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1. Figures of speech are universal to language. Figures of Speech. 2. If we miss a figure of speech we will likely misunderstand the AIM (Jn 2:19-20; 6:51-52; 7:34-35; 8:51-52; 11:11-12; 14:4-5). 3. Figurative does NOT mean untrue or less important. (E.g. transubstantiation, millennialism.).

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figures of speech

1. Figures of speech are universal to language.

Figures of Speech

2. If we miss a figure of speech we will likely misunderstand the AIM (Jn 2:19-20; 6:51-52; 7:34-35; 8:51-52; 11:11-12; 14:4-5).

3. Figurative does NOT mean untrue or less important. (E.g. transubstantiation, millennialism.)

4. Definition: Language used in non-literal ways.

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Why use it?

Figures of Speech

1. It attracts attention and is more forceful.

2. It is more memorable and encourages reflection.

3. Because it is more picturesque, it is better for illustrations.

4. It can make the complex simpler (and visa-versa) through abbreviation.

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Imagery in Context

Book, Letter

Figures of Speech


Sentences or Verses

Words or Verses:

Type; Symbol; Emblem

Analogy; figures of thought

Simile, metaphor, metonymy, hyperbole, paronomasia

Parable, allegory, fable

Literary Patterns

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Figures of Speech

1. It should be considered literal unless there is a valid reason to take it figuratively.

2. Would the literal meaning cause an absurdity or an inconsistency?

3. Would the literal meaning contradict other Scripture?

4. Would it cause an immorality (cf. Mt 18:8-9; Jn 6:53-58). Caution: Gen 22!

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Figures of Speech

5. The author may clearly identify it as a figure (Jn 7:37-38)

6. Sometimes there is a qualifying adjective (cf. Mt 6:14; Jn 6:32; 1 Pt 2:4; Eph 6:17).

7. Poetic or prophetic genre or symbolic terminology (colors, numbers, images).

8. Use common sense – what is the “feel” of the passage?

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Contextual Clues

Figures of Speech

1. The Author’s explanation is best and final.

2. Consider the author’s intention and the nature of the subject beyond just the figure itself.

3. Read the literal comments about the non-figure which is illustrated by the figure.

4. Notice whether the main point of comparison is identified (cf. 1 Kgs 12:4).

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Point of Comparison

Figures of Speech

1. Identify the point(s) of comparison between the non-figure and the figure.

2. Each point of comparison is used in only on way. Don’t go crazy here.

3. Work out the major points first, then go on to the minor ones.

4. Distinguish between essential and embellishing details of the analogy.

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Other Considerations

Figures of Speech

1. Historical and biographical research will help greatly since figures are based on the historical and cultural reality of the author.

2. Figures are often used to explain figures.

3. The natural meaning(s) are most likely.

4. Use parallel passages, but cautiously – figures do not always mean the same thing in different contexts.

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Types & Antitypes

Figures of Speech

Greek = Tupos (15x): Imprint (Jn 20:25), blueprint (Acts 7:44, Heb 8:5), example (1 Cor 10:6; Php 3:17; 1 Thess 1:7; 2 Thess 3:9; 1 Tim 4:12; Titus 2:7; 1 Pt 5:3).

Antitype (2x): Baptism, 1 Pt 3:21 and Tabernacle, Heb 9:24.

Most of them revolve around the Christ, the Cross, and the Christian (see chart).

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Types & AntitypesCharacteristics:

Figures of Speech

1. Resemblance – one thing to another.

2. Historic Reality – not just an analogy.

3. Prefiguring – predictive/foreshadowing.

4. Heightening – The N.T. thing is bigger.

5. Divine Design – not made up by me.

6. Apologetic value – because of #5

7. Not “interesting and profitable lessons.”

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Benefits of Typology:

Figures of Speech

1. Enables us to see God’s design in history.

2. Pulls together the O.T. and N.T. into one redemptive plan.

3. Apologetic, like prophecy.

4. Creates wonder at God.

5. Creates interest in Bible students.

6. Provides illustrations for sermons.

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Interpreting Types:

1. Determine the literal sense of the type.

Figures of Speech

2. Note the specific point(s) of comparison.

3. Note the specific area(s) of contrast.

4. Note the direct N.T. assertions that verify the typological correspondence.

5. Use as pictures in preaching.

6. Don’t base typology on colors, numbers, materials or shapes.

7. Avoid dogmatism when the N.T. is unclear.

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A sign which suggests meaning rather than stating it.

Figures of Speech

1. A type is a real historical entity, a symbol may not be.

2. Types/Antitypes span both testaments. Symbols can stand alone in either.

3. Types may have multiple points of connection. Symbols have but one.

4. Types may have multiple referents (e.g. Lion [1 Pt 5:8; Rev 5:5]).

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Categories of Symbols

1. Objects: blood (Heb 1:3), Rainbow (Gen 9).

Figures of Speech

2. Actions: Laying on hands, tearing clothes.

3. Ordinances: Baptism, Eucharist.

4. Materials: Bronze (Rev 1:5), linens (Rev 19:8).

5. Numbers: 1, 2-3, 3 ½, 7, 10, 12, 144.

6. Colors: Purple, white, red.

7. Names, especially when they are changed: Eve (Gen 3:20), Abram (Gen 17:5), Peter.