The OPC Report on Republication, Part 6

In this post, we will address the first part of Chapter 2 of Part 1 of the report, which addresses the subject of typology. Typology is much disdained in today’s academia, since it assumes a Christian view of the Bible. Even in Fairbairn’s time (Patrick Fairbairn is the author of what is surely the most definitive work on the subject), typology was on the decline. What is typology? Typology is NOT allegory a mistake commonly made even today. Some have merely said that typology was akin to allegory. Others have said that there is practically no difference. The difference is actually rather easy to see. Typology sees a historical connection between something in the Old Testament and something in the New Testament. There is always a crescendo, or heightening in the process whereby the antitype is better than the type. The New Testament itself does this on several occasions. 1 Peter 3 refers to baptism as an antitype of Noah’s flood. Romans 5 calls Adam a “type” of Christ (verse 14). Again, in 1 Corinthians 10, things that happened in the time of Moses are called “types” for our benefit (verse 6). There is therefore a typology of the New Testament, at the very least, that we can explore. Allegory is not tied to two historical events. It takes one historical event and idealizes it, such that the pattern is attached to the air. It should be noted that the word “allegory” does not, of itself, point to the concept. Paul uses the word, but not the concept, of allegory in Galatians 4. Hagar and Sarah are types of historical realities, not idealizations. Therefore, even though Paul uses the word “allegorize,” he is not allegorizing.

The main question that the report addresses is the scope of typology. According to the report, those who hold to various forms of republication have a more expanded view of typology in the Mosaic economy. There are various aspects of the Mosaic economy that non-republication folks can see as typological. Examples here would include the Red Sea crossing and the Rock of 1 Corinthians 10. The question the report addresses is whether priestly obedience in the Mosaic economy can be assigned a typological function to point forward to an antitypical perfect obedience of Christ. The report seems non-committal on the question, but leans towards opposing such a view (their word is “unlikely”). This is only one particular aspect of the Mosaic economy, of course. It is not clear how other aspects of typology that republication advocates point to would be handled.


  1. January 17, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Their non-committal stance on ‘typology’ is not the best in my view. This is something that needed addressing and much more clarity because the issue is central to the modern republication view.

  2. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 18, 2017 at 7:25 am


    Nonetheless, neither in reflections on active obedience nor in reflections on priestly work did assembly members seem to have in mind accounts of Levitical priestly obedience that adumbrate the active obedience of Christ.[43] Further research may show otherwise, but from the angle of priestly work, then, it seems unlikely that a works principle may be intended in mention of “other types and ordinances … delivered to the people of the Jews” (WCF 7.5; LC 34).

    So I don’t have my copy of Turretin at hand, but it is my recollection that in the discussion of being under the Law, Turretin describes the priestly services as one of the important ways in which Israel was under the law.

    To wit, that when Israelites performed the required sacrifices, they were outwardly absolved of the outward penalties of sin.

    Wouldn’t that be an example of a Reformed authority finding a works principle in the priestly work?

    Also, what of Hebrews 5?

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