New Testament Types in Acts: Part 12
Dec 08, 2006
The Saul of the New Testament is the antitype of King Saul of the Old Testament, for both of them persecuted the overcomers. The New Testament Church, the Body of Christ, was the antitype of David.
But because King Saul was a Pentecostal type, the NT Saul was also an extension of the OT Saul. Therefore, both were types of the Church under Pentecost, which in later centuries persecuted the overcomers. Here we see leaven in Pentecost as it spread throughout the two loaves of the Pentecostal offering (Lev. 23:17). That leaven created the need for Tabernacles, the feast that could bring the Body of Christ into perfection.
When the NT Saul was converted on the road to Damascus, he was brought as a blind man to the house of Judas who lived on Straight Street in Damascus (9:11). God then sent Ananias to heal him and to baptize him.
This prophesies of the manner in which a person might move from Saul to David, or from Saul to Paul, or from Pentecost to Tabernacles, in one's relationship with God. Hopefully, our conversion from Saul to Paul comes before the leaven of Pentecost has had too much time to develop within us, so that we do not find ourselves persecuting the overcomers.
Paul's dramatic experience on the Damascus road can be seen as a long-term type of the earth-shaking shift from Old to New Covenant on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. On that day Yahweh-Yeshua spoke, and all the people heard His voice in their own language. So also, Saul heard Jesus speaking. Thus, from the standpoint of prophetic types, the Damascus road experience was his Pentecost and pictured the day of Pentecost both in Exodus 20 and in Acts 2.
Likewise, Saul's blindness for three days also became part of that picture, for it is on the third day that the Church will have its own dramatic healing from blindness while in the house of Judas. In the Church's reversion from New Covenant to Old Covenant thinking, and with its eschatological "mother" now being Hagar, rather than Sarah, it has been bought back into the theology of (messianic) Judaism once again and thus has become a type of Judas. Judas was the disciple (Jesus' FRIEND) who betrayed Him by helping the Jewish leaders usurp the throne. So also today has the Church largely reverted to "Christian Zionism," betraying Christ in helping them to usurp the birthright of Joseph as well.
And so Saul in his blindness is brought to the house of Judas to show us this prophetic type.
Another name worth studying is Ananias. There are two men named Ananias in Acts. The first was in Acts 5, who was a type of those who refuse to put all things under the feet of Christ. We saw earlier that he was the antitype of Achan. But in Acts 9 we have a positive type in a new Ananias, who is God's instrument of healing and grace.
These two men have their Old Testament counterparts, for in the days of Jeremiah and Daniel there were two men named Hananiah--the Hebrew form of Ananias (which is Greek).
In Jer. 28:10, the prophet Hananiah broke the wooden yoke from Jeremiah's neck and prophesied that within two years the yoke of Babylon would be broken. He was the spokesman for all of the evil figs who refused to submit to the wooden yoke that God had imposed upon Jerusalem (Jer. 24). This is what brought the iron yoke upon Jerusalem (Jer. 28:13), as well as the death of Hananiah within the same year (Jer. 28:17).
But the second Hananiah (Dan. 1:6), the friend of Daniel, was one of the three who were cast into the Babylonian furnace and miraculously delivered from death (Dan. 3). This Hananiah submitted to the yoke according to the word of Jeremiah, and God blessed him as a good fig.
These two men named Hananiah find their prophetic counterparts in the New Testament under the Greek name of Ananias. The Ananias in Acts 5 answers to the evil fig company, while the Ananias in Acts 9 represents the good fig company. Thus also, the evil-fig Ananias is in Jerusalem, while the good-fig Ananias is part of the dispersion in Damascus, a type of Babylon.
Hananiah means God's grace, favor, or mercy. His name carries a numeric value of 120, which is the number always associated with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. So it is not surprising to find him bringing mercy and grace to Saul. He prayed for Saul "so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 9:17).
Saul soon escaped from Damascus and went to Arabia for three years, no doubt to receive his new revelation of the relationship between law and grace. When he returned to Jerusalem, it was Barnabas who led him to the disciples. Barnabas is the "Son of Consolation," which makes him a type of the Holy Spirit in that he is led by the Spirit. Even as the Holy Spirit knows the hearts of men, so also does Barnabas know that Saul's heart has been changed.
Saul is soon sent to Tarsus to escape the persecution of the Hellenistic Jews (Acts 9:29). The Hellenists were associated with the Sadducees, who were in control of the temple in those days. They were the "liberals" of the day, greatly influenced by Greek philosophy and culture, which they had attempted to incorporate into Hebrew culture. It is likely that the Hellenists were most offended by Saul's assertion that Jesus had been raised from the dead, for as we have seen, this was what offended the temple priests in Acts 4:2.
Saul's escape to Tarsus suggests another type as well. Recall the story of Jonah, who fled to Tarshish (Jonah 1:3) to escape his calling to preach to Nineveh. There is disagreement among Bible scholars as to this place called Tarshish. Some say it is Spain; others say it is Tarsus. It may be that the Spanish Tarshish received its name from colonizers coming from Tarsus. Whatever the historical truth may be, there is a prophetic connection here. It is as if Saul is following the prophetic type of Jonah in his first call, in order to set the stage for the fulfillment of his calling ten years later when Barnabas brings him to Antioch. Keep in mind that he went to Tarsus as Saul, but he came forth from Antioch as Paul.
Perhaps a little speculation might help explain this further. Remember that Jonah's initial problem was that he did not want Nineveh to repent and be spared, because Nineveh was Israel's enemy. It is likely that the prophet knew that Nineveh would later be God's agent of judgment upon Israel and would deport the ten tribes into the dispersion of Israel. But since the story of Jonah was ultimately a type of the Restoration of all things and bringing all nations under the feet of Christ, we see that the prophet disagreed with this divine plan. He was therefore angry when Nineveh repented and the city was not destroyed in 40 days.
It is possible, then, that when Saul went to Tarsus, he still did not understand the divine plan of bringing all things under the feet of Christ. And so, God led him to Tarsus under the name of Saul in order to manifest even a small portion of the type of Jonah. Perhaps it was in Tarsus that he learned the bigger picture that prepared his heart for his international ministry. As a tentmaker, perhaps God revealed to him the overall purpose of the feast of Tabernacles (tents).
Whatever the case may be, it is clear that it takes time to prepare the hearts of those that God has called. God trained Moses for 40 years in the wilderness. He trained Joseph and David for 12 years. He trained Saul/Paul for 14 years (Gal. 2:1), the first three years in Arabia, then ten years in Tarsus, and the final year in Antioch (Acts 11:26), where he no doubt taught the word at the revival in those days. But his name was not changed to Paul until he was actually sent on his first missionary journey, accompanied by Barnabas, the Son of Consolation.
This is the twelfth part of a series titled "New Testament Types in Acts." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones