Typology is a form of symbolism that is prophetic. In Old Testament typology, there are people and objects that pre-figure, foreshadow, “whisper” of, or “point” to something that is yet to happen or someone (most often Jesus) who is yet to come. Joseph is clearly seen as a type of Jesus throughout his life.
From comparative miracles at birth:
- Joseph was born when His father was 90 and his mother had been barren.
- Jesus was the Son of the Ancient of Days and His mother was a virgin.
— to similar promises made at the times of their deaths:
- Joseph told his people that God would give them the Promised Land (Gen 50:24).
- Jesus promised all the riches of glory would be given to those who are His (John 17).
— the parallels in the lives of Joseph and Jesus illustrate how Joseph served as a type of Jesus to prefigure, foreshadow, point to, and whisper of, the One who would come to save the world.
Gleanings in Genesis by AW Pink
In his expositional teaching on the Book of Genesis, AW Pink (1886-1952) wrote about the patriarch Joseph as a type of Christ. Providing 60 specifics, Pink’s teaching helps us to “see” Jesus, prior to His incarnation, by revealing His Person and works through types. Types serve as a prophetic message because they always point to someone, something, someplace, or some event that is yet to be. Read AW Pink’s list of parallels between the patriarch Joseph and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ:
Chapters 37 and 38
1. Joseph was a shepherd (Gen. 37:2); Jesus is the Great Shepherd (John 10).
2. Joseph was opposed to and exposed evil (Gen. 37:2); Jesus did the same.
3. Joseph was loved by his father (Gen. 37:3-4); Jesus was beloved by the Father (Mat. 3:17; 17:5; John 10:17; Philippians 2:9).
4. Joseph was hated by his brothers (Gen. 37:4); Jesus was hated by His brothers (John 1:11; Luke 19:14).
5. Joseph was hated for his words (Gen. 37:8); Jesus was hated for His words (John 7:7; 3:32).
6. Joseph was promised a remarkable future (Gen. 37:7-12); Jesus looked past the cross to the joy set before Him (Isaiah 9:6, 7; Luke 1:31-33; Hebrews 12:2).
7. Joseph foretold of his future sovereignty (Gen. 37:7-12); Jesus did the same (Mat. 26:64).
8. Joseph was envied by his brothers (Gen. 37:11); Jesus was envied by His brethren (Mat. 27:17-18).
9. Joseph was sent by his father to his brothers (Gen. 37:13); Jesus was sent by His father to the ‘lost sheep of Israel’ (John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38-40; 12:48-50; 17:21).
10. Joseph sought his brothers (Gen. 37:14-17); Jesus sought His brethren (Luke 19:10).
11. Joseph sought the welfare of his brothers (Gen. 37:14); Jesus came not to condemn but that the world might be saved through Him (John 3:17).
12. Joseph’s father sent him to seek his brothers and find them (Gen 37:14-17); Jesus’ Father sent Him to seek and find us (Lk 19:10).
13. Joseph was conspired against (Gen. 37:18); Jesus was also conspired against (Mat. 12:14).
14. Joseph’s brothers did not believe his dreams (Gen. 37:19, 29); Jesus’ brethren did not believe His words (Mat. 27:39-43; John 3:18, 36).
15. Joseph was stripped of his coat (Gen. 37:23); Jesus was stripped of His coat (Mat. 27:27, 28; John 19:23).
16. Joseph was cast into a pit (Gen. 37:24); Jesus was put in a tomb (Mat. 27:59-60).
17. Joseph was taken out of the pit, alive in his body (Gen. 37:28); Jesus was bodily resurrected from the tomb (1 Cor 15:4).
18. Joseph’s brothers mingled hypocrisy with their hatred (Gen. 37:27); the Jews did the same with Jesus (Mat. 27:35, 36; John 18:28, 31).
19. Joseph was sold for the price of a slave (Gen. 37:38); Jesus was sold for thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave (Mat 26:15).
20. Judah suggested the idea of selling his brother (Gen. 37:26-28); the Greek name for Judah is Judas (Mat. 1:2-3).
21. Joseph’s blood sprinkled coat (goat blood) was presented to his father (Gen. 37:31); Jesus is our scapegoat and His blood was presented to the Father as a sin offering (Leviticus 16:8-10).
22. Joseph became a servant (Gen. 39:1); Jesus became a servant (Philippians 2:6, 7).
23. Joseph was a prosperous servant (Gen. 39:2, 3); Jesus was a prosperous Servant (Isaiah 52:13; 53:10).
24. Joseph’s master was well pleased with him (Gen. 39:4); the Father was always pleased with Jesus (Mat. 3:17, John 8:29).
25. Joseph, the servant, was made a blessing to others (Gen. 39:5); Jesus was a blessing to the world (John 1:9).
26. Joseph was a goodly person (Gen. 39:6); Jesus came as a servant into the world and yet lived a goodly (perfect, sinless) life (Heb 4:15).
27. Joseph was sorely tempted and did not sin (Gen. 39:7-12); Jesus was tempted and did not sin (Mat. 4:1-11; Heb. 2:18; 4:15).
28. Joseph was falsely accused (Gen. 39:16-18); Jesus was falsely accused (Mat. 16:59, 60).
29. Joseph attempted no defense (Gen. 39:19); Jesus gave no defense at His trials (Isaiah 53:7).
30. Joseph was cast into prison, though he was innocent (Gen. 39:20); Jesus was sentenced to death though Pilate found no fault in Him (John 19:4, 6).
31. Joseph thus suffered at the hands of the Gentiles (first by his brethren, then by the Gentiles); Jesus was sold by His brethren then suffered at the hands of the Gentiles (Romans).
32. Joseph, the innocent one, suffered severely (Psalm 105:17, 18); Jesus, the innocent one, suffered by crucifixion.
33. Joseph won the respect of his jailor (Gen. 39:21); Jesus won the respect of a Roman centurion standing at the cross (Luke 23:47).
34. Joseph was numbered with transgressors (Gen. 40:1-3); as it was prophesied about Jesus (Isaiah 53:12), and as it was (Mark 15:28).
35. Joseph was the means of blessing to one, but the pronouncer of judgment on the other (Gen. 40:16, 17, 19); Jesus was a blessing to one of the thieves crucified with Him and a judgment on the other (Luke 23:43).
36. Joseph evidenced his knowledge of the future and gave credit to God alone (Gen. 40:8); Jesus did the same on earth (John 12:49).
37. Joseph desired to be remembered by the butler (Gen. 40:14); Jesus said to His disciples, “This do in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22:19)
38. Joseph was put in prison but God did not allow him to remain there because God’s purpose for Joseph had not been fulfilled; Jesus was put in a tomb, but God did not allow Him to remain there (Acts 2:24). Joseph changed his prison clothes for clothes of glory as did Jesus Christ (John 20:6, 7).
39. Joseph was delivered from prison by the hand of God (God sent a dream to Pharaoh (Gen. 41:15, 41) and Joseph’s testimony (45:7-9); God raised Jesus from the tomb (Acts 2:32; 10:40).
40. Joseph was seen as the Revealer of secrets; compare Gen. 41:16 with the words of Jesus in John 17:8; 8:28; and 12:49. Compare Gen. 41:25 with God revealing what He would do through Jesus Christ in Revelation 1:1.
41. Joseph warned of a coming danger, and urged his hearers to make suitable provisions to meet it (Gen. 41:33-36); Christ warned His hearers that death did not end all but there was a life beyond the grave that one should prepare and be ready for now.
42. Joseph was portrayed as a wonderful counselor, giving wisdom to Pharaoh (Gen. 41:33-36); Christ is known as the One “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3).
43. Joseph’s counsel commended itself to Pharaoh and his officers (Gen. 41:37-39); as did Jesus’ teaching while He walked on earth (Mat. 7:28-29; 13:54; compare John 7:46 with Gen 41:38).
44. Joseph was exalted, and set over all Egypt (Gen. 41:39-40); God highly exalted Jesus (1 Peter 3:22; Phil. 2:5-11).
45. Joseph was seated on the throne of another; Jesus sits on the throne of the Father.
46. Joseph was exalted to the throne because of his personal worth; Jesus was highly exalted for His personal worth (Phil. 2:6-9).
47. Joseph was invested with such insignia as became his new position (Gen. 41:42); as was our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 5:31; Heb. 2:9; Rev. 1:13).
48. Joseph’s authority and glory were publicly owned (Gen. 41:43); Peter publicly declared the Lordship of Jesus Christ on Pentecost (Acts 2:36; Phil. 2:10).
49. Joseph received from Pharaoh a new name (Gen. 41:45); God gave Jesus Christ a new name (Phil 2:9, 10; Mat. 1:21; Acts 5:31). Jesus was the name given to Him at His birth. Jesus means Savior, but Jesus could not save His people from their sins until after His death, burial, and resurrection. Joseph did not become his people’s savior until after his “death,” “burial,” and “resurrection.”
50. Joseph was thirty years old when he began his ministry (Gen. 41:46); Jesus was thirty when He began His public ministry (Luke 3:23).
51. Joseph’s exaltation was followed by a season of plenty (Gen. 41:47-49); there is a season of harvest now after Jesus’ exaltation as LORD. This time period is known as “the time of the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:25; John 12:24).
52. Joseph’s exaltation was also followed by a period of famine (Gen. 41:53-54); “the time of Gentiles” will come to an end and “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7) will begin (Dan. 12:7; Mark 13:19-20; it will a very grievous time as in Genesis 41:31. It will be a time when the whole earth, a picture of all of Egypt, will be tried. Rev. 3:10). See Amos 8:11-12 for the kind of famine coming (or may already be here) – a famine of the Word of God.
53. Joseph, alone, was seen as dispersing bread to a perishing world (Gen. 41:55); Jesus is the One who alone disperses the Bread of Life (Acts 4:12; Mat. 17:5 “. . . hear Him”).
54. Joseph became a Saviour to all people (Gen. 41:57; 54); Jesus is the Saviour to all people (John 3:16; Revelation 5:9).
55. Joseph had unlimited resources to meet the needs of all the people (Gen. 41:49); we read about the riches of Christ’s grace in Eph. 1:7; 2:7; 2:4; 1 Pet. 1:3; Eph. 3:8; Col. 2:9; Romans 10:12.
56. Joseph’s family was driven out of their own land (Gen. 42:1-3, 5), in fulfillment of God’s prophecy in Genesis 15:13. A few years after Joseph’s brothers rejected him they are forced out of their country. The Jews, a few years after rejecting Christ, were scattered into the world by the Romans.
57. Joseph was unknown and unrecognized by his brethren (Gen. 42:6, 8); Jesus today is not recognized by the Jews.
58. Joseph saw and knew his brethren (Gen. 42:7); Jesus’ eye is on the Jews even today (Jeremiah 16:17; Hosea 5:3).
59. Joseph punished his brethren (Gen. 42:7, 17); God (Jesus) is dealing harshly with the Jews today (Hosea 9:17; Mat. 23:35-36, 38-39).
60. Joseph made provision for his brethren while they were in a strange land (Gen. 42:25); God (Jesus) promised to provide for the Jews while they were scattered (Jer. 30:11; Eze. 11:16).
From Gleanings in Genesis by A. W. Pink.
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