Old Covenant vs. New Covenant: Types and Shadows

“The Scapegoat” by William Holman Hunt, circa 1854

Hello again! I hope you are enjoying these final days of November before the crush of December hits us all. It was good of you to return after that whole covenant household discussion.

One thing that we must determine when considering the differences between the Old and New Covenants is the significance of the types and shadows that existed under the former. The writer of Hebrews discusses this subject at length, and the way in which we interpret those words can have a major impact on how we view both covenants. Therefore, today’s question is,

What was the significance of the Old Covenant types and shadows?

There are five Greek words used in the New Testament that all seem to point to this idea of a “type”. The first is typos, which refers to a figure that is created by an impression. Metaphorically, it can refer to a form of something. The second is antitypos, which shares the same root and also refers to the process of forming something based on a pattern—but do note the prefix “anti”. The third is parabolē, which implies something that is compared to or has the likeness of something else. The fourth is hypodeigma, which can be a figure, sign, or example. The final such word is skia, which refers to a shadow, specifically in this case an image that is created from the shade of something else. (Any bolded English words in the block quotes of this article represent a translation of one of these five Greek words.) Continue reading