Category Archives: Bible Study

Jonathan Edwards and the Typology of Nature


Typology is a sticky subject. Which passages can we consider typological? Which can’t we?

Jonathan Edwards liked typology so much that he extended it beyond Scripture and into the natural world. He assumed that if the world was made by the God of the Bible we would see things in the world and its created order that pointed us to truths about God.

Some examples:

“Children’s coming into the world naked and filthy, and in their blood, and crying and impotent, is to signify the spiritual nakedness, pollution of nature and wretchedness of condition with which they are born.”

Is it true that childbirth is a messy, ugly business? Yes. Is it true that children are born sinners? Yes. Does the one point to the other? I’m not convinced.

“The serpent’s charming of birds and other animals into their mouths, and the spider’s taking of the fly in his snare, are lively representations of the devil’s catching our souls by his temptations.”

Do serpents and spiders lure and snare their prey? Absolutely. Does the enemy lure and snare his prey? Absolutely. Does the one point to the other? Where’s the proof?

“The sun’s so perpetually, for so many ages, sending forth his rays in such vast profusion, without any dimunition of his light and heat, is a bright image of the all-sufficiency and everlastingness of God’s bounty and goodness.”

Does the sun shine seemingly forever? Surely. Is God all-sufficient and good? Surely. Does the one point to the other? Possibly.

The real problem with nature typology is that it’s so imprecise. Where can we verify its findings? How can we tell that the sun points to Yahweh and not Allah? At most it is corroboration of the truths revealed in the Bible.

My recommendation is to stick to typology within the Bible. It’s much more clear and it’s much more precise.

All three citations are from page 54 of the Yale edition of The Works of Jonathan Edwards vol 11, Typological Writings.

Is Strong’s Concordance Reliable?

Is it reliable?

The most-visited page on my website remains How NOT To Use Strong’s Concordance. It’s slightly frustrating that a page which has essentially nothing to do with this site’s central message is it’s all-time leader in views, pulling in more than quadruple the amount of search traffic as most other sections of the site. I’m not too frustrated however because the gospel-centered hermeneutic I’m dedicated to here is a much narrower niche. So I thought I’d pause a moment and answer a question I see a lot about Strong’s concordance: Is it reliable?

This is the final entry in a series of posts on the use of Strong’s Concordance:

How NOT To Use Strong’s Concordance
How NOT To Use Strong’s Concordance Part 2
How To Properly Use Strong’s Concordance
A Good Example of Using Strong’s Concordance
Is Strong’s Concordance Reliable?

When asking questions about “reliability” and “accuracy” you need to first answer the question, “What are you trying to be accurate about?” If you want to measure the size of a book then a ruler is your best bet. If you want to measure the number of votes for a presidential election a ruler, however accurate, isn’t what you want. That task requires a ballot box.

So when we ask if Strong’s concordance is reliable we need to ask ourselves what we’re trying to do with it first. Remember the most important insight from the first article:

Strong’s is primarily a concordance, not a dictionary. A dictionary defines words. A concordance acts like an index.

What does that mean? Just like the ruler, it’s accurate for one thing and useless for another. Continue reading

Did Moses Know the Passover was Prophetic?

The Passover and subsequent exodus was the most significant redemptive event in the history of Israel. It’s primary symbol was the lamb that was sacrificed to prevent the same destruction that hit the houses of Egypt from striking the houses of Israel. It’s no wonder that the New Testament writers made reference to the Passover lamb when writing about Christ and the greater redemption he accomplished for us:

Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
1 Cor 5:7

It’s great to draw analogies between OT redemptive acts of God and NT redemptive acts of God. But is it legitimate to say that the OT redemptive act was prophetic (i.e. predicted) the greater NT action? Take for instance:

So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.”
John 19:32–36.

John is referring to this description of the Passover lamb:

It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones.
Ex 12:46

But the original context of Exodus 12 has no reference to a future event. It’s all about Israel’s situation in Egypt. So did John just pretend that it was a prophecy? Did he invent a new meaning for this text?

Why This Matters

This is a big deal because it could mean that John wasn’t being faithful to Scripture as he was writing Scripture. That would make us doubt at least John’s writings and then cast suspicion on the rest of the Bible as well.

It would also raise questions like: Continue reading

Free eBook – The Scarlet Thread Through the Bible

The Scarlet Thread Through the Bible

I haven’t gotten a chance to read it yet but you might want to download a free copy of W.A. Criswell’s The Scarlet Thread Through the Bible. From the description:

There is a scarlet thread that runs throughout the Bible and it is the binding that holds the pages of the Scripture together. That great scarlet thread is redemption through Jesus Christ. In this book, Criswell traces the scarlet thread of redemption from the blood of covering after the fall in the Garden of Eden to the blood-washed multitude standing before the throne of God in eternity.

Get the book for the price of just your contact info. You can even click the box to not have them contact you in the future.

And if you still haven’t read my free eBook on gospel-centered preaching and teaching check out Christ-Centered Bible Study.

Maybe Leviticus SHOULD Bore You

This is an exploration of what a Christo-yearning hermeneutic might look like.

Was your New Year’s resolution to read the Bible in a year? Genesis was interesting. Exodus is pretty riveting. But Leviticus? Not so much. This is going to sound somewhat blasphemous but…

Maybe Leviticus is supposed to be boring.

Why might that be? Vern Poythress explains:

Are you bored by the repetitious descriptions in Leviticus 1-9 of how each animal is sacrificed or the descriptions in Numbers 7 of the offerings of the tribes? There is more food for thought in these passages than we suspect, but in a sense we are meant to be bored.

Wait… we’re supposed to be bored? This is God’s word we’re talking about. Shouldn’t it be exciting and invigorating? Poythress continues: Continue reading

Gregory the Great’s Use of Allegory And the Better Priest

In Leviticus 21 God outlines requirements for the priests of Israel. One part of this passage says that those suffering from physical disabilities are not to serve as priests:

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron, saying, None of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God. For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles. No man of the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the LORD’s food offerings; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God.
Lev 21:16–21

Now, how should we interpret this? Gregory the Great treated this passage allegorically in chapter 11 of his “Book of Pastoral Rule” – a manual for pastors. What is allegory? Here’s a reminder:

When we call something a symbol but the Bible doesn’t support that conclusion we’ve just created allegory.
- What is Typology?

So how did this work out for Gregory? Let’s take a look: Continue reading