa 10:1 WHY STANDEST THOU AFAR OFF, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?

Heb 10:11 And every priest STANDETH DAILY ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
Heb 10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, SAT DOWN ON THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD;

B. Symbolic Colors

Rev 3:4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in WHITE: for they are worthy.
Rev 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in WHITE raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

Rev 6:2-6 - The Four horses of different colors (White, Red, Black and Pale)

Rev 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and WHITE: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

C. Symbolic Creatures

Rev 12:9 And the great DRAGON was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Gen 3:14 And the LORD God said unto the SERPENT, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:

Luke 13:31 The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee.
Luk 13:32 And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that FOX, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.

D. Symbolic Directions

Luke 10:15 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, SHALT BE THRUST DOWN TO HELL.

Luke 10:30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man WENT DOWN FROM JERUSALEM TO JERICHO, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

Jer 1:14 Then the LORD said unto me, OUT OF THE NORTH EVIL SHALL BREAK FORTH upon all the inhabitants of the land.

Gen 12:10-13:1

E. Symbolic Names

1 Sam 25:25 Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this man of Belial, even Nabal: for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and FOLLY IS WITH HIM: but I thine handmaid saw not the young men of my lord, whom thou didst send.

John 1:41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, BEING INTERPRETED, the Christ.
John 1:42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, WHICH IS BY INTERPRETATION, A stone.

F. Symbolic Numbers

Luke 10:1 After these things the Lord appointed other SEVENTY also, and sent them TWO AND TWO before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.

2 Cor 13:1 This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of TWO or THREE witnesses shall every word be established.

Deu 19:15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of TWO WITNESSES, or at the mouth of THREE witnesses, shall the matter be established.

G. Symbolic Objects

Matt 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this ROCK I will build my church; and the GATES of hell shall not prevail against it.

Psa 18:2 The LORD is my ROCK, and my FORTRESS, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my BUCKLER, and the HORN of my salvation, and my HIGH TOWER.

1 Cor 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

 2016/8/25 11:44

 Distinction Between Type and Symbol

Types are viewed as a select group of symbols having prophetic and foreshadowing characteristics.

Symbol - A representation, one thing standing for another

Type - A prophetic representation, one thing prefiguring another.

Types are viewed as prophetic symbols. This is not to say that all symbols used in prophecy are types. For example, Daniel 7 is prophetic of Gentile kingdoms which are symbolized in this passage as "beasts." These beasts are not types (prophetic symbols), rather they are symbols used in prophecy. A type is prophetic in and of itself and does not depend upon prophetic language for its prophetic importance. For example: Gen 22 provides us with a type having prophetic importance without prophetic language.

A SYMBOL may represent a thing, either past, present or future.

A TYPE is essentially a prefiguring of something future from itself.

Sometimes a symbol may be used to represent more than one thing or person in Scripture. Jesus is known as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and Satan is also called a lion who prowls around seeking to devour individuals.

Symbols also have positive and negative or good and bad applications such as birds. Dove and Ravens symbolize spirits. The dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit and the Raven symbolizes the evil spirit. Both are birds.

If the symbol is uninterpreted in the Word, the believer should consider the surrounding context for the thought or idea set forth. The nature of the symbol used generally gives a clue to its interpretation. (e.g. lion, swine, lamb, etc).

Generally, the Bible interprets its own symbols. The believer needs to check the Scriptures for the interpretation.

The link between the literal thing used as a symbol and that which it symbolizes, is the characteristic common to both.

Examples of Symbols:
The rock in Psalms 18:2 is a SYMBOL not a type.
The candlesticks in Rev 1:20 are SYMBOLS, not types.
The lamb in John 1:29 is a SYMBOL, not a type.
The rainbow in Gen 9:13-16 is a SYMBOL, not a type.
The olive trees in Zech 4:3 are SYMBOLS, not types.
The color white in Rev 19:8 is a SYMBOL, not a type.
The number 666 in Rev 13:18 is a SYMBOL, not a type.

Examples of Types:
Adam in Rom 5:14 is a TYPE, not a symbol.
Animal Sacrifices in Lev 1-5 are TYPES, not symbols.
The Offices of the Prophet, Priest and King in 1 Kings 1:34 are TYPES, not symbols.
The Tabernacle of Moses in Exo 25-40 is a TYPE, not a symbol.
Jonah's experience in the fish in Matt 12:39-41 is a TYPE, not a symbol.

Types may involve symbols but symbols in and of themselves are never types.

In Exodus 12, the historical Feast of the Passover is a type of Christ and His Church. Within this type are symbolic elements such as the Lamb, the hyssop, the unleavened bread, and the bitter herbs, but these by themselves are not types.

In Exodus 17, the historical event of the smiting of the rock is a type of the crucifixion of Christ. Within this type there are symbolic elements such as the rock and the rod, which by themselves are not types.

So, while symbolism may be used in typology, the opposite is never true.

 2016/8/25 18:00

 Re: Distinction Between Type and Symbol

It's all symbolic to you when the scriptures refers to the Jews and Israel, right Jim/julious?

 2016/8/25 18:02

 Classification of Types

God, knowing the end from the beginning, was able to cause the writing of the OT to be done in such a way that many of its elements were meant to be viewed as anticipative of that which was to come in the New Testament. The TYPES in the Old Testament can be divided into Persons, Offices, Institutions and Events.

God used people in the OT to prefigure people to come. These people can be seen as foreshadows in either their character, office, function or relationship to the history of redemption.

Romans 5:12-21 Verse 14 - "...Adam...who is the figure (type) of him that was to come.."

Rom 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

Offices - When the Lord inspired men to write scripture, certain offices are to be viewed as offices to come.

Hebrews 5:1-10 Verse 4,5 - "as was Aaron. So also Christ.."
The writer shows forth the analogy of the Aaronic priesthood being typical of the Christ's Priesthood.

Institutions - In writing the OT, God meant for certain institutions to be viewed as foreshadows of institutions to come.

Hebrews 81-5: Verse 4 - "Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things...the tabernacle."
The writer is giving an extended analogy showing the instituting of the Mosaic Tabernacle to be typical of the heavenly institution.

Events - God caused historical events to be recorded in such a way that they may be viewed in foreshadowing events to come.

1 Cor 10:1-11: Verse 6 - "Now these things were our examples (Types)..."
Verse 11 - "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples (Types)..."

Paul is referring to several historical events of Israel's wandering in the wilderness as being typical of events in the experience of the NT Church.

Also, it is good to note that these events can overlap. For instance, an event may include persons, offices and institutions.

All of these things show that God is authoring the Scriptures and was able to cause the Scriptures to be written in a way that many of the persons, offices, institutions and events were meant to be viewed as types of things to come.

We should understand that a TYPE is generally to be understood as a prophecy. Many times God instructed His servants to do typically what He would fulfill actually. For example, God the Father instructed Abraham to do typically what which HE Himself planned to do actually (Gen 22 - sacrifice of His Son). In another instance, God told Israel to do typically with the Passover Lamb what He would fulfill actually with the True Lamb (Exo 12). However, we must recognize that these were not types to those persons involved but were actual circumstances to them. Thus God takes the actual to be typical, which then becomes prophetical of another actual event.

All TYPES are God-ordained, not originating from man. Because all types are God-ordained they hold a very important place with Him. Notice that Moses' punishment for spoiling a God-ordained type through his disobedience. Exo 17, Number 20, Psalms 106:33, 1 Cor 10:1-4.

No doctrines should be built on Types alone, but types may be used to illustrate doctrines.

 2016/8/25 20:58

 Re: Examples of a PERSON as a TYPE

Genesis 37-50

These chapters cover the life story of Joseph. A consideration of his character and experience leads us to view him as a type of Christ.

OT Type - Joseph
Point of resemblance - Son's relation to Father
Antitype - Jesus


Gen 30:22-24.....A firstborn son..................Matt 1:25
Gen 29:31.........Miracle birth......................Isa 7:14
Gen 37:2,3........Beloved son......................Matt 3:16
Gen 37:2..........A Shepherd.......................John 10:11
Gen 35:22-26....Hated by half-brothers........Mark 3:31,32
Gen 37:5-10......Revelation of exaltation......Matt 26:64
Gen 37:12-14.....Sent by Father to brethren..John 5:24, 30,43
Gen 37:18.........Rejected by brethren..........John 7:3
Gen 37:28.........Sold for silver....................Matt 27:3-10
Gen 39:11-19.....Falsely accused.................Mark 14:55-60
Gen 40:1-4........Suffered as a criminal.........Luke 23:32
Gen 41:40, 41....Exalted in due time............Phil 2:9-10
Gen 41:45.........Given an exalted name.......Phil 2:10-11
Gen 41:43.........All bow the knee.................Eph 3:6
Gen 45:14, 15....Brethren reconciled............Zech 12:10-14
Gen 47:1-7........Reunited with his father.......Mark 16:19

 2016/8/25 21:19


While I agree with much of what you're saying Here Julius (& love much of it, particular typology - one of my most memorable classes in Bible College, along with Jewish Roots. The Story of Joseph is amazing in this regard, as is the story of Joshua. Joseph, Joshua, & Jesus all come from the same original Hebrew root word meaning "redeemer" or "to save", which is exactly what Joseph did, & Joshua, & of course Jesus), it's the "point" you are trying to get to (it's really so obvious bro) that makes it "disingenuous". You're point is to say, in spite of what Romans 11, Jesus & the prophets taught & prophesied, that Israel was ONLY a type (though they were), & all that to say, they don't exist at all anymore, have no future significance at all, etc. It's getting where you can be seen at every juncture coming from a mile away. It's like something is driving you on this. Just let it go & post on something else would you? Not subtly getting back around to it anyways, or doing a "tight end around reverse flea flicker" to really throw it down field again (concerning Israel), but something different altogether. You got anything else in there bro? Seriously, it's like it's your mission to propagate all the stuff you've been learning on the internet about how the Jews & Israel & Jerusalem are insignificant anymore, and even evil, sinister, etc. Do you know most believing Jews (Messainic Jews who have met Yeshua Messhiach, Jesus the Christ, & been born again are totally bewildered how people like you can possibly come to the theology you hold and espouse apparently everywhere you go? And so did all the classic giants of the faith in centuries past?

 2016/8/25 21:37


You are going to be embarrassed Jeff, because I have no idea what Israel is a type of. Were you taught in Bible school, Israel was a type of something? I wasn't. If I don't think it is a type of anything, how can I write about it? They are not a type but a real people (the people of God) in the OT and the NT. I am simply sharing about types and symbols, trying to get away from you and NDY and RevEnue. Would you please leave me alone?

 2016/8/25 21:49



Might I suggest that you wait until you see something that you disagree with and then raise a question? You are calling me disingenuous without having anything in writing to point to. I would like to give you a chance to remove your remarks otherwise they are going to be there as a mean spirited and false accusation. Would you please remove your remarks? I will remove mine, too. I would like to keep this thread clean.

 2016/8/25 22:09

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