Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 12, 1961
NUMBER 35, PAGE 10-11a

Types And Their Abuse

Jerry C. Ray, Irving, Texas

In a previous article we defined type, antitype and analogy and noticed the difference between type and analogy. We emphasize again: an analogy is a resemblance, but a type is a divinely given analogy. Men "spiritualize" passages professing to see types where none exist and try to prove every kind of false doctrine (and some truths) and try to explain away other truths antagonistic to their beliefs by this kind if interpretation.

There are two dangers involved in the study and use of types: (1) Finding types where none exist. (2) Pressing types too far; trying to prove something which is not found in the passage (even though the point may be true, as proven from other passages). Types, as do parables, have one main focal point of emphasis. All others are incidental.

Father Of The "Spiritualizers"

Origen, with propriety, might be called the father of the "spiritualizers." Origen (c. 185-6 d. 253) was taught the scriptures from childhood by his father, Eonides. Because of his great intelligence and piety he was made the head of the religious school at Alexandria when he was 18. He is important for his work on a written exposition of the scriptures. The most important of his 6,000 works was the one against celsus. Despite the fact that he was the smartest man of his time he held to the allegorical interpretation of the scriptures, believing that each passage had three meanings: spiritual, moral, and literal! Below a classic example of his "type" is given for your entertainment.

Pharaoh And The Destruction Of The Hebrew Infants

Pharaoh represents the devil, the male and female children represent the animal and rational faculties. Pharaoh (the devil) wishes to destroy the male children (rationality and spiritual science by which man seeks for heavenly things) and preserve the females (animal propensities of man which lead him into carnality and devilishness). The midwives represent the Old and New Testaments. Sephora (Old) signifies a sparrow: that sort of instruction which leads the soul to soar aloft and contemplate heavenly things. The other midwife, named Phua (New) signifies ruddy and points out the gospel which is ruddy with the blood of Christ. By these midwives souls are born into the church. But Satan tries to corrupt these midwives so that those born into the church will be worldly (only females allowed to live). Pharaoh's daughter is the church among the Gentiles. She has learned iniquity in the house of her father, so she has come to the waters to bathe (baptismal font) and finds Moses (the law) in a basket daubed with pitch (deformed and misunderstood by the Jews). Fantastic, isn't it?

Adam Clarke, in commenting on this second homily on Exodus, wisely states:

"Neither the praise of piety nor the merit of ingenuity can be denied to this eminent man in such interpretations as these. But who at the same time does not see that if such a mode of exposition were to be allowed, the trumpet could no longer give a certain sound? Every passage and fact might then be obliged to say something, anything, everything, or nothing, according to the fancy, peculiar creed, or caprice of the interpreter.

"I have given this large specimen from one of the ancients, merely to save the moderns, from whose works on the sacred writings I could produce many specimens equally singular and more absurd. Reader, it is possible to trifle with the testimonies of God, and all the while speak serious things; but if all be not done according to the pattern shown in the mount, much evil may be produced, and many stumbling blocks thrown in the way of others, which may turn them totally out of the way of understanding; and than what a dreadful account must such interpreters have to give to that God who has pronounced a curse, not only on those who take away from his word, but also on those who add to it." (Clarke's Commentary, Vol. 1, pp. 296-297)

A Host Of Others

Others can be given:

1. Some see in the names of the daughters of Zelophehad, Numbers 27, the "fall, recovery, and full salvation of man." We are born in the shadow of fear (Zelophehad) and being brought forth in sin, and being subject to the bondage of sin we are begotten in infirmity or sickness — grief of heart for our estate (Mahlah). After wandering around (Noah) we find comfort in Christ by whom our sorrows are turned into joy (Hoglah). Christ communicates of his royalty (Milcah) so that we are found well-pleasing (Tirzah) in God's sight.

2. Some see in Joseph a type of Christ. Joseph (Christ) the beloved of his father (God) was sent to his brethren (Jews) but was sold for a few pieces of silver, the bargain having been proposed by Judah (Judas Iscariot). We then find Joseph in prison (on the cross) with two thieves (thieves on the cross). He tells of the restoration of one and the destruction of the other (one thief promised he would be in paradise with Christ, the other evidently lost). Joseph requests that the person remember him when he is restored to his former position (the person saved by Christ entreats his deliverer to remember him when he comes into his kingdom).

Adam Clarke Again Judiciously Remarks:

"Parallels and coincidences of this kind should always be received cautiously, for where the Spirit of God has not marked a direct resemblance, and obviously referred to it as such in some other part of his word, it is bold, if not dangerous to say 'such and such things and persons are types of Christ.' We have instances sufficiently numerous, legitimately attested, without having recourse to those which are of dubious import and precarious application." (Clarke's Commentary, Vol. 1, p. 223)

But brethren continue to speak of Joseph as a type of Christ, adding to the list that they were both sinned against and despised, sold for a price, sent to preserve life, found alive, had compassion for the needy and had pardon upon the penitent. These are certainly points of analogy, but similarity does not constitute proof of a type.

3. Some see in Moses' death and Joshua's leading of the Hebrews into Caanan another type. Moses (the law) could not bring God's children into Caanan (heaven). It took Joshua (Jesus: Greek word for Hebrew, Joshua) to lead them in.

4. Several of the Early Fathers saw a great mystery in the quarrel Aaron and Miriam had with Moses about his marriage-to- the Cushite woman. Origen speaks of it as follows: "The Cushite woman is the choice that Jesus, made of the Gentiles for his spouse and church. The jealousy of Miriam and Aaron is the jealousy of the Jews. The leprosy on Miriam is the gross ignorance of the Jews and the ruinous state of their religion. This is only the "hem of the garment" for Origen. He declares that limitations of time and the magnitude of the mysteries permit him "to pluck a few flowers from those vast fields — not as many as the exuberance of those fields afford, but only such as by their odour he was led to select from the rest." (Clarke's Commentary, Vol. 1, p. 659)

5. Mr. Henry Ainsworth, a Puritan of the 17th century, saw in the forty-two stations of the Hebrews in the wilderness the forty-two generations from Abraham to Christ. (Clarke, Vol. 1, p. 659)

Contemporary Interpretations

From our own time have come equally absurd and erroneous interpretations. The Roman Catholics see in the story of the Prodigal Son, the Protestant world gone into a ruinous state with a loving father (R. C. church) ready to receive the wanderer back with open arms.

Jehovah's Witnesses explain the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus thusly:

"By this parable Jesus uttered a prophecy which has been undergoing its modern fulfillment since A. D. 1919. It has its application to two classes existing on earth today. The rich man represents the ultra-selfish class of the clergy of Christendom, who are now afar off from God and dead to his favor and service and tormented by the kingdom truth proclaimed. Lazarus depicts the faithful remnant of the 'body of Christ.' These, on being delivered from Modern BabyIon since 1919, receive God's favor, pictured by the 'bosom position of Abraham.' " (Let God Be True, p. 98)

It is amazing what a little imagination and a lot of unmitigated gall can find in the Scriptures! Deliver us from such.'