Mixing Types and Antitypes in the Blender


The name of my blog is contrast. If you take a look on the about page, you will see why I chose that name. I believe that contrast is essential to learning. We learn what something is by learning what it is not. Now, a lot of what I have been thinking about regarding the covenants has to do with types and antitypes. Isaac was a type. Christ was the antitype. There were many similarities between Isaac and Christ and certainly we can see much of God’s plan of Redemption foreshadowed in Isaac. Yet Isaac is not Christ.

This seems clear enough, but when we begin to talk about the nation of Israel, suddenly the blender gets switched on.

A good example of this is the discussion I have read regarding Law and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant. This post from Mark Jones is a good example of the problem (IMO): Law and Grace at Sinai. Give it a read if you’re not familiar with what I am referring to, or this Re-Publication of the Covenant of Works from R. Scott Clark.

Basically, proponents of Re-Publication see the obvious conditional statements in the Mosaic Covenant and thus argue that it is a Re-Publication of the Covenant of Works. Opponents of this rightly say Sinai cannot possibly be a Re-Publication of the Covenant of Works for various reasons. But they then conclude that the Mosaic Covenant is entirely gracious!

The way they do so is they compare Israel with the church. Or, rather, they say Israel is the church. They then say that our salvation in Jesus Christ does not exempt us from work. Though we are justified, our sanctification involves us working and bearing the fruit of our justification. The same thing is true of Israel, they say. Israel was saved out of slavery in Egypt and brought to the Promised Land. Thus the Mosaic Covenant is a law given to an already redeemed people, not as a requirement for them, but rather as a means of sanctification.

An example from Mark Jones:

I think we also need to recognize that there are unconditional promises and conditional promises in Scripture.  A promise doesn’t somehow lose its promissory value because there are conditions attached.  And this principle is not limited to the OT. Just read 1 Peter 1 (esp. 1:8; 1:9; 1:17; 2:2; 2:19-20; 3:1-2; 3:7; 4:14; 5:7; 5:9-10).  Right conduct in Peter leads to blessing.  Peter hasn’t somehow becomes a Judaizer!

Notice what he is doing. He is attempting to view everything in Scripture through the lens of the New Covenant. In the New Covenant, members are justified and eternally saved by grace apart from works, and the law is a response and a means of blessing – therefore it must be the same in the Old Covenant!

His reasoning goes something like this:

The Mosaic covenant includes Exodus 17-24, not just chapter 20.  In chapter 19 the call for obedience to God’s commands is based on redemption.  In fact, imperatives in Scripture are based on the indicative (see Ex. 20; Deut. 26; Eph. 1-6; 1 Peter 1; 2 Cor. 5:14-15; Rom 6).  Israel, in chapter 19 of Exodus are God’s people!

Note what he is referring to: Ex. 20:2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” God “redeemed” Israel from slavery in Egypt. They no longer belonged to Israel, but now they are “God’s people.” This is a beautiful type of our salvation in Christ. But it is a type. It is not actual eternal salvation through faith. The nation of Israel was not “God’s people” in the same way that members of the New Covenant are “God’s people” (though certainly individual true believers existed within Israel).

Continuing in his defense for viewing the Mosaic Covenant as pure grace, Mark notes:

These verses speak of the glorious privileges of being bondservants to the Lord.  What a perversion to treat the law as a burden when we are talking in the realm of having been redeemed.  Notice the rewards: prosperity, life, and righteousness!  This might be offensive but we clearly read that Moses is assuming belief and thus they are in a position to be righteous as they keep his commands.

Woah, wait a minute. I thought we were talking about how God “redeemed” Israel out of Egypt. Now we’re supposed to understand redeemed to mean that God gave the entire nation of Israel new hearts and justified them by the blood of Christ, producing in them true faith? What happened to Israel’s redemption being a type? Do you see the jump that was made from type to antitype?

The issue here is that the Mosaic Covenant is clearly works based. In order to get around this, Mark and others say that the Old Covenant is essentially the same as the New Covenant. And thus they interpret the Old Covenant along New Covenant lines.

In the end, I’m happy with the WCF; I’m happy to vigorously separate law and grace in justification, but in sanctification (obedience) I see a basic pattern in Scripture that allows me to posit a single covenant of grace in the history of redemption.

So Mark solves the dilemma by claiming that the Mosaic Covenant is concerned only with sanctification for a redeemed people. But this is quite absurd. I would not call exile and famine sanctification. I would call it a curse.

In bringing the issue into the New Testament and trying to understand Paul’s commentary on the Mosaic Covenant in Galatians, Mark notes that “The Judaizers had abused Moses.” This is true, but how exactly? Mark would seem to be saying that the Judaizers abused Moses by thinking that obedience to the Mosaic Covenant earned them something, when in reality they should have viewed it as a proper response to already being redeemed, and that it did not earn them anything.

I disagree. I believe that the Judaizers’ abuse of Moses was their belief that the Mosaic Covenant was about eternal life. It never was. It was about temporal life and temporal blessings. And they had to work for those temporal blessings, or they would be physically cursed and/or physically killed. The error of the Judaizers was not their proper understanding of the merit basis of the Mosaic Covenant. Their error was a misunderstanding of the blessings promised by the Mosaic Covenant. Eternal life was never offered as a reward for adherence to the law of Moses.

And thus I would close by paralleling Mark. I am not happy with the WCF. I am not happy to conflate the type with the antitype. I do not see the Mosaic Covenant as “an administration” of the New Covenant of Grace.

There is no doubt in my mind that many have been led astray when considering the typical teaching of Israel’s history and the antitype in the experience of Christians, by failing to duly note the contrasts as well as the comparisons between them. It is true that God’s deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt blessedly foreshadowed the redemption of His elect form sin and Satan; yet let it not be forgotten that the majority of those who were emancipated from Pharaoh’s slavery perished in the wilderness, not being suffered to enter the promised land.

Nor are we left to mere reasoning at this point: it is placed upon inspired record that “behold, the days come saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord” (Heb. 8:8,9).

Thus we have divine authority for saying that God’s dealings with Israel at Sinai were not a parallel with His dealings with His people under the gospel, but a contrast!

-Mr. Pink, The Divine Covenants

17 thoughts on “Mixing Types and Antitypes in the Blender

  1. If I understand him correctly, I agree with Matt’s comments on the “Law and Grace at Sinai” post.

    If I have misunderstood or misrepresented anything, please let me know.


  2. Hi Brandon,

    A good bit of the older (classic) Reformed tradition didn’t feel pressed to choose between the notions that Moses (the old covenant defined strictly) was a pedagogical republication of the covenant of works AND, inasmuch as the same people who were under Moses were also part of the Abrahamic covenant, an administration of the covenant of grace.

    We can say “both…and” if we recognize that the Mosaic was a temporary superstructure added to the Abrahamic or if we say with Paul in Gal 3 that Moses was a codicil added to the covenant of grace. It didn’t change the terms of the covenant of grace.

    Thus, the Israelites were “under law” typologically, nationally, temporarily relative to their status as the national people. Inasmuch as, however, they were members of the church (and they were) they were also party to the typological administration of the covenant of grace. Salvation was sola gratia et sola fide under Moses as it was under Abrahamic.

    What expired with Christ were all the typological elements (bloodshed and judicial laws) and everything that was distinctively Mosaic. We should resist the move to associate everything we don’t like, as some do, e.g., the Sabbath, with Moses in order to be rid of it.




    1. Thanks for your comments Dr. Clark. I appreciate all the feedback I can get in working this out.

      Salvation was sola gratia et sola fide under Moses as it was under Abrahamic.

      Yes, but not by virtue of the Mosaic Covenant, which was strictly concerned with temporal things. Would you agree?

      Inasmuch as, however, they were members of the church (and they were)

      If we are to understand the church as the body of Christ, then yes, some Israelites were. But certainly not all. Thus it would be incorrect to simply label the nation as the body of Christ.

      We should resist the move to associate everything we don’t like, as some do, e.g., the Sabbath, with Moses in order to be rid of it.

      For my own clarification, do you see me doing that? If so, with what?



  3. I read a quote from O. Palmer Robertson in support of what I said above:

    “Old Covenant Israel may be regarded as a typological representation of the elect people of God… The old covenant nation of Israel typologically anticipated the new covenant reality of the chosen people of God assembled as a nation consecrated to God.” (The Christ of the Covenants pp. 288-289)


  4. Hi Brandon

    Like Nick I would say this is good stuff. I am not 100% convinced because I am not sure that the Law promised blessings that were only temporal. When the NT contrasts the old covenant with the new covenant is contrast is not always between shadow and substance (type and reality) though this plays an important part, especially in Hebrews. Paul’s concerns however, are between two means of ‘life’.

    The OC promised ‘life’ upon obedience (works) when it said ‘this do and live’. The NC promised ‘life’ by faith when it said ‘the just shall live by faith’. The problem with making the OC life simply temporal/typological (life in the land) is that it introduces a contrast Paul does not ie two different definitions of ‘life’.

    Of course, I am clear the OC could not deliver life, human sin prevented that, yet nevertheless ‘life’ in the eternal sense seems to be their potentially.

    Or to come from another direction – if someone lived a sinless life under the Law would they not ‘live’ (existentially and eternally)? An impossibility to a fallen person I know yet nevertheless a covenant promise if they did.

    Similarly with the curse. Does the curse simply end in expulsion from the land? Does it not stretch beyond that for individuals where faith is lacking into eternal exile? When Jesus takes the curse of a broken law upon himself in Gal 3 is it simply a temporal curse he bears or an eternal curse?


    1. Thanks for the comments John. You are missing an important part of this whole discussion: the law of creation and the covenant with Adam, of which the Mosaic covenant was a shadow/copy (unless you think no one was eternally condemned prior to the Mosaic covenant?). Take a look at Owen (and Pink if you have the time), and then I’d love to discuss the merits of their view with you.


  5. Pingback: Pink & NCT, Circumcision, the Mosaic Covenant, Republication + Owen & other posts related to our last two podcasts [Brandon Adams] | The Confessing Baptist

  6. “Opponents of this rightly say Sinai cannot possibly be a Re-Publication of the Covenant of Works for various reasons.”

    Do you mean it’s not a republication in that it doesn’t offer eternal life? I see it as a republication to different ends.


  7. markmcculley

    Those who oppose Kline on Mosaic Covenant write–in order for something to be a type, it must be a real means of grace for the people of God living in the time of its use …. In the nature of the case, a means of grace is governed solely by grace. How can something defined by merit in contrast to grace communicate grace to the one who performs it? (MM 130-31 n 23).
    Lee Irons—In other words, all types must typify grace. Therefore, they argue, the works principle or merit cannot be typified in the OT. Response: This principle (that all types must typify grace and cannot typify the works principle) would rule out Adam from being a type of Christ. And what about the types prefiguring the day of judgment throughout the OT? For example, Noah’s flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the plagues of Egypt, the conquest of the Canaanites, the expulsion of Israel from the land in the exile. These are not symbols of grace but of wrath. http://upper-register.typepad.com/…/merit-and-moses..


  8. markmcculley

    David Van Drunen —a number of recent Reformed commentators acknowledge that Paul is sharply contrasting faith and works of the law in these and parallel passages, yet deny that the Mosaic law itself can be contrasted with faith (in this sense adopting a similar conclusion to many New Perspective advocates). Instead, these Reformed commentators
    believe that when Paul quotes Lev 18:5 or refers otherwise to the law so as to contrast it with faith he thinks not of the Mosaic law itself but of the law as misinterpreted in a legalistic way by his Jewish contemporaries.36 In my judgment this line of interpretation should also be rejected.37 That Paul dealt with people whom he judged to have misinterpreted the purposes of the Mosaic law is unquestionable, but that the law itself stood in contrast to faith, at least in certain respects, was Paul’s own view. That Paul would concede the interpretation of Lev 18:5 to legalistic Judaizers both in Gal 3:12 and Rom 10:5 (where he introduces his quote by saying, “Moses writes” about the righteousness of the law) is farfetched. Furthermore, in Gal 3:19 Paul asks a rhetorical question, understandable in light of the contrast of law and faith in previous verses: “Why then the law?” His explanation in 3:19-4:7 is that God’s own purpose in giving the Mosaic law was to keep his people imprisoned under sin for a time, a condition from which Christ released those who believe in him. In this same section of Galatians Paul speaks of Christ himself being “born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law” (4:4-5), which must be speaking of the Mosaic law in the light of preceding verses. As Israel was under the Mosaic law so Christ came under the Mosaic law. Yet Paul could hardly have been asserting that Christ, whom he says elsewhere “knew no sin” (2 Cor 5:21), lived under a subjective misinterpretation of the law. Both Christ and the Israelites came “under the law” in an objective sense that reflected God’s own purposes in giving it—but where the Israelites failed Christ prevailed. (pp 316-18) David VanDrunen, ISRAEL’S RECAPITULATION OF ADAM’S PROBATION UNDER THE LAW OF MOSES, WTJ 73 (2011): 303-24


  9. http://upper-register.typepad.com/blog/2015/08/merit-and-moses-flawed-typology-part-2.html John Brown (1784–1858) wrote a book titled, The Sufferings and Glories of the Messiah (1853), which contained a detailed exegesis of Psalm 18 and Isaiah 53. He argued that Psalm 18 ought to be interpreted as a Messianic Psalm right along with Psalms 2, 16, 22, 40, and 110. He believed that in Psalm 18 “a greater than David is here—that, so far as the subject of the psalm is concerned, David is not here at all, except, it may be, in the way of allusive illustration” (p. 25). When he came to verses 20-24, he interpreted them as referring typologically to the merit of Christ:

    In the fourth section of this Messianic psalm … we find the beloved Servant of Jehovah, delivered from all his enemies and the power of the grave, representing, in his solemn thanksgiving, his deliverance and exaltation as the expression of Jehovah’s entire satisfaction with his conduct, and as the merited reward of his having become obedient—obedient even to the death …. “The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me …” [Ps 18:20ff]. The words before us are an acknowledgment, on the part of the delivered and rewarded Messiah, of the righteousness of Jehovah in his deliverance and reward. The general idea is,—These wonderful works of Jehovah, which have just been commemorated, are the merited expression of his entire righteous approbation of, and most complacent holy delight in, his humbled and suffering Servant’s person and work (pp. 97-98


  10. Pingback: Heidelcast “I Will Be a God to You and to Your Children” | Contrast

  11. markmcculley

    Lusk argument– There is a typological continuum from Moses to Jesus–the New Testament places the law of Moses and the gospel of Christ in a typological continuum. So far from contrasting Jesus and Moses in an absolute fashion, New Testament writers clearly portray Jesus as a new and greater Moses.
    In Jesus, the person and work of Moses are recapitulated and escalated. Jesus is the
    prophet like Moses that God promised to send his people (Acts 3:22). His cross
    accomplishes a greater exodus (cf. Luke 9:31), rescuing the covenant people from
    the greater Pharaoh of sin and death … Both Moses and Jesus are delivered from
    Egypt (cf. Exodus 1-2 and Matthew 1-2) … both were transfigured on a mountain
    (cf. Exodus 34:29-35 and Matthew 17:1-9), both gave expositions of the law for a
    new situation facing Israel (cf. Deuteronomy as a whole and Matthew 5-7) … both
    interceded for a disobedient Israel (cf. Exodus 34 and Luke 23:34) … both led
    Passover celebrations … and on and on we could go. If the New Testament writers
    truly wanted to juxtapose the ministry of Moses with the ministry of Christ, they
    chose a very odd strategy for doing so! Indeed, they have presented Moses as the
    typological forerunner to Jesus, not his theological adversary.”

    Lee Irons—Moses was indeed a type of Christ. But Moses performed more than one office in the economy of redemption. His proper office was to inaugurate the Old Covenant with its
    blessings and curses (Dt. 29:1; Heb. 9:18-20). But Moses also served the LORD in terms
    of the administration of the underlying covenant of grace. God raised Moses up to deliver
    Israel from captivity in Egypt, in fulfillment of the prior oath to Abraham (Acts 7:30-36;
    cp. Exodus 2:24; 3:6). When Moses interceded on behalf of Israel, he was acting not as a
    mediator of the Old Covenant but as a priestly figure interceding with God…his promises according to the covenant of grace. The fact that he was administering the
    covenant of grace is made evident in his intercessory prayer, where he appeals not to the
    Law but to the promises that God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 32:11-
    14). There is no conflict, then, because the typological connections Lusk cites have to do
    with Moses’ secondary role as a priestly mediator of the covenant of grace.

    Click to access law_gospel_10args.pdf


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s