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, some place, 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 the 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 of truth. (John 7:7; 3:32)
6. Joseph was promised a remarkable future (Gen 37:7-12); Jesus looked passed 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. (Mat. 27:17-18)
9. Joseph was sent by his father to his brothers (Gen 37:13); Jesus was sent to the ‘lost sheep of Israel,’ by His father (John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38-40; 12:48-50; 17:21)
10. Joseph seeks out his brothers (Gen 37:14-17); Jesus sought out His (Luke 19:10)
11. Joseph seeks 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 seeks his brothers until he finds them; Jesus seeks us until He finds us. And this at the initiative of the f(F)ather. (Gen 37:14, John 3:17)
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 thrown into a grave.
17. Joseph was taken out of the pit, alive in his body (Gen 37:28); Jesus was bodily-resurrected from the tomb (pit).
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 is sold for the price of a slave(Gen 37:38); Jesus was sold for thirty pieces of silver (the price of a slave).
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) is 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 becomes 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 also 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 what Jesus did (John 8:29).
25. Joseph, the servant, was made a blessing to others (Gen 39:5); Jesus was a blessing to the world.
26. Joseph was a goodly person (Gen 39:6); Jesus came as a servant into the world and yet lived a goodly (perfect) life.
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 (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 is 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 Romans (Gentiles).
32. Joseph, the innocent one, suffered severely (Psalm 105:17, 18); Jesus suffered by crucifixion (Mark 15:25).
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); as Jesus was a blessing to one of the thieves He was crucified between (Luke 23:43).
36. Joseph evidenced his knowledge of the future and gave credit to God alone (Gen 40:8); as Jesus did the same on earth (John 12:49).
37. Joseph desired to be remembered by the butler (Gen 40:14); as Jesus said, “This do in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22:19)
38. Joseph was put in prison (the tomb) but God would not allow him to remain there because God’s purpose for Joseph was not yet fulfilled. So it was with Jesus Christ, God would not allow Him to remain in the tomb (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 sending a dream to Pharaoh and Joseph’s testimony in Gen 45:7-9); as God raised Jesus from the tomb (Acts 2:32; 10:40).
40. Joseph is seen now as the Revealer of secrets; compare Gen 41:16 with the words of Jesus in John 17:8; 8:28; and 12:49.
Compare 41:25 with God revealing what He would shortly do through Jesus Christ in Revelation 1:1.
41. Joseph warned of a coming danger, and urged his hearers to make suitable provision to meet it (Gen 41:33-36); as did Jesus 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 is portrayed as a Wonderful Counselor in giving wisdom to Pharaoh (Gen 41:33-36); as 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 (Matt. 7:28-29; 13:54; and compare John 7:46 with Genesis 41:38).
44. Joseph is exalted, and set over all Egypt (Gen 41:39-40); as God highly exalted Jesus (1 Peter 3:22; Philippians 2:5-11).
45. Joseph was seated on the throne of another; as Jesus shares the Throne with the Father. “Today our Lord Jesus Christ shares the throne with the Father as Joseph shared the throne of Pharaoh. As Joseph ruled over Pharaoh’s house with his word, so today our Lord Jesus Christ rules over Father as Joseph shared the throne of Pharaoh. As Joseph ruled over Pharaoh’s house with his word, so today our Lord Jesus Christ rules over the Father’s household, the household of faith, the Church, by and through His Word.
46. Joseph was exalted to the throne because of his personal worth; as Jesus was highly exalted for His personal worth (Philippians 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; Hebrews 2:9; Revelation 1:13).
48. Joseph’s authority and glory were publicly owned (Gen 41:43); as Peter publicly declared the Lordship of Jesus Christ on Pentecost (Acts 2:36; Philippians 2:10)
49. Joseph received from Pharaoh a new name (Gen 41:45); as God gave Jesus Christ a new name (Philippians 2:9, 10; Matthew 1:21; Acts 5:31). True is was the name “Jesus” 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. As 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); as 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); as their (is) a season of harvest now after Jesus’ exaltation as LORD. This time period is known as “the time of the Gentiles.” (Romans 11:25; John 12:24).
52. Joseph’s exaltation was also followed by a period of famine (Gen 41:53-54); as ‘the time of Gentiles’ will come to an end and ‘the time of Jacob’s trouble’ (Jeremiah 30:7) will begin. (See Daniel 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. (Revelation 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, is now seen as dispersing bread to a perishing world (Gen 41:55); as Jesus is the One who alone disperses the Bread of Life (Acts 4:12; Matthew 17:5 ‘. . . hear Him.’
54. Joseph became a Saviour to all peoples (Gen 41:57; 54); as Jesus is the Savior to all peoples (John 3:16; Revelation 5:9). 55. Joseph has unlimited resources to meet the need of all the people (Gen 41:49); as we read of the riches of Christ’s grace in passages such as Eph. 1:7; 2:7; 2:4; 1 Peter 1:3; Eph. 3:8; Col. 2:9; Romans 10:12.
56. Joseph’s family is driven out of their own land (Gen 42:1-3, 5); this is in fulfillment of God’s prophecy in Genesis 15:13. And so, a few years after Joseph’s brothers rejected him they are forced out of their country as were the Jews after 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); as Jesus today is not recognized by the Jews. Joseph was exalted over all the house of Pharaoh, but Jacob knew it not. All these years he thought (assumed) that Joseph was dead! Today, Jews ‘believe’ Jesus to be dead and do not know that He has been exalted as LORD over all the world.
58. Joseph, however, saw and knew his brethren (Gen 42:7); so too, Jesus’ eye is on the Jews even today (Jeremiah 16:17; Hosea 5:3).
59. Joseph punished his brethren (Gen 42:7, 17); as God (Jesus) is dealing harshly with the Jews today (Hosea 9:17; Matthew 23:35-36, 38-39. “Joseph was the cause of their troubles now. Joseph was punishing them for their past dealing with himself. The secret of all Judah’s suffering during the past centuries is to be found in the fact that the rejected Messiah has been dealing ‘roughly’ with them.”
60. Joseph made provision for his brethren while they were in a strange land (Gen 42:25); as God (Jesus) promised to provide for the Jews while they are scattered (Jeremiah 30:11; Ezekiel 11:16)
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