OT Israel & NT Church: A History-of-Homiletics Question

(Posted by Paige)

Here is a research question that might interest some readers.

I am trying to trace the history of a certain approach to the application of OT texts to the church, in which promises or commands spoken to historical Israel are understood to have a secondary and continued relevance for the “New Israel.” There may be something of an allegorical quality to such applications, as the concrete details of the OT setting are translated into the spiritual realities of the New (e.g., “land” and “temple” become the people of God themselves) – but as a hermeneutical approach it differs from pure allegory in that it doesn’t completely disregard the original historical context of a passage. It just doesn’t locate the significance of the text in that historical context, but finds the main pastoral value of the passage in its application to the church, whether spiritual or practical.

A simple example:

Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there. (2 Chr. 7:15f.)

Application: Because the church is God’s new temple, we can be reassured by these verses that he has consecrated us, and that he will hear our prayers and dwell among us.

I would be interested to know if what I am describing rings any bells for anyone, and if you can identify for me any voices from past eras in Christian history who tended to write and preach in this way when working with OT texts. I am curious to know the roots of this approach, since it seems to differ in emphasis from a primarily redemptive-historical hermeneutic.

Comments on the pastoral value of this approach to preaching would also be interesting.

(Please note that what I am describing is a much “lighter” approach to OT application than theonomy, so let’s not make this another theonomy thread.)



  1. September 13, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    My pastor, Dr. Kenneth Talbot, believes and preaches that the NT church is in fact a continuation of OT Israel, who rejected the Messiah. For me in reading through the Bible I see passages in the OT that confirm this idea. Currently I am reading Isaiah where I see Christ in Isaiah 16:4, 5. To not believe that is to believe like the dispensationalists believe that there are two ways to God. Instead the OT believers looked forward to a Messiah.

  2. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    September 14, 2011 at 8:53 am

    John Calvin in his commentaries almost always extrapolates promises to and warnings against Israel as being for the NT Church.

    ‎”We hence learn that the Church cannot continue without having faithful pastors to shew the way of salvation. The wellbeing of the Church then is secured, when God raises up true and faithful teachers to proclaim his truth: but when the Church is deprived of sound teachers, all things soon fall into ruin.”

    from Calvin’s commentary on Jeremiah 3:15

    He will also often call Israel “the Church” when discussing things happening to Israel.

    “Since therefore the promise appeared to be incredible, the Prophet intended to meet the doubt; for they might have objected, “If God wishes to restore us, why does he suffer us to languish so long?” He replies that no continuance of delay prevents God from raising again to a lofty situation those who had been sunk low for a long period. Nor must this be limited to the rebuilding of the temple, which was begun by Zerubbabel, (Ezekiel 3:8) and continued by Nehemiah; but it includes the restoration of the Church, which followed after the lapse of several centuries.”

    from Calvin’s commentary on Isaiah 58:12

  3. rfwhite said,

    September 14, 2011 at 2:50 pm


    You might check something like Charles Hill, Regnum Caelorum: Patterns of Millennial Thought in Early Christianity (2nd ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans) and his discussion of Justin Martyr. I don’t have immediate access to Hill’s book, but I do have a note saying that for JM Israel and the Church were synonymous. Given that, you might see JM providing samples of what you’re looking for.

  4. paigebritton said,

    September 14, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Thanks, Dr. White! (I’m not Lane! :)

    Paige B.

  5. paigebritton said,

    September 14, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Thanks, Benjamin —
    I was familiar with Calvin’s way of speaking of Israel as God’s Church, but I have not seen many instances where he also reads the NT Church’s story in texts about Israel. He seems to me to see the main significance of OT texts as telling the OT story (though as you indicated there, he can extrapolate principles from an OT text for NT Christians to consider).

    I’ve not read many of his sermons: do you know whether in preaching he would tend towards prioritizing the application of a text to the Church (as opposed to prioritizing the significance of the text in its historical context)? It is this prioritizing of application, as if it were the most pastorally valuable use of the text, that I am curious about.

  6. rfwhite said,

    September 14, 2011 at 5:30 pm


    No, you’re not Lane! I’m sorry. Skipped that line in the post. By the way, from a little more digging, in his Dialogue with Trypho, JM makes several appeals to the so-called minor prophets. I can’t see enough context to know if the examples are quite what you’re after.

  7. todd said,

    September 14, 2011 at 5:37 pm


    I highly recommend “The Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts – Essays on the Use of the Old Testament in the New” edited by G.K. Beale. Many of the essays deal with your question, and Beale’s article on II Cor. is worth the cost alone.

  8. paigebritton said,

    September 14, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Thank you! That sounds really helpful! Love the title. ;)
    Paige B.

  9. David Weiner said,

    September 14, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Carol, re: #1,

    Just curious; what do you understand that dispensationalists believe are the two ways to God?

  10. jedpaschall said,

    September 14, 2011 at 8:36 pm


    Waltke does a lot of work with these notions of the Land and Temple being subsumed into Christ in eschatological and Christological modes in his Old Testament Theology.

    So we would see the Land promises of blessing to Israel, appropriated spiritually and eschatologically to the church and the believer in Christ. Likewise the Temple takes the same sort of eschatologicalized, Christified sense, so God’s promises to be present in his Temple are appropriated through Christ. So the believer and Church take on micro/macrocosmic parallels to the Temple, and Christ takes on the fullest meaning of the Temple as the meeting place between man and God.

    If I have the time, I will post some quotes and better illustrations.

  11. paigebritton said,

    September 15, 2011 at 5:27 am

    Thanks, Jed! Please do, if you can. I’d love to hear examples and also readers’ reactions to them.

  12. September 15, 2011 at 5:34 am

    # 9 Being a Jew or being a Christian, to answer your question.

    This morning I was reading in Isaiah 19. The OT is not just about the Jews turning to God. So will Egypt and Assyria in that day.

  13. Reed Here said,

    September 15, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Paige: I’ve been wanting to respond to your post since you put it up, as something was kind of poking me like a tiny thorn in the thick part of my heel. Only when I stepped ju-u-u-st right did it poke me sharply. I think I got it now.

    If I’m reading you correctly, I’d quibble over the phrase, “secondary and continued.” I’m thinking the NT actually teaches the following, “primary and ultimate relevance for the New Israel.”

    Of course, your comment is that you are researching the history of the former phrase. You’ve not said that you hold to this. I just wanted to clear that up, just in case y’know … ;-)

  14. Reed Here said,

    September 15, 2011 at 9:07 am

    Carolyn: consider the history of the spread of the gospel under the ministry of the Apostles. Very, very early both Assyria and Egypt turned to God in real biblical faith. We still have the presence of the heirs of these early Egyptian and Assyrian Christians in the Coptic and Assyrian Churches. Admittedly both branches are at best very bent today (in terms of their faithful adherence to orthodoxy). That does not mitigate that this prophecy of Isaiah (and all similar ones throughout the OT) have already been fulfilled.

    As well, consider the testimony of the early part of the books of Acts as a fulfillment of the promise that Israel would return to God. The earliest Church was almost exclusively Jewish and rivaled in size even the largest mega-churches today (4-Square Gospel in Seoul being the only exception that come to mind). When you add to that the early churches planted outside of Israel, with most being at least partially Jewish, you’ve got a good indication that these prophecies (the return of the ethnic) Jew have already been fulfilled as well.

    (This is not to deny the prophecies in Rom 11.)

  15. paigebritton said,

    September 15, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Hi, Reed!
    You wrote: I’m thinking the NT actually teaches the following, “primary and ultimate relevance for the New Israel.”

    But I was asking about the application of OT teaching, not NT — wondering about pastorally applying OT promises and commands directly to the “NT Church” without dwelling much on the original context of those texts. (In the example I gave, the 2 Chronicles text would lead almost immediately to the application in preaching or teaching, rather than being about Solomon & the temple.) Does this make sense?

    Of course I agree that the NT Church IS the “New Israel,” and that what the NT teaches is of primary and ultimate relevance! :)


  16. David Weiner said,

    September 15, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Carol, re: #12,

    Thanks for the response. I must admit that I have never met anybody who seemed to be a believer who thought that simply being a Jew (either ethnically or religiously) was a way to God. As for the ‘Christian’ part of your answer, I assume you mean a member of the body of Christ and not just on the role of any local church.

  17. Reed Here said,

    September 15, 2011 at 9:39 am

    No Paige, I’m not merely saying that the New Israel is of primary/ultimate reference. I’m saying that the NT teaches that the OT prophecies themselves (along with the rest of the OT) are primarily and ultimately about the New Israel.

    OT prophecies’ application to OT Israel may be immediate. Yet their application to OT Israel is secondary and only relevant as they relate to their application to New Israel.

    Not sure if I’m being clear. Help.

  18. paigebritton said,

    September 15, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Thanks, Reed!
    I see what you are saying, I think — and it is very helpful to hear this from a pastor. Let me press you further, okay? I want to understand this.

    When you are preaching from the OT, you make certain decisions about what to emphasize, and how to apply the text under consideration. There is first an “immediate” application of a passage, to the historical Israel at whatever point in God’s story of redemption you’re studying. What I hear you saying is that you would not stop there, with the historical import of the passage, and would in fact see as the primary reason for the passage being written down its application to the situation of the New Israel. Am I tracking?

    You mentioned prophecy in this regard: I can most easily see this, as in Jeremiah 31 or someplace, where an immediate fulfillment (related to return from exile) is just a foreshadowing of an ultimate fulfillment (new life in Christ). How about an example like the one I came up with, where the immediate reference is to a historical situation (here, the newly-built Temple)? Would you still be comfortable finding the primary application of the passage to be a message for the Church, rather than [just] a description of what happened along the timeline of God’s redemptive plan?

    Thanks again!

  19. Reed Here said,

    September 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Paige: I think we’re tracking.

    The immediate (contextual) application must be to OT Israel. It was always an application that called for demonstrable (HS enabled, fruit-bearing) faith/repentance in the promised Messiah yet to come.

    The primary application must be to New Israel. It is the same in terms of faith/repentance, yet towards the promised Messiah who has already come.

    In preaching, I use the OT application to help explain the New Israel application. I.e., both contexts involved sinners with the same essential neediness. As well, both contexts involve the same gospel solution. The key differences are with reference to the clarity of the application and the degree of enablement.

    With reference to the first, the shadow aspect of OT revelation of Messiah means that OT Israel was not going to have as clear a gospel explanation. With reference to the second, the spiritual enablement available to OT Israel was less than New Israel’s because the promised pouring out of the Spirit had not yet occurred (and could not until Messiah come).

    It is here, it seems to me, that a necessity comes into view with regard to preaching an OT text. Because of these two factors (less clear gospel and less spiritual enablement) I must, if I am to rightly exegete the passage (i.e., primacy/ultimacy of New Israel), explain the OT passage necessarily in terms of NT considerations. I must use the OT context to properly locate its application. Yet it cannot actually be applied without recourse to NT interpretation.

    To do otherwise is to offer a defective application of the OT. Look at the NT; the writers are telling us what the OT actually means. They are not giving us an alternative interpretation that is good for New Israel, while maintaining that a prior and original interpretation for OT was/is still valid. No, they are making a much more radical claim. All other ways of interpreting the Bible are wrong! Only the NT’s interpretation is correct.

    It does not matter how unclear an OT writer would have been on this. The essential structural support for this conclusion is present in the OT. E.g., Moses has read (a safe assumption, unless we want to maintain that saints in heaven have no access to the word of God from the Word-God) what the NT Apostles have said he meant and has responded with something like this, “Yeah! That’s what I was trying to say, but it was unclear to me. Great “save” guys! Thanks!”

    A preacher today cannot rightly interpret/apply the OT to God’s people unless he does so primarily (not necessarily immediately) through recourse to the NT grid.

    Make some sense?

  20. Cris Dickason said,

    September 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Paige: I’m thinking, if you are interested in the pastoral uses and application of OT narratives and lives to “NT believers” or in the Christian era (any time since AD 110) you need to read sermons and homiletics books.

    You might look for Edwin Charles Dargan, History of Preaching, in multi-volumes covering the christian era. These are older, as Dargan taught at Southern Baptist Seminary until his death in1907.

    There is a very recent series of books by Hughes Oliphant Old, The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church. It has run to at least 6 volumes in order to cover ancient Church, Medieval, Reformation, etc. Perhaps search for reviews of Olds to get a feel for their value. Dargan’s orks can be found online via Google Books and perhaps via the “internet archive” at http://www.archive.org. (don’t get sidetracked by the Grateful Dead concerts available at archive.org).


  21. Reed Here said,

    September 15, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Paige: as to the temple aspect, I like the direction Jed’s comments are going in. When I read about OT temple I simply remember that the NT tells me that this is really about Jesus, via the Spirit, indwelling His Bride the Church. Using this as my driving interpretive grid results in some obvious and, frankly, exciting results!

  22. Stephen Welch said,

    September 15, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    David re: # 16, classic dispensationalists believe that the way of salvation under the Old Testament is by obedience to the law and salvation under the New Testament is by faith in Christ. Scofield believed that grace began under the New Testament dispensation, so there are two ways of salvation and two people. This is probably what Carol had in mind. This would be common teaching among many dispensationalists, particularly tv. evangelist John Hagee.

  23. paigebritton said,

    September 15, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Thank you for the references, Cris! That’s exactly what I’d like to dig through. (With a backhoe, it sounds like…lotsa material!! ;)

  24. David Weiner said,

    September 15, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Stephen, re: #22,

    Thanks for the input. I guess I have been reading the wrong (or is that the right???) dispensationalists. I considered Pentecost and Chafer as examples of dispensationalists worth listening to; Hagee, . . . well, I can’t bear to listen to him.

    Pentecost says on page 265 of ‘Things to come’ “It is thus eveident that the salvation offered in the Old Testament was an individual salvation, accepted by faith, based on blood sacrifice, which sacrifices were the foreshadows of the true sacrifice to come. . . . The Israelite who believed God was truly saved, but awaited a future experience of the fulness of that salvation.”

    This all sounded pretty true to me; but, I guess there is a big tent. Anyway, thanks for the clarification.

  25. paigebritton said,

    September 15, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Wow, Reed. Thank you for spelling that out for me.

    Here’s further questions for you, if you don’t mind:

    Am I right to note what we might call different “schools of thought” among preachers (even among Reformed preachers) regarding their approach to applying the OT to the church? Obviously I have not been schooled as a preacher, but somehow in my reading I have missed what you are describing. I am used to locating the primary value of an OT text (though not necessarily prophecy) in its historical setting as part of the progressive revelation of God’s redemptive plan, which is already pretty exciting. I’m used to noting typology and foreshadowing in those texts, but it would not occur to me to also (let alone primarily!) find in those passages a spiritual application to the Church (if that’s a fair way to describe what you do).

    Not to say that it’s wrong to do so, but that I suspect I have been reading different books.

    If I’m right that there are different schools of thought, and my bookshelves lean pretty heavily towards a “redemptive-historical” school that emphasizes the historical context (though certainly within the wider context of God’s plan), then maybe you could point me to some writers and preachers who think as you do. I’ve certainly never heard it spelled out as clearly as you just did — so I suspect there are others that I have not heard from yet who would affirm your understanding. (This is exactly what I was fishing for in writing this post!)

    Thanks again for explaining your understanding so well. (You know I respect you as a preacher, so I do pay attention! ;)


  26. Reed Here said,

    September 15, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Paige: you speak too high of me. I’m still learning my craft, and probably will get it all figured out about five minutes after I preach my last sermon.

    Others can argue against my observation, but I think what I described to you is basically what I was taught at WTS. I distinctly remember coming in as a well versed dispensationalist who was very familiar with the vast swaths of wasteland in that system’s hermeneutic. Within my first semester I was offered a hermeneutic rooted in Jesus’ own demonstratable reading of the Scriptures. The rest of time there was just a matter of (very profitable) re-mapping.

    As to preachers who do this, well, I guess I’d offer up someone like Sinclair Ferguson. I’d offer some of the other stalwarts from WTS, but their’s is not primarily a preaching ministry. I’d like to think this approach is more common than not, but I’m not so sure now. I’d expect it to be the norm in our circles. No?

    Interestingly, I do not associate what is commonly called redemptive-historical preaching with the approach I am outlining. I remember very early in my first pastorate asking Dr. Gaffin for advice on the redemptive-historical approach. At the time I was in a locale known for its development of this preaching style. His response has continued to guide me: the RH approach is an essential hermeneutical tool in right exegesis. The question of its applicability as a homiletical is optional, depending on the nature of the application of the sermon.

    In general, I find very few homiletical uses for the RH approach.

  27. Reed Here said,

    September 15, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Paige: follow up here …

    Is it possible to say that your bookshelves are filled with books offering somewhat specialized insights? E.g., commentaries come in a range of “flavors,” with many being worthwhile, but very few (any) being comprehensive enough to offer all the flavors in one binding.

    If my question is tracking properly, maybe it is helpful to look at your shelf more in terms of background and less in terms of application. E.g., even reading something like Poythress’ The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses, I’m expecting to get mostly background, i.e., insights that make an initial connection from OT context to NT context. I expect that reading something making a full(er) application would be more like Bunyan’s Pilgrims’ Progress.

  28. michael said,

    September 15, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    After scrolling through these comments it occurs to me to point to some earliest of wisdom upon which most if not all the OT Jewish thinkers drew from as their thoughts were forming within themselves as cast in History “who God is” to them and the outsider and foreigner and “why God does to them what He does to them, for good and ill” and the outsider and foreigner. Even Solomon understood that God would treat the outsider and foreigner in a similar fashion as He would treat them in those parts of that prayer you reference to at the beginning of this thread. It seems God has not changed even in our day? He has commissioned Christ and Christ is still building His Church. I am sure you at least attest to that?

    Job 9:1 Then Job answered and said:
    Job 9:2 “Truly I know that it is so: But how can a man be in the right before God?
    Job 9:3 If one wished to contend with him, one could not answer him once in a thousand times.
    Job 9:4 He is wise in heart and mighty in strength –who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?–

  29. Reed Here said,

    September 15, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Michael: it could be me, but I find your comment very obtuse. What is your point? Thanks!

  30. Cris Dickason said,

    September 15, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Reed: re #19 – Excellent! Especially the last 3 paragraphs. But of course you know some will take umbrage at your subjecting the OT to the NT. Why, it’s as if you think there is unity and continuity of content between the the first and the later testaments.


  31. Reed Here said,

    September 15, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Cris: chuckle. Yeah, I’ve run into that umbrage before. I always scratch my head and wonder what they think Jesus was talking about when he told his generation they were reading the OT wrong, and that it was all about him.

    Oh well, I can be patient. I remember when the stadium lights went on for me on this subject. I can wait for a few light bulbs to pop here and there.

  32. Dave said,

    September 15, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    Reed has touched on what might be described as a hermeneutical/homiletical distinction in the use of a redemptive-historical approach. There is the hermeneutical discussion as to how you draw the connections between OT Israel/NT Church, but also the homiletical question of the role of application/imperative in preaching. If you are not as familiar with the homiletical side of the discussions, for something of an introduction to discussion over the redemptive-historical homiletic and the role of application in preaching, you might consult these two links to lectures from a 2002 GPTS conference. http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=68101143322 and http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=68101148582

  33. rfwhite said,

    September 15, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Reed: Great stuff.

    Paige: What Reed said. We should seek to expound the OT and the NT according to the apostle’s instruction in 2 Tim 3:15-17, highlighting the person and work of Christ and the promises of grace and warnings of judgment. Especially when we’re in the OT, we should make sure to expound the text in light of the letter to the Hebrews and Christ’s example in Luke 24:25-27, 44-46. Bible exposition is done best when we present God’s gospel, His law, and His Christ, in His sufferings and glory. For that reason, I’d “pick a (little) bone” with describing the approach as one involving “a secondary and continued relevance for the ‘New Israel.’” As you said later, the relevance for New Israel is the “main” pastoral value, and it was for old Israel too.

  34. paigebritton said,

    September 16, 2011 at 5:57 am

    Thanks, my brothers. Yes, I see the difference between hermeneutical and homiletical concerns, and you can see that for obvious reasons my learning of these things has tended towards the former rather than the latter. :) I look forward to reading / listening to more from your side of the library.

    My phrase about the “secondary and continued relevance” wasn’t necessarily a judgment call about the worth of OT passages for the church. I was just trying to describe (clumsily!) the acknowledgment that there IS an immediate historical meaning to the passages (since some folks blow by this entirely), and that chronologically speaking we get to the NT church second. But I hear you guys about prioritizing the meaning of the text for the church.

    Would you say, then, that a pastor approaches OT texts with different (though related) goals when preaching as opposed to teaching (say, in SS)?

  35. rfwhite said,

    September 16, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Paige: before agreeing or disagreeing that there’s a difference of goals between preaching an OT text and teaching an OT text, can you say some more about what you have in mind?

  36. paigebritton said,

    September 16, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Dr. White:

    Well, of course an element of preaching is teaching, filling in the blanks in the congregation’s knowledge of the biblical story. But, for example, I know that I am personally not called to preach, but to teach where I’m able, which I have always taken to be a matter of biblical literacy and helping people to see the “big picture” of the redemptive story. So I am guessing that there are times when Christian instruction probably does not have the same goal as preaching (since I instinctively distinguish the two tasks). Could the difference be in this application/imperative piece, in addition to the authority-of-the-office element?

    I raised this whole question to begin with because I have noted in passing that preachers and sermons can vary in the amount of emphasis given either to biblical/historical instruction (keeping the OT passage in its historical context, though for some this includes “big picture” things like typology) or to direct application to the church (as per the example I gave above in the post, which would constitute the bulk of the message, fleshed out of course). I wondered whether there were “schools of thought” regarding the use of the OT in preaching. I’m wondering further now whether the same preacher might give different emphases when expounding on OT texts, depending on whether he is in the pulpit or in the classroom.

    Does this clarify for you enough?
    Thanks for being willing to go ’round on this for me! I really value your insights.
    Paige B.

  37. rfwhite said,

    September 16, 2011 at 1:53 pm


    I get your drift. If we were to limit our discussion to the biblical context, I’d say, based on past study, the distinction between preaching and teaching is principally a difference of audience and content: in short, preach to (i.e., evangelize) non-believers, teach believers. In popular parlance, though, I sense that usually folks use “preaching” to describe especially “exhortation” and “teaching” to describe “explanation.” So, goal, content, audience are all part of the distinction. I’m sure more could be said.

  38. Jed Paschall said,

    September 16, 2011 at 2:50 pm


    Here’s the Waltke quotes as promised, all taken from An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach:

    …the New Testament redefines Land in three ways, first spiritually as a reference to Christ’s person; second, transcendentally, as a reference to heavenly Jerusalem; ans third, eschatologically, as a reference to the New Jerusalem after Christ’s second coming. By “redefine” we mean that whereas “Land: in the Old Testament refers to Israel’s life in Canaan, in the New Testament “Land” is transmuted to refer to life in Christ. In other words, the New Testament skins like a banana the Old Testament references to the Land as real estate in order to expose its spiritual food. Christian theologians since Augustine have contended that “the New is the Old Concealed, and the Old is in the New revealed.” As for Land, I contend that the Old Testament conceals and the New reveals that Canaan has the hidden manna of three eternal, spiritual truths in the life of God’s elect in Christ. In addition, I contend that the Land in the Old Testament is a type of the Christian life in Christ. (p.560)

    The Land as “Christified”

    The New Testament replaces Israel’s life in the Sworn Land (c.f. Exod. 40:35; 1 Kings 8:11; Pss. 9:11, 76:2, 87:3, 132:13) with the church’s eternal life by baptism into Jesus Christ. The land of Canaan, though impersonal, had a sacramental value, for in the Land, sanctified by God’s unique presence, Israel had experienced her unique relationship with God. That sacramental value is now experienced even more richly in our being in Christ. Paul’s “in Christ” with its “local” sense – so central in his theology – was for him the massive, Christologized fulfillment of the land promise…

    Whereas old Israel found God’s unique presence and her inheritance in the Land of Canaan, the New Israel finds God’s unique presence in Jesus Christ and her eternal inheritance in her attachment to him. Paul’s key term “in Christ” represents Paul’s understanding of the Old Testament promises. Holewerda comments –

    For Paul all the Old Testament promises are now fulfilled and have become personalized in Christ. Territory is insignificant and place does not matter. All that is significant is “in Christ”. Thus it is argued, the promises have been “de-territorialized”… Paul’s interpretation of the promise is “a-territorial” because the promises have been “personalized” and “universalized in Christ. W.D. Davies coins the term “Christified” for this new attachment: “The land has been for him [Paul] “Christified.” It is not the land promised… that became his [Paul’s] “inheritence”, but the Living Lord in whom was a new creation(pp. 576, 78)

    And finally:

    The Old Testament promises regarding the Land must be interpreted in light of the cannon’s own redefinition of the correlative terms pertaining to the Land. In other words, interpreting the Old Testament promises and prophecies about the Land with reference to life in Christ is not allegorizing a reluctant Old Testament text but showing how the New Testament reveals doctrines regarding the Land that the Old Testament conceals. Accordingly, the promise that Israel will inherit a land flowing with milk and honey becomes a metaphor for the milk and honey of life in Christ, a participation in heaven itself and in a world that is beyond what saints could imagine or think.

    Isaiah and Micah predict that Mount Zion will be exalted above all mountains and all the nations will flow to it. This prophecy should be redefined within it’s canonical context as a reference to the heavenly Jerusalem and/or to its being lowered to the new earth in the eschaton. let the church rejoice that myriads from all over the world make their pilgrimage to heavenly Mount Zion to feed upon the hidden manna of Jesus Christ. (pp. 586-87)

    Interestingly, it was in studying the fulfillment of the Land promises that prompted Waltke to move out of dispensational theology, and his chair at Dallas in the OT Dept., into Reformed theology. His work here is remarkable in depth and breadth.

  39. September 16, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    I think that reading Romans 11 and Galatians 3 helps me see that the OT and NT believers are the same–all by faith as Abraham illustrates.

  40. Reed Here said,

    September 16, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Paige: I differentiate preaching and teaching in terms of method of delivery, and not so much method of argument.

    Most certainly I don’t differentiate in terms of goal. And this observation may scratch the itch here. I may in a given lesson, for example, limit myself to exposing solely original audience considerations. Yet I do to serve and support a later lesson which brings this all home to Jesus and us.

    If I don’t then I’ve done nothing different than an secular teacher. I most certainly then should not expect the Spirit to use such teaching as a means of grace.

  41. rfwhite said,

    September 16, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    40 Reed: Could you elaborate on what you mean when you say you differentiate preaching and teaching “in terms of method of delivery”?

  42. michael said,

    September 16, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    Jed @ #38,

    excellent! That is why I proffered the Job text. It seems to me Job is one of the oldest writings to draw from and the leaders drew from as time marched on and the Writings were handed down one generation at a time. The relevance of it is apropos today, right now in fact, I would think?

    With the coming of Moses and the realities facing the people after crossing the Red Sea, the land came into view. They held to the promise that the land of Canaan was their by a Promise given to Abraham from whom they descent. It is a real chunk of land, surveyed and measured and apportioned according to the population of each of Eleven Tribes.

    Two things came from that. One, as for keeping the Ten Commandments, they failed. They knew that and God demonstrated that with the various punishments and judgments suffered by them in their generation. Because they fail because of the weakness of their flesh the “land” was taken from them and they were scattered to the ends of the heavens and earth. That sequence happened a few times and then Christ appeared just as it was planned. Also, their failure, according to that, produced a desire for this Savior/Prophet like Moses, enhanced.

    Now comes Jesus. He did not fail the Ten Commandments and so He could rightfully be given the “land” lost. Presumably because He did not fail He could muster a force great enough with God’s help and assistance, (like God helped others in previous generations, i.e. Isaiah praying and one Angel came and slaughters 180,000 warriors on one night), to set up the fallen Kingdom and then take authority of the Promised “land” from the foreigners and from this demonstration of God’s Power and Might bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth that way.

    Which brings me to what i believe it is all about. Jesus taught the earliest disciples to ask God for His Kingdom to come and His Will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven not just done on that “land”. Well, think about it like this. The Church today, as individual living stones in their little place, on their little plot of “land” wherever, when Christ is operating in full Power and Authority through their individual life the Kingdom has come and the Will of God is being done there, wherever there is. It could California and one of the 52 counties. It could Tennessee. It could be Paris, France! Now getting this message to the ends of the earth so that this Gospel of the Kingdom is preached to every creature for a witness and known in that part of all the earth and then what? The end shall come and the present heavens and earth shall be no more and a New Jerusalem shall come forth and become the City of God, the Holy Dwelling Places of the Most High in the New Heavens and Earth.

    I believe the very first comment, comment number 1 and the reference to Talbot that there is only a continuation is correct. That is why I offered Job as a historical stone of stumbling for those opposed to God’s game plan, which is out with the old and in with the New. If one wished to contend with him and prevent Him from doing this, well, one could not answer him once in a thousand times as Job answered.

    Christ is working even today building, building. What is He building and where we are in that building is what concerns me.

  43. Reed Here said,

    September 16, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Dr. White: simple example, I use Q&A in a teaching setting, never in a preaching setting. Similarly I’d be comfortable using props (e.g., multimedia) in a teaching setting, never in a preaching setting.

    These kinds of things are all I’m talking about.

  44. rfwhite said,

    September 16, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    43 Reed: got it; thanks.

  45. Dave said,

    September 16, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    “It is often said, and truly, that sermons must teach, and the current level of knowledge (ignorance, rather) in the Christian world is such that the need for sermons that teach cannot be questioned for one moment. But preaching is essentially teaching plus application (invitation, direction, summons); where the plus is lacking something less than preaching occurs.” J.I. Packer in the Introduction to THE PREACHER AND PREACHING: Reviving the Art in the Twentieth Century (P&R 1986)

  46. Dave said,

    September 16, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Chapter 8 of the previously mentioned volume is by Hendrik Krabbendam, and entitled “Hermeneutics and Preaching” which addresses some of the issues under consideration here. In it he develops his two theses:

    “The first thesis is that the biblical text has a single meaning determined by the will of the author as expressed in the text with a view to a specific public and can be reproduced from it in consultation with its context and in accordance with its purpose.
    The second thesis is that the biblical text has a manifold significance that is squarely based upon the meaning of the text and can be formulated by means of universal principles and patterns to be gleaned from it with a view to any public.” (p.213, THE PREACHER AND PREACHING)

  47. curate said,

    September 17, 2011 at 2:07 am

    Paige, Richard Hooker says that the church existed in two forms: the OT church which was Israel, and the NT church which is a mixed company of Jews and Gentiles. IOW the NT church is the same thing as the OT church, with the difference found in the appearance of Christ.

  48. paigebritton said,

    September 17, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Here are some of Waltke’s statements from Jed’s helpful collection above (#38) that pinpoint the kind of reading of the OT that I am interested in knowing more about:

    …the New Testament skins like a banana the Old Testament references to the Land as real estate in order to expose its spiritual food.

    I contend that the Land in the Old Testament is a type of the Christian life in Christ. (p.560)

    Paul’s “in Christ” with its “local” sense – so central in his theology – was for him the massive, Christologized fulfillment of the land promise…

    interpreting the Old Testament promises and prophecies about the Land with reference to life in Christ is not allegorizing a reluctant Old Testament text but showing how the New Testament reveals doctrines regarding the Land that the Old Testament conceals. (586-87)

    Further questions, for anyone still interested in pitching in:

    1. Just limiting the discussion here to the spiritual meaning(s) of “the Land,” did Waltke himself “discover” these ideas, or are they much older? Who else wrote or preached these things in the past?

    2. Do you agree that Waltke (& any exegetical predecessors) have correctly read the NT regarding the spiritual meaning of the Land?

    3. Are there limits to these sorts of spiritual / typological interpretations of OT texts? (i.e., ought we to limit ourselves to those interpretations that have demonstrable precedent in the NT, or is it enough to just have a “grid,” as Reed says, and then see what we can find?)

    Thanks!! (And thanks, Jed, for quotes!!)

  49. paigebritton said,

    September 17, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Thank you, Dave (#45 & 46) — the first quote picks up on the distinction I was seeing between preaching and teaching, and the second hints at the “manifold meaning” idea that we’re discussing re. OT texts.

    It would be interesting to know whether the second author quoted there would say that the “manifold” meaning — which presumably includes spiritualized NT and future-time applications — is the primary meaning of the OT text, which I understand Reed to be saying.

    Sounds like a helpful book for me. Gracias!

    For others, the book is The Preacher and Preaching, edited by Samuel Logan, Jr., soon to be released in paperback!

  50. rfwhite said,

    September 17, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    48 Paige: to your questions …

    1. Waltke’s take on the land promises is not original to him. I don’t have his text accessible, but I’d anticipate hints of his indebtedness in his footnotes or bibliography. Perhaps check Hill, Beale’s Temple book. See also Anthony Hoekema’s work in The Bible and the Future, followed by Venema’s The Promise of the Future, correlating the land promises to the new earth.

    2. I agree with the trajectory (not always the particulars) of Waltke and those who preceded him when they correlate the land promises with the heavenly country-land-city on which Abraham set his hope (Heb 11), anticipating the New Canaan-earth in which the New Jerusalem on a New Mount Zion is found.

    3. I’m convinced that the contours (“limits”) of the typological grid are discernible by either explicit scriptural statements (such as the letter to the Hebrews) or good and necessary deduction therefrom.

  51. Jed Paschall said,

    September 18, 2011 at 1:00 am

    Dr White, Paige,

    Beale’s Temple and the Church’s Mission was after Waltkes OT Theology as I understand, he cites a couple of NT Scholars:

    David Holwerda

    W.D. Davies

    Not sure which books are cited yet, but Davies starts writing in the mid 1950’s so I don’t think the ideas Waltke are presenting are particularly new. Davies may have been part of Waltke’s shift out of Dallas, at least conceptually.

  52. paigebritton said,

    September 18, 2011 at 6:37 am

    Dr. White (#50) —
    I hear you saying that you would agree that the Land in the OT has a typological significance, specifically with reference to the “heavenly country” or New Earth (physical places).

    In the quotes Jed gave, though, Waltke seems to be promoting at least two spiritual applications of the OT promise of land: one, the Christian’s life in Christ, and two, by implication, Christ himself (the location of the Christian’s life). Are these examples of the “particulars” that you would disagree with, or do you think these are fair applications?

    From my own limited reading and thinking on the topic, I would readily gravitate towards your connection with the Land promises and the promised physical inheritance of the whole earth. Waltke’s spiritualized reading of the Land promises are intriguing but startling to me.

    Paige B.

  53. rfwhite said,

    September 18, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Jed P: You’re right, of course, about the chronology of Waltke and Beale. I pointed Paige to Beale for possible bibliography on the land-Edenic garden-new earth linkage, not for derivation of Waltke’s thinking.

    Paige: what you mention about Waltke’s spiritualization of the land are the particulars I had in mind and that I don’t find convincing. Hoekema’s discussion is far more compelling to me, but I’d want to study Waltke’s argumentation in context more.

  54. rfwhite said,

    September 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Paige: I think Jed P is right about Davies’s potential influence on Waltke. I can’t remember where I saw it (was it Waltke’s Micah commentary?) but I believe I’ve seen him appeal to Davies in something he wrote on this point in the past. Could be wrong on that, of course.

  55. paigebritton said,

    September 19, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Does anyone else reading agree with Waltke’s spiritualization of the typology of the Land in the OT (he reads this as a type of the believer’s life “in Christ”)? (See Jed’s comment #38 for some full quotes, and my #48 for some excerpts and further questions.)

  56. Jed Paschall said,

    September 19, 2011 at 4:05 pm


    Much of Waltke’s conceptualization of a Christified Land in the NT is borne out of the fact that the word “land” (eretz) with its rich theological connotations occurs over 600 times in the OT and cognate terms are almost totally absent. His accounting for the absence of “land” in the NT are actually found in the of the sort of spiritual blessings that believers enjoy “in Christ”, and these paralell some of the physical and spiritual blessings Israel was to enjoy in the land of Canaan.

    In the NT, these blessings loose their geographical and physical expressions, and become spiritualized. So OT promises for physical abundance are replaced with spiritual abundance; OT promises of physical peace and protection from outside threats are replaced in the NT with spiritual peace and protection from the spiritual forces of darkness, etc. We see land-type themes developed in John,. where Jesus describes himself as “the way” not only to God, but the setting in which we experience life with God, and also where Jeseus describes himself as the “true vine”, yet another setting that parralells the setting in which believers experience life in God’s Kingdom in a way that is similar to Israel’s experience of God in the Land.

    Time permitting, I will post some more Waltke excerpts so that he can be evaluated more closely. I brought these issues up over at OldLife in one of the discussions on our union with Christ, and inasmuch as I think Waltke is presenting some of these NT concepts in light of their canonical and theological bases, I think he is on the right track, but I also think more work needs to be done in a more focussed way. But Waltke is no slouch, he holds PhD’s in OT and NT from harvard, so his exegesis and argumentation should be evaluated very carefully.

  57. Jed Paschall said,

    September 19, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    missed a part of an important section there. Land occurs around 600 times in the OT and is almost totally absent in the NT. This was the reef for Waltke with respect to dispensational theology, since short of the consummated eschaton all of the land blessings and promises seem to be spiritualized.

  58. rfwhite said,

    September 19, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Jed P: you are right to ask us to give due careful attention to Dr. Watlke’s exegesis and argumentation. One correction: his ThD in NT is from Dallas; his PhD in OT was from Harvard.

  59. Jed Paschall said,

    September 19, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Dr. White, thanks for the correction, should have double checked that one before I let it rip.

  60. Jed Paschall said,

    September 19, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Waltke lectured on this material at WTS a while back:

    Promisory Land Covenant in the NT

  61. Cris Dickason said,

    September 20, 2011 at 4:36 am

    Just a quick & general follow up to the land theme/promise… One point of having a land or place was that this was a land given by God to his people. It was to be the place where the Lord would dwell in midst of his people. God gives a land, so that in it he could place his house/tabernacle/temple.

    So even within the OT canon/revelation there’s a concentration and development of “land.”

    Make of this as much or as little as you want…I’m typing one-handed while cradling the cutest little Llewellin English Setter pup on my lap. Starting her 1st full day in PA.


  62. September 20, 2011 at 11:19 pm


    I am trying to trace the history of a certain approach to the application of OT texts to the church, in which promises or commands spoken to historical Israel are understood to have a secondary and continued relevance for the “New Israel.” There may be something of an allegorical quality to such applications, as the concrete details of the OT setting are translated into the spiritual realities of the New (e.g., “land” and “temple” become the people of God themselves) – but as a hermeneutical approach it differs from pure allegory in that it doesn’t completely disregard the original historical context of a passage. It just doesn’t locate the significance of the text in that historical context, but finds the main pastoral value of the passage in its application to the church, whether spiritual or practical.

    Would the medieval quadriga be relevant to what you’re looking for?

    It has been a while since I’ve read up on it, but I seem to remember there being four senses of a passage of Scripture: (1) the literal sense, (2) the eschatological sense, (3) the doctrinal sense, and (4) the practical sense.

    As far as I know, this is one of the most ancient approaches to the interpretation of Scripture (and correct me if I’m wrong, but I think a lot of preachers today employ most if not all of these approaches, even if they don’t realize it!).

    Just a thought.


  63. paigebritton said,

    September 21, 2011 at 6:24 am

    Hi, Rick,
    Thanks! I have indeed been reminded of the quadriga approach as I have considered this kind of application of the OT to the church, because there is that element of allegory in understanding concrete OT things in terms of spiritual NT things. So, for example, Waltke spiritualizes (or “Christifies”) the Land promise, saying:

    As for Land, I contend that the Old Testament conceals and the New reveals that Canaan has the hidden manna of three eternal, spiritual truths in the life of God’s elect in Christ. In addition, I contend that the Land in the Old Testament is a type of the Christian life in Christ. (p.560 of his OT Theology; larger quote up at #38)

    This kind of language does sound very like the medieval emphasis on the allegorical meaning as the primary, superior, “deeper” meaning of the OT text.

    Waltke, though, is (in this) on the more obviously “allegorical” end of what I am observing in some Reformed preaching. In contrast to the medieval approach, Reed’s approach (which he sketched above in #19) values the immediate historical context while prioritizing its application to the Church (since what was written in the Old was written to instruct us). Reed’s preaching reflects the Reformed commitment to explicatio et applicatio verbi Dei (explaining and applying the Word of God), a balance that the medieval quadriga lacked (the allegorical horse being WAAAAY bigger than the other three!).

    While Calvin specifically eschewed medieval allegorizing, it would be interesting to investigate the points where his (and later Reformed) understanding of typology connected material, OT things with spiritual, NT things. If this isn’t allegory, it’s a close relative. What are the limits, then, to this typological approach, when preaching from the OT? Where does it cross the line into the kind of allegorizing that Calvin himself rejected?

  64. September 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm


    Waltke’s interpretation of the land sounds a bit TOO allegorical, if you know what I mean. It seems to me like there are two ways to do Christocentrism: the redemptive historical way, and the existential way (these are embodied by Westminster CA and Covenant Seminary, respectively).

    According to the latter, the focus seems to be on the individual and his own personal sense of need for salvation (the “Fallen Condition Focus”), while for the former, the focus is on how Jesus fulfills Moses historically. While I have problems with WSC, I think their approach is more biblical (and Waltke’s allegorism seems on the more existential side).

    While Calvin specifically eschewed medieval allegorizing, it would be interesting to investigate the points where his (and later Reformed) understanding of typology connected material, OT things with spiritual, NT things.

    Well, the Puritans weren’t exactly known for their redemptive-historical sensitivity, were they? They seem to apply Israel’s promises to their own nations (especially the big new one) without much nuance. Maybe I’m painting with too broad a brush, though, it’s just that the Puritans kind of annoy me.

    What are the limits, then, to this typological approach, when preaching from the OT? Where does it cross the line into the kind of allegorizing that Calvin himself rejected?

    Maybe you just know it when you hear it. If I hear that the true land is the new Jerusalem in the new age, or that Jesus is the true temple, or that the Spirit fulfills Torah, no problem. But when the title of the sermon from the text about the floating axehead is called “Have You Lost YOUR Cutting Edge?”, then well, I know it’s going to be a long morning.

  65. Jed Paschall said,

    September 21, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Biblicist & Paige,

    I would be hesitent to categorize Waltke’s (actually it starts with Davies) “Christified” understanding of the OT promisory land covenant. He is employing exegetical arguments that John, Paul, and the author of Hebrews are all reinterpreting “land” in Christocentric patterns. He emphasizes this concurrent with additional fulfilments of the Land promises in the NT

    1) Land is trancendentalized – with reference to the present heavenly Jerusalem and the heavenly temple.

    2) Land is eschatologicized – with reference to the eternal state and the ultimate expression of the OT land promises.

    I dont think there would be much disagreement with these two points, and since these aren’t employing allegory, I think it might be a stretch to deem a Christified Land concept as allegorical. He’s making biblical theological arguments that all three of these concepts are in the biblical (better yet, canonical) substructure of the land promises.

    I personally need to see some more development of the ideas Waltke is presenting to be 100% sold on the concept of a Christified understanding of Land. However, I reallu think Waltke, and by extension Davies before him are on to something here. As I read through Ephesians especially, I would be comfortable saying that at minimum, being “in Christ” is intimately bound to the notion of eternal inheritance, and this is grounded in the OT concept of inheritance in the land of Canaan. Anyway, interested to hear further response on this.

  66. David Weiner said,

    September 21, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Jed, re: #65,

    “John, Paul, and the author of Hebrews are all reinterpreting “land” in Christocentric patterns.”

    Does this mean that they are also reinterpreting God’s covenant with Abram? The one where He goes to all the trouble of specifying the extent of the land? Can you think of any reason for all that detail if it is merely a ‘concept’ waiting to be explained in the NT?

  67. paigebritton said,

    September 21, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Thanks, Jed —
    Perhaps Waltke’s take is not fully “allegorical,” in the sense that he would say the texts about Land in the OT are really about the believer’s life in Christ, the way Origen might wish to tell us what Noah’s Ark is really about. Yet his typology (Land –> Christian’s life in Christ) takes a concrete, historical reality and assigns to it a spiritual reference, which is characteristic of medieval allegory. (Okay, Paul does this, too, so it’s not unprecedented — but the similarity to quadriga thinking does give one pause.)

    I do admit that it’s an intriguing idea, though, and I hear you that he has done his exegetical homework.

    I wonder how widely accepted this particular typological interpretation is in Reformed circles?


  68. Jed Paschall said,

    September 21, 2011 at 5:07 pm


    I don’t think the Abrahamic covenant is a defeater of Waltke’s view here if that is what you are asking, since I am not completely clear on where you are going here. The author of Hebrews makess it clear that Abraham was seeking something more than what the land of Canaan had to offer. He was seeking an “eternal city” which is in line with Waltke’s eschatologized, transcendentalized view of the Land promise. To draw a very tenative connection to a possible Christified land, if we are comparing Ephesians to Hebrews possibly alluding to and building off of the OT land promises, Christians can only enter into the Sabbath rest, “in Christ”, obtaining the inheritance spoken of in Ephesians, if they persist in faith, following the examples of Abraham and others (Heb. 11).

    If we take a look at the promises annexed to life in the Land, pending Israel’s obedience to the Mosaic Covenant in Deuteronomy 7:12-16 that promise fertility, protection, peace, health, and abundance, we can see a striking correspondence to the spiritual benefits the New Covenant community enjoys “in Christ”. What is more, we will see these sort of blessings take their ultimate expression when we are finally taken into the eschatological Promised Land. I don’t see this as allegory, but rather, the redemptive-historical culmination of these OT texts being taken to their teleological conclusion.

    In his New Testament Theology, Frank Thielman writes:

    [ Paul’s] letter paints a picture of a new creation in which invisible and hostile forces of the heavens lie conquered beneath the feet of Christ. In this picture, a church that consists of both Jews and Gentiles sits alongside the risen Christ in the heavens, sharing his triumph. This is the goal, Paul says, toward which God is moving the universe – to sum up all things in heaven and on earth in Christ. (p. 407)

    If, on a much smaller scale, Israel enjoyed sharing in the fruits of God’s triumph over the wicked inhabitants of Canaan by partaking of the blessings of the Land that God swore to give them, I don’t think it is too much of an exegetical stretch to say that the church will share in the benefits of Christ’s victory in the eschatological Promised Land. Where I lack the skill and insight to draw further connection is how, or if, given the fact that God is summing up all things “in Christ” the blessings and promises attached to the Land (in the OT or NT), are being summed up or located “in Christ”. I don’t have enough Greek under my belt to determine whether the “in” “in Christ” with respect to possible connections to the Land promises are speaking of “in” as instrumental (through Christ), locative (spatially in the person of Christ in a similar sense that we are members of his body), or relational (by virtue of being identified as his own posession), or something else entirely.

  69. David Weiner said,

    September 21, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Jed, re: #68,

    Thanks for all of that. You said: “I am not completely clear on where you are going here.” Well, that might be because I wasn’t trying to go anywhere. Certainly, I am not trying to defeat Waltke. And, I certainly agree with all you said about the church, the body of Christ.

    I thought I had a simple question of why God might have given all that land detail if it was going to be explained away in the NT. Also, He used such simple language in talking to Abram. Does God say things that He doesn’t mean? Of course not. He says ‘land.’ Is that really open to refinement by us?

  70. Jed Paschall said,

    September 21, 2011 at 5:34 pm


    I guess I must be misunderstanding what you mean by allegory, which is something very different than say typology, which has been getting a lot more attention among biblical theologians lately. I see Waltke as trying to make sense of how land, which figures so dominantly in the OT is almost totally absent in the NT. In my understanding of allegory, spiritual meanings and connections are made in OT texts that dont correspond in any way to what the OT text was really speaking to. There is a metaphorical quality to allegory that is missing in typological formulations which have a correlation between the type and the antitype, usually with a good deal of theological development in the canon between the two. We see this in other major OT themes such as King, Adam, Passover, Circumcision, Temple, and Sabbath where these themes are developed from the Pentateuch through the rest of the OT, and take on well developed antitypes in the NT, all relating in some way to the person and work of Christ.

    I am certainly willing to admit that I could be looking at this improperly. I am a bit more predisposed to look at the work of biblical theologians, since this field has been hard at work trying to gain a better sense of how the NT is using the OT. Because of this I tend to look more closely at the OT through a typological lens. I see this reflected in works such as the Commentary on the New Testament’s Use of the Old Testament edited by Beale and Carson, where typological developments figure prominently throughout that work.

    I think that this does cut to the heart of your initial question, by asking a related question: how much should typology figure in our understanding of the OT, and are there limits to this? At the end of the day either Waltke is headed in the right direction, or he is making connections that aren’t really there. After spending quite a bit of time pouring through Waltke, I tend to the former, but I cant say I am certain on this matter.

  71. Jed Paschall said,

    September 21, 2011 at 5:40 pm


    Thanks for clarifying. I see much clearer where you were going now. I would answer briefly that of course God had the Land of Canaan in mind in his promise to Abram. We see the historical fulfillment of those promises being played out in the Joshua narratives and beyond. I don’t think it is so much us adding meaning to the initial promises, as the fullest meaning of those promises are developed by the biblical authors throughout the cannon. So we see the inital promise unfold into something much more than simply a patch of land on the east coast of the Medeterranian Sea. Hopefully that makes more sense.

    Anyway, I’ve got to jump to some other responsibilities, so any responses that I can offer will have to wait until later in the week. The conversation has certainly been enlightening.

  72. David Weiner said,

    September 21, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Jed, re: #71,

    “We see the historical fulfillment of those promises being played out in the Joshua narratives and beyond.”

    Well, when you return, possibly you can tell me how a promise of God that has ‘eternal’ in it can already be over and done with?

  73. paigebritton said,

    September 22, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Jed (#71) —
    Good stuff. And I second your question here:

    I think that this does cut to the heart of your initial question, by asking a related question: how much should typology figure in our understanding of the OT, and are there limits to this?

    This is exactly what I am wondering.

  74. Roger du Barry said,

    September 22, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Making the land promises into an allegory is the kind of misreading that I try to avoid.

    The land promises must be taken at face value, together with the OTHER land promises, that the Gentile nations would be joined to restored Israel, namely, the redeemed church. I do not think that they could be joined without adding their territory, which the scriptures make plain.

    This is just one of the things that the International Kingship of Jesus is about.

    Allegorising belongs in to the Schoolmen, and unless there is a genuine typological reference, it is best avoided.

  75. Reed Here said,

    September 22, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Paige, I think the limits you are looking for are in principle spelled out in the fundamental hermeneutical principle of Scripture interprets Scripture. I.e., we must have biblical warrant for the typology. Further, the Bible’s own expressed usage of the type provides the boundaries for the contours of the type. Quite often this is sufficient.

    A difficulty, it seems to me, arises when we move from what is explicit (e.g., the Hebrews statements that the ministry of the tabernacle/temple is a type) to what is implicit. E.g., Waltke’s typology regarding the land as finding its fullest expression in Christ is more than less an implicit based argument. I.e., there is not one single verse that spells this out in black and white.

    This is not to say implicit based type arguments are wrong per se. It simply means that we need to take such with the proverbial grain of salt. Some implicit arguments seem to need only a small grain or two. Other implicit arguments require the whole salt shaker.

    In my experience the better implicit arguments are the ones that easily find traction with the hearers. E.g., when I point out the Garden parallels between Gen 2 and Rev 22 virtually every hearer immediately goes, “yeah, I see it!” This is an example of a strong implicit argument (e.g., nothing in Rev 22 says, “refer to Gn 2 to figure out an important connection.”)

    I haven’t read Walkte’s exegetical support for his argument, so I really can’t comment how many grains of salt I feel I’d need to swallow it (no disdain intended). Off the top of my head my initial response when I read Jed’s first post on it was “maybe.” It did not strike me as obvious, but possible a nuance that is valid. Again, having not read the argument in any detail from Walkte, mine is not a criticism, just an honest pause.

  76. michael said,

    September 22, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Roger at #74. That just about succinctly sums it up for me when understanding what it means that we should pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”.

    I suppose that is the same prayer a converted Jew would be praying along with all the converted Gentiles?

    What will that look like but what the Apostle Paul said Jed alluded and pointed too in those Ephesian one passages where the mystery is God is summing “all” things up in Christ!

    Where does that leave death? Or Satan for that matter? The Beast? The false Prophet or Hades or those whose names are not recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life??? They are excluded because by that event, (the Ephesians 1 summed up event), they will have been put in their “place” in the “eternal damnation” we won’t seeing we have been summed up and placed in Him now eternally a part of that Land of Promise, New Jerusalem!

    What imagery is this that inspires my longing within my soul?

    Heb 11:8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
    Heb 11:9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.
    Heb 11:10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

    Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
    Rev 21:2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
    Rev 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
    Rev 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

    Rev 22:1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb
    Rev 22:2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
    Rev 22:3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.
    Rev 22:4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
    Rev 22:5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

    This is great stuff and Paige, hats off to your active mind bringing this forward so that so much can be focused on and said about it in here!

  77. Roger du Barry said,

    September 23, 2011 at 1:34 am

    Michael, what you said in your first paragraph.

    Back to interpretation, my rule is to always take a text at face value, unless there is a compelling scriptural precedent to recognise a symbol. The so-called deep meanings behind the text are, to my mind, illusions.

    Take the land. That promise is always taken literally in the scriptures, so why make it into an allegory? The problem that many people have is seeing how it is fulfilled in the NT, and the key to that is the NT teaching on the inclusion of the Gentiles in the covenants and promises of Abraham. And that issue is resolved in the cross and resurrection of Jesus, whereby he inherited the throne of his father David, as well as becoming the ruler of all the other nations of the earth.

    From the right hand of Power he will return to judge the living and the dead, to raise his people to life eternal, whose kingdom will endure forever, world without end. Amen.

  78. Dave said,

    September 24, 2011 at 9:15 am


    How do you understand the earthly/heavenly fulfilment of the promises discussed in Hebrews 11-12 in connection with your statement that the promise of the land is always taken “literally”? Is it possible to hold on to all the connections you have identified but still make broader applications of the land promise? If the key linking the OT promise to the NT fulfillment is Christ in whom all the promises of God are “yea, and Amen,” is it possible that your concern about those who spiritualize the promises by finding fulfillment in Christ is not so much a failure on their part to identify Christ in the promise, but a failure to acknowledge the comprehensive application of Christ’s current rule, thus limiting the fulfillment which occurs in Christ to something less than it’s full biblical scope?

  79. paigebritton said,

    September 24, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Reed (#75) — Yes, very much what I was thinking: at this point I’d give Waltke credit for a creative “maybe,” keeping in mind the possibility that he can offer compelling support from the NT for his/Davies’ interpretation. But I agree with you that the typological connection between “Land” and “life in Christ” is not spelled out in so many words in the NT.

    One of my pastors likes to use the phrase “sanctified imagination” for our creative extensions of biblical revelation (especially regarding what people in the narratives were thinking or feeling, when it’s not reported outright). I think he means this with a grain of salt — but I tend to be even more cautious when treading in human-creative territory, when things are not openly spelled out by the NT writers.

    Like your new avatar — but miss the old grin! ;)

  80. paigebritton said,

    September 24, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Dave & all —
    Good question there (#78) about whether the “spiritual” dimension of a typological connection could reflect the fuller meaning or significance of a type.

    Here’s an observation, see if you agree:

    Most OT “types” are physical earthly realities that correspond to physical spiritual realities (where “spiritual” simply means “of the Spirit,” not “immaterial or conceptual”):

    Circumcision (a rite) –> Baptism (a rite)
    Davidic King –> Jesus
    Mosaic Prophet –> Jesus
    Joseph –> Jesus
    Ram provided by God –> Jesus
    Israel –> the Church
    Adam –> Jesus
    Land –> New Heavens/New Earth (a physical reality!!)
    Temple –> Jesus
    Passover (historical event) –> Lord’s Supper
    Bronze snake –> Jesus
    Manna –> Jesus


    The only OT “type” that I can think of off the top of my head that has any sort of “immaterial” antitype is the Sabbath, which is an immaterial concept to begin with:

    Sabbath –> Salvation, rest (as per Hebrews)

    Waltke’s idea maps like this:

    Land (physical) –> Christian’s life in Christ (immaterial, “spiritual,” even conceptual)

    Just throwing this out here for consideration, would you guys say that there is enough of a regularity to the scriptural type/antitype pattern that we would expect a mapping of physical type to physical antitype (– and maybe conceptual to conceptual)? Okay, not that God can’t do whatever he wants. But maybe he’s communicating something about the physical nature of the fulfillment of the “types” that he invented and inserted into history & the Scriptures.

    Great discussion everybody, THANK you!

  81. rfwhite said,

    September 24, 2011 at 11:00 am


    As I see it, the book of Hebrews provides certain key factors for this discussion. One key is the relation of earth and heaven: the earthly was patterned after the heavenly; that is, the heavenly was the pattern for the earthly, and the goal of history is the conformity of the earthly to the heavenly. This factor is central to the argument of Heb 8, for example, and finds expression also in 1 Cor 15.45-49. A second key is the relation of the temporary and the eternal: the temporary was, of course, changeable and transitory; that which is temporary foreshadows — anticipates and looks forward to — that which is eternal. A third factor is that, as God moves us through the history of his revelation and redemption, he shifts our attention from earthly, temporary copies and shadows of heavenly, eternal realities (archetypes, antitypes) to the heavenly, eternal realities themselves. The shadows are not simply replaced by the realities; they are fulfilled in them.

    Beyond that category of consideration, there are the principles expressed in WCF 1.6 — the whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture — and WCF 1.9 — “the infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.” Hermeneutical approaches that disregard or disparage the concerns, methods, or results of historical and systematic theology would be contra-confessional.

  82. Roger du Barry said,

    September 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Dave, Hebrews 11 – 12 is contrasting OT Israel under Moses with the NT Church under Christ. They came to a threatening mountain, we have come to Mount Zion, the New Jerusalem. Note the past tense re us. New Jerusalem is the church here on earth, not heaven.

    Now there is an example of genuine typology. However, OT Mount Zion and NT Mount Zion are both earthly, neither is an allegory.

    … is it possible that your concern about those who spiritualize the promises by finding fulfillment in Christ is not so much a failure on their part to identify Christ in the promise, but a failure to acknowledge the comprehensive application of Christ’s current rule, thus limiting the fulfillment which occurs in Christ to something less than it’s full biblical scope?

    Very well put.

  83. Roger du Barry said,

    September 24, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Paige, when we start looking for a hidden, deeper meaning in a text that is behind or under the plain meaning, we have returned to the type of reading that the Reformation rejected in favour of the meaning on the face of the text.

    Having said that, your latest post is good. :)

  84. Dave said,

    September 24, 2011 at 3:25 pm


    Okay, so you understand the NT Mt Zion is the church here on earth, yet the church here on earth is in the heavenlies in Christ, is she not (Eph 2:6)? So is there no sense in which the fulfillment of that promise is beyond the merely earthly, and no sense in which the heavenly Jerusalem in which we worship is not merely from heaven but in the heavenlies (Heb 12:22ff)? And is the experience of the departed saints currently with Christ apart from the earth in no sense a fulfillment of the OT promise of a homeland from God?

  85. Dave said,

    September 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Roger, regarding then your response to Paige in #83, how does Paul’s use of Deuteronomy 25:4 in 1 Timothy 5:18 fit with the meaning on the face of the text in the OT?

  86. Dave said,

    September 24, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    So Paige, in your mapping of the Sabbath, has the OT Sabbath no binding “earthly” NT correspondent except what you describe as the immaterial concepts of salvation and rest, or are you just indicating that beyond the NT Sabbath earthly observation there is a mapping to something “spiritual” and conceptual?

  87. michael said,

    September 24, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    @ #81, Dr. White,

    I want to narrow my comment to just these words of yours and post that contrast:

    You write above: “…As I see it, the book of Hebrews provides certain key factors for this discussion. One key is the relation of earth and heaven: the earthly was patterned after the heavenly; that is, the heavenly was the pattern for the earthly, and the goal of history is the conformity of the earthly to the heavenly. This factor is central to the argument of Heb 8,…”

    For me, I can only settle it by His Faith, which is the gift given to His Elect. When connecting the dots in my mind, the earthly to the heavenly, from Hebrews 8 onward to Hebrews 9:13-14, I see that it was the “real” blood of bulls and goats and the “real ashes” of “real” heifers that reconciled the sinful flesh of “old” Israel and her practices to Christ by those human actions done under that legal scheme. With us, though, who have been called to His Eternal Glory in Christ to live according to the obedience to the Faith on earth as patterned after the heavenly, it is by “real” Blood, not that of animals, but by His “real” Blood, that we are conjoined to “New” Israel on earth which will bring us to the Eternal Glory in Christ, here and there. None of us has ever had sprinkled upon us His “real” Blood. Whereby all, elect Jew and Gentile, then and now, alike now live by the obedience to His Faith under this “New” Gospel scheme, not under that “old” legal scheme aforementioned, so that we do not lose heart, but now, by being born again to this Living Hope, we become partakers of that Divine heavenly Inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled and unfading on earth. It is by this active and living Faith in a very real “earthly” event, a real event done on our behalf so long ago, when none of us were present to experience it, that produces within us, both our place with Christ “now” on earth and “now” in heavenly places also, to all heavenly “eternity” to come.

    This keeps my mind sound in the Faith once delivered to the Saints because by that event then I now can receive His Spirit of power, love and a sound mind and with some mentoring by men and women [Paige and women of Faith like her] of Faith I am able to walk by His Faith discerning between good and evil and therefore experience a first fruits of what awaits us later on, at our passing or when this present heavens and earth passes away and the New Heavens and Earth comes to full fruition in Christ!

  88. Roger du Barry said,

    September 24, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Dave, 84: The church is in the heavenlies in the here and now. We are presently seated in the heavenlies with Christ. Does that mean that we are in two places at once? I think not. We are in the heavenlies because Christ is there bodily, representing us.

    Note that it is in the present tense, not the future tense.

    This does not require a “spiritualised” reading. The experience of the dead departed is not in view in those texts.

    Re post 85, are you saying that Paul has spiritualised the text? Or is he applying it on the basis of if this, then that?

    Have a good Lord’s Day.

  89. Roger du Barry said,

    September 24, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Typologically and symbolically, we are in the heavens/sky just as Israel was in the OT. They were typified as the sun, moon, and stars in Joseph’s dream. Jesus prophesied that the heavenly bodies would be removed when Jerusalem fell, and with its demise Israel’s privileged place with God was ended, to be replaced with the body of Christ, the Church.

    So then, we are the sun, moon and stars to God just as Israel once was.

  90. Dave said,

    September 24, 2011 at 6:18 pm


    Regarding Paul’s use, I was making no claim one way or another, just wondering how you understood what Paul was doing to relate to the meaning of the text on the face of it. So based on your response, are you saying that Paul is making an application of the plain meaning of the texts, and that as you are defining your terms, the meaning of a text should not be construed to include it’s appropriate applications? This seems to draw us back to the some of the earlier distinctions around meaning vs. application, exegetical vs. homiletical approaches, etc.

    Regarding the current blessedness of the dead in the Lord, to be clear, my question was not whether they were specifically in view in the Heb 12 text (if that is what you meant by your response), but whether you think that what they are enjoying now in heaven before the final resurrection has no connection to the OT promise of the land.

    Regarding our position in the heavenlies in Christ, are you saying that our position there is merely representative, and that there is no spiritual/mystical element to what Paul is describing due to our union with Christ in the Spirit that would make our presence there real in any other sense than the representative?

    FWIW, in all of these things I’m not necessarily arguing for any specific understanding at this point, just trying to make sure I understand what your position is by raising clarifying questions.

    May you have a blessed Lord’s Day as well.

  91. Roger du Barry said,

    September 25, 2011 at 1:29 am

    Dave, or should I say Socrates, a plain reading of scripture excludes looking for hidden meaning behind or under the plain text, it does not exclude appropriate applications and consequences.

    On blessedness of the dead, would you please refer us to a text that teaches that their present state has a connection to the promise of the land. That would take away all doubt and guesswork. I cannot think of one, but perhaps you can.

    If you are using the words spiritual and mystical as synonyms, then I would agree that we really are united to Christ’s body here and now, and that we are truly members of his mystical body, and that in the Supper we truly eat and drink his body and blood, in our hearts, by faith.

    As to defining how that works, I join all the Reformers in keeping silence, because we cannot explain it.

    However, the human body cannot be in two places at the same time, which is why Christ’s body is in heaven only, not on earth as well. Our bodies follow the same rule.

    Hope that helps.

  92. September 26, 2011 at 1:10 pm


    I apologize for butting in like this, but I have started a blog called Biblicism and Ballyhoo, the point of which is to discuss issues relating to salvation—especially justification—from a strictly biblical perspective (click my name above to be directed there). I am an evangelical who has come to have doubts about the whole sola fide thing, so if even a couple people who affirm that position could swing by and engage me in discussion, I guarantee it will be fun for the whole family.

    So far, most of my readers seem to be Catholics, but as I reject the claims of the Roman church, I would prefer more Protestant/Reformed dialogue partners. FYI, the discussion at the moment surrounds Gal. 5:6.

    Thanks, and sorry again for the plug.


  93. Reed Here said,

    September 26, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Rick: many probably appreciate your desire to get this down. I’d hazard a guess and say that very few of us simply heard the explanation, read and few verses, and said, “yep, got it!”

    Accordingly, it would help us in conversation on such a vital subject (one we believe is definitive for orthodoxy, hence our conviction that the Church of Rome is NOT orthodox), if you could tell us what you’ve studied so far. E.g., having a conversation with brothers is a means God will bless. It is always helpful to speak to the wisest of one’s brothers. Accordingly, what of the wiser brothers on this subject have you studied?

  94. greenbaggins said,

    September 26, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    I would echo Reed’s thoughts here, Rick. To the one who wants to know the Reformed position on justification, you absolutely must read the following three books: volume 5 of John Owen’s works; Justification, by Buchanan, and Justification, by John Fesko. Rather than depending on decidedly inferior authorities for the Reformed position (such as Reed and myself), you should learn the Reformed doctrine from the very best. It might resolve some of your doubts. It might raise new ones. But you will be able to ask the best questions after reading those three works.

  95. September 26, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Thanks, guys, for your reply. I have read pretty widely in the Protestant and Reformed tradition (both the older writers like Owen, as well as more contemporary theologians like Horton), and I have no doubt that if we dialogue, you will never have to stop me and explain to me that I am misunderstanding your view.

    As you’ll see from my blog, this whole thing started via a dilaogue with PCA pastor and Tabletalk contributor Nick Batzig in which I feel like I asked some relevant biblical questions that he simply would not tackle.

    Look, I’m not saying dedicate all your time to this, but I would just really appreciate it if someone would engage me on the topics I address over at B&B.

    Hope to hear from you soon!

  96. paigebritton said,

    September 27, 2011 at 6:43 am

    Dave (#86) —
    So Paige, in your mapping of the Sabbath, has the OT Sabbath no binding “earthly” NT correspondent except what you describe as the immaterial concepts of salvation and rest, or are you just indicating that beyond the NT Sabbath earthly observation there is a mapping to something “spiritual” and conceptual?

    Real quick — Just thinking there in terms of typology, not normative practice — see the difference? Looking at the way the OT figure “pictures” something. The Sabbath has two scriptural “roles,” if you will — one typological and one normative. Not saying anything about the normative part, just making an observation about the typological. Make sense?

  97. paigebritton said,

    September 27, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    More typology/application questions for y’all:

    I was speculating up in #80 that biblical typology generally follows the pattern of

    physical earthly reality –> physical spiritual reality,

    …where “spiritual” does not mean “immaterial” or “conceptual,” but rather “of the Spirit.” (Maybe we would also say, for the right side of the formula, “physical fulfilled reality.”) I wondered if there were any examples that mapped like Waltke’s idea,

    physical earthly reality –> immaterial/conceptual reality

    I thought of one possibility, but it raised some more questions for me — see what you think. How about the reading of the David and Goliath narrative that applies the Davidic typology so that Goliath maps to Satan? (I’m assuming a satanic ontology of immateriality!!) This then has bearing on the “application” part of a D&G sermon.

    I know this is a very ancient reading, probably attested to by some ECFs, and definitely present in medieval interpretation. But….it doesn’t pass the “clearly stated in the NT” test. (Does it? I can’t find it.)

    What do you guys think? A “good and necessary inference” interpretation, or a stretch?


  98. Reed Here said,

    September 27, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Paige, I follow it. I even add further the other two Enemies of mankind, sin and death. I’m not saying Goliath particularly references any of these three (third being Satan). Instead, in siding with the forces aligned against the people of God (cf., David’s speech to Goliath), the giant self-identifies with what more broadly we could call the kingdoms of this world, under Satan’s rule, in rebellion against God. Add to that the whole OT teaching on giants (always bad dudes) and its seems reasonable to say that Goliath acts as a “place-marker” for the Enemy trinity of mankind.

  99. Dave said,

    September 27, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    What do you guys think? A “good and necessary inference” interpretation, or a stretch? – Paige

    Well, that’s sort of the heart of the question, isn’t it (not just to your specific example, but in general)? What constitutes a “good and necessary consequence”? A NT endorsement of the particular connection? A well constructed syllogism? Accurate observation of a recurring literary pattern? And once a we believe we have demonstrated a good and necessary consequence, with what degree of confidence may we use that conclusion to support further reasoning to another consequence?

    So for example David & Goliath part of train of OT to NT symbolism/typology? – seed of the woman/seed of the serpent (Gen 3) – David’s stone crushing Goliath’s head – Christ crushing Satan’s head – Satan bruised under the feet of believers (Ro. 16:20). Valid connections? Valid applications for preaching?

  100. Dave said,

    September 27, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Ed Clowney, in PREACHING AND BIBLICAL THEOLOGY on symbols and types:

    “A simple schematism that is helpful here is to regard symbolism as involving a vertical reference to revealed truth as it is manifested in a particular horizon of redemptive history. Typology is then the prospective reference to the same truth as it is manifested in the period of eschatological realization.” – p. 110

    “Thus the offering of the passover lamb symbolizes substitutionary atonement and therefore typifies this aspect of the work of Christ.” – p. 111

    “If we proceed to construct the line of typology only when we have first clarified the symbolism we will be able to work in confidence.” – p. 111

  101. paigebritton said,

    September 27, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Dave —
    Yes! My questions exactly. The Bible is rich with details, and they echo back and forth across books and across Testaments…probably we hear real connections, and just as probably we just imagine that we do.

    Re. the Clowney quotes, it sounds like this formula only works if the OT “type” is a symbol in the first place (lamb, tabernacle, bronze serpent maybe, etc.). Does it also work for real-historical-people types, like David & Goliath?

  102. Dave said,

    September 27, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Symbolism and typology are not the only means of establishing a connection between earlier and later stages of redemptive history in Dr. Clowney’s approach – mediatorial roles, for example, may provide another pattern for drawing connections. He explicitly states that before something can be a type it must be a symbol – “only the symbolic can be typical.” His broader approach is reflected in the following:

    “The constant approach in the development of biblical – theological perspective is to examine all similarities and correspondences, no matter how remote they may seem at first, to determine where a genuine identity of principle exists. Then there must follow an equally careful process of distinction. Some similarities are not significant; they are not occasioned by any common organic element in revelation.” – p.116

  103. Dave said,

    September 27, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    One more quote from Clowney to continue to stir the pot for further discussion:

    “Only the lack of hermeneutical method can shut us up to recognizing types only where the New Testament itself explicitly recognizes them. Such caution is then admirable. But a better grasp of biblical theology will open for us great riches of revelation. We need not lack the sound method to find these and bring them to the people of God.” – p. 111-112

  104. curate said,

    September 28, 2011 at 1:28 am

    The danger with not restricting types to biblically recognised ones is arbitrariness. There has to be a control, or typology goes viral. There are so many types and symbols in the NT that I cannot imagine a need for any more.

    Take the Revelation. It is solid symbolism almost from start to finish, a true compendium. Yet every single one of them is solidly rooted in scripture, and it provides us with an prime example of scripture interpreting scripture.

    On the other hand there is the opposite problem of failing to recognise a symbol, and hence, its meaning. Abraham’s bosom springs to mind. Too often it is taken to be a literal place, rather than a reference to the Abrahamic promises of seed and offspring, belonging to the people of the covenants of promise, ultimately pointing to the resurrection.

  105. curate said,

    September 28, 2011 at 1:33 am

    On a different subject, where does the Bible teach that there are immaterial beings? Even God, the most spiritual being of all, has substance. In the Athanasian Creed we affirm that the three Person are one in substance.

    If he were immaterial he would not exist at all.

    If by immaterial you mean a different kind of substance, then the word immaterial would be a bad choice, because to most people it suggests a complete absence of substance.

  106. Dave said,

    September 28, 2011 at 5:51 am

    Re#104 – Okay, there has to be a control, but does that control have to be “explicit” recognition by the NT? Where then “good and necessary consequence”? Are “solidly rooted” and “explicit” the same?

    And for that matter, where is the explicit identification of Abraham’s bosom as a symbol not a literal place to be found?

  107. paigebritton said,

    September 28, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Dave —
    pardon the confusion: Are biblical people whom we might think of as types then symbolic? Or is it incorrect to call the people “types”? (i.e., is David a “type” because he is symbolic of the kingship? Or is he not a “type,” but a “something else that I don’t know the name of”?)

  108. paigebritton said,

    September 28, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Roger (#105):
    Point taken. I was not trying to be technical about immateriality — just descriptive. Sometimes we mean by “spiritual” non-physical, and I grabbed a word that seemed to fit.

  109. rfwhite said,

    September 28, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Prompted by Dave’s comment above, in a “duh” moment, I realized these works might be right on topic.

    Clowney, Edmund P. Preaching and Biblical Theology. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1961.

    ________. Preaching Christ in All of Scripture. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2003.

    ________. The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament. Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 1988.

  110. curate said,

    September 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Dave, good and necessary consequence are good and necessary.

    Paige, point taken.

  111. paigebritton said,

    September 29, 2011 at 6:14 am

    Thought I’d go straight to the horse’s mouth, so I listened to a 1983 lecture by Ed Clowney (WTS audio archives, under “preaching”) on Typology and Metaphor. Now I understand the part about “if it wasn’t symbolic originally, it isn’t a type” — the example he gave was the red cord that Rahab tied at her windowsill, which has been taken by some to have Christological significance. Not!

    I was sorry not to be able to see the diagram Clowney drew regarding Typology, Symbol, Fulfillment, Allegory & Moralism — but Dr. White tipped me off to this resource, which has the diagram AND a handful of applications of it. (It is part of this site.) Enjoy!!

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