“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21
Although typology is an interesting study, there are rules that must be observed. It is possible to make everything in Scripture a type of something. I have heard some sermons on types that were ridiculous and embarrassing. The safe method is to make sure we have clear Scriptural support for a type.
One such abuse of typology is the teaching that the Apostle John is a type of the church, the body of Christ. Sad to say, it is usually those who are strong advocates of a literal interpretation of Scripture who take these liberties. They warn against spiritualization, unless it supports a personal interpretation of their own.
I do not find any Scriptural support for making John a type of anything. I think those who use him, do so to support the idea that the church age is in the first three chapter of Revelation. The next step is to spiritualize John in order to find the rapture of the church in chapter four where John is caught up to heaven. Remember, there is a clear difference between an intended type and an application or illustration.
Hartill’s “Principles of Biblical Hermeneutics” p. 48 says, “The Typical Principle”
Definition: A type is a divinely appointed illustration of some scriptural truth.
Classification of types:
1. A Person: One whose life illustrates some great principle or truth of redemption.
2. An event— Such as experiences of Israel (1 Cor. 10:11)
3. A thing such as the brazen serpent (Num. 21) or the veil of the Temple (Heb. 10:20).
4. Ritual types— This includes the offerings, priesthood, tabernacle, Passover Feast etc.
Interpretation of types: A true type must be…
1. A true picture of the person or thing it represents or prefigures (Col. 2:17).
2. Of divine appointment
3. A picture which prefigures something future.
A type must never be used to teach a doctrine, but only to illustrate a doctrine elsewhere explicitly taught (cf. John 3:14; 1 Cor. 5:7).
So, the “catching up” of John into heaven might illustrate the rapture of the church, however, it is a stretch to teach that he represents the church. As we said before, those who make John a type, do so to protect the idea that the body of Christ is in the first three chapters of Revelation and then raptured at chapter four. It is not. The church has long been raptured before Revelation 1:1. The body of Christ is nowhere to be found in the book of Revelation.
Pastor Ken Blue was born in Boswell, Ark. In 1955 he accepted Christ as his Savior. He and his wife Joyce were married in 1955. They have 5 children. He graduated from Midwestern Baptist Bible College in 1969 and started the Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, Wa. where he pastored for 39 years. Because of health issues (ALS) he was forced to resign as pastor. It is his desire to continue to be used of God to help pastors and believers through this ministry.