How to Study the Bible, by Watchman Nee


In order to study the types in the Old Testament, we must first have a foundation of the New Testament. The New Testament speaks of Christ, His redemption, the church, and the Holy Spirit. These are four great spiritual things. The chief types in the Old Testament are types of these four things. They either typify Christ, redemption, the church, or the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament we see the photograph before we see the person. In the New Testament we first see the person, and then we go back to the Old Testament to see the photograph. If we have seen the reality of Christ, redemption, the church, and the Holy Spirit, it is much easier for us to see the Old Testament types.

The re-creation in Genesis 1 is a type of the new creation. In chapter two Eve is a type of the church in its sinless state. When we think of ourselves, we think of sin because we are inseparably linked to sin. Yet God shows us that the relationship between Christ and the church is apart from sin, for their relationship began in Genesis 2 not Genesis 3. Adam was related to Eve in Genesis 2. Hence, their relationship had nothing to do with sin, even as Christ and the church have nothing to do with sin. When we think of the church, we should never think of sin. In God’s eyes the church has no sin. The Lord Jesus’ death for the sinner was for the remission of sin. But His death for the church was not for sin but for life. In Genesis 3 we see the fig leaves and the skins of animals. In chapter four we see the offerings. Later, we see Isaac. Who is Isaac? Is he a type of the church, the Holy Spirit, redemption, or the Lord Jesus? In reading the New Testament, we can see that Isaac somewhat typifies the Lord Jesus. Isaac was not only born of Abraham or Sarah; he was born of promise. Hence, Isaac somewhat resembles the Lord Jesus. To Sarah, Isaac was his father’s only begotten son. This again resembles the Lord Jesus. To Abraham, everything that Isaac had was inherited; Isaac simply enjoyed his inheritance. In this respect he indeed resembles the Lord Jesus. God sent the Holy Spirit to the world. The Spirit secured the church and espoused it to Christ as the Lamb’s wife. Isaac’s father sent his old servant to his own country and tribe to find a woman, Rebekah, to be Isaac’s wife. There is a correspondence here. If we compare the Old Testament and the New Testament, we can find many things in the New Testament that match the Old Testament types. In Galatians, Isaac typifies the spiritual Christians. Ishmael typifies a fleshly walk in the church, while Isaac typifies a spiritual walk. Ishmael was begotten by Abraham through Hagar, that is, through the flesh. He typifies man’s own work. Isaac was born after Abraham gave up any hope of a child being born; he was born of God’s promise. Hence, he typifies the work of the Holy Spirit. This is just one example of types. If we go through the Bible chapter by chapter, we will find many different types. The book that provides the most types is Genesis. We can say that Genesis is the nursery from which the seedlings of the whole Bible grow.

The whole book of Exodus is a type of our salvation from the world. The Passover is a type of the breaking of bread. The crossing of the Red Sea is a type of baptism. The murmuring and sojourning in the wilderness are types of God’s children in their various conditions. The living water is a type of the Holy Spirit.

The tabernacle is a type of our Lord Jesus while He sojourned on the earth. It is also a type of our sojourn in the world. The tabernacle did not have a floor, and it was pitched in the wilderness. We have to wait until the New Jerusalem before we will see the streets of gold. While we are passing through this world, we have a glorious fellowship with the Lord. God’s goal for us is Canaan; He does not want us to remain in the wilderness.

(How to Study the Bible, Chapter 5, by Watchman Nee)