Reading The OT Through Gospel Glasses.

Oftentimes when we read the OT we totally miss the point because we don’t apply the rules of typology and sound biblical exegesis. This post will give you some simple tools to help you read the Old Testament properly.

Typology

The first thing we need to understand about the Old Testament (OT) is that it primarily exists to provide types and shadows of Jesus Christ who is the anti-type or substance of the New Covenant. This is known as “typology.”

If you’re reading the OT and not seeing types of Jesus and shadows of the new covenant, then you’re reading it wrong.

What is a “type” or “shadow” of Jesus Christ?

Simply put, a type or shadow is a person, place or thing that symbolizes, exemplifies or shares common characteristics with Jesus Christ or the Gospel.

Three kinds of writing in the Bible.

The Bible is a beautiful library of Holy Spirit inspired writing which contains many different forms and genres of literature. However, there are three main kinds of writing in the Bible.

Descriptive: This is writing that describes a person, place or thing; writing that gives an account of an actual historical event or narrative. Examples of this kind of writing are the creation narrative, the story of Daniel and the lion’s den or the entire book of Numbers.

Prescriptive: This is writing that tells the reader what to do and how to do it. It serves as prescription to the reader. An example would be, “Put on the whole armour of God.” (Ephesians 6:11)

Predictive: These are written accounts of the oracles and visions given by God to the prophets which predict the future. An example of this kind of writing is, “He was wounded for our transgressions.” (Isaiah 53:5)

When reading the entire Bible, especially the OT, we must determine what kind of writing we are reading. This simple practice regulates what we can do with the text and keeps us from missing the point. By this I mean that you can’t take a descriptive text like the story of David and Goliath and turn it in to an allegory about your life or a prescription to follow.

Three ways to read the Bible

Just as there are three main kinds of writing the Bible, there are three ways to read the Bible.

Exegesis: This is the only proper way to read the Bible. Exegesis is a Greek word which means to “draw out” from the text what it actually says. We are able to do this by the instruction of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have told you.”

John 14:26

Eisegesis: This is the opposite of exegesis and should be avoided at all costs. It means to “draw in” to a text what the reader wants it to say. This happens when a person formulates their opinion and then goes to the Bible to back it up.

Narcigesis: This is also a very dangerous way to read the Bible because it inserts the reader into the biblical story and often turns a descriptive text into an allegory about the reader’s life or situation thus leading to confusion and a mishandling of the text.

Three rules for understanding the Bible

Know the context: Every book in the Bible was written within a historical, social and geographical context. Knowing this helps us understand what is being said to the original audience and how it can apply to us today, thousands of years later.

Know the context: Every chapter and verse in the Bible fits within the theme and purpose of the book in which it is written. Reading individual verses without studying the verses, paragraphs and chapters surrounding them leads us into error. Be careful of proof-texting, the most dangerous form of eisegesis.

Know the context: The Old Testament and New Testament are two distinct portions of God’s written word. One cannot be fully understood without the other. We must learn to see everything we read in the Bible within the context of the covenants.

Final Thoughts

Everything written in the OT testifies about Jesus.

And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form,  nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.  You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me,  yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

John 5:37-40

Everything God is saying has been spoken through Jesus.

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

Hebrews 1:1-4

I hope you have found this post helpful as you seek to understand the Scriptures better and learn to read the OT through Gospel glasses.

In His grip,

Matthew