The physical and literal things of the Bible have spiritual meanings. They represent other things than what we see literally. The Bible tells us to look for the spiritual meaning of a verse and to compare them with other verses that have the same spiritual meaning.
(12) Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (13) Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (14) But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
(18) While we look not at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
To understand the meaning of the word, or verse, you must read it in the context of the other surrounding verses to see what is the spiritual meaning of that verse.
Before looking at spiritual meanings, it is important to have an understanding of the following:
(1) Know the theme of each book
(2) Know the basic theme of each writer
(3) Know that the whole Bible was not written to you
(1) Know the basic themes of each book
Reading a novel without knowing the theme or subject of the novel will make it difficult to understand. Knowing if a novel is a mystery or comedy will help you to understand as you read. The same is true of each book in the Bible.
The Old Testament
Historical Books (Genesis – Esther)
Poetic Books (Job – Song of Solomon)
Prophetical Books (Isaiah – Malachi)
The New Testament
Historical Books (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts)
Letters to Christian individuals and the Church (Romans – Revelations)
We can further examine each book to understand the theme. For example, the book of Romans is often called the Constitution of the Christian Faith. This book has more Old Testament quotations than any other Epistle. It is essential that one understands Romans before firmly grasping the truth of the other New Testament Epistles. This book provides a foundation for understanding the gospel and the New Testament.
Galatians is called the Magna Carta of the Christian faith. Along with Romans, an understanding of Galatians will set the Christian free from the principle of law and sin.
(2) Know the basic theme of each writer
In the New Testament, it is helpful to understand that the themes of the apostles in the Epistles.
Paul is the author of grace and works.
James is the author of works and evidence.
Peter is the author of suffering and hope.
John is the author of love and fellowship.
This does not mean that Peter did not write about grace or Paul did not write about love. This is a basic guideline for understanding the themes. To understand the importance of knowing the theme, see Understanding the Book of James.
The gospels also contain separate themes for each book. Keep in mind that the gospels contain different style of writing and were primarily written for different audiences.
Theme: Jesus is King
Written to the Jews.
Theme: Jesus is Servant.
Written to the Romans.
Theme: Jesus is Man.
Written to the Greeks.
Theme: Jesus is God.
Written to the world.
(3) Many of the books were not written to you.
(4) For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
The Old Testament was written for our learning. It was not written to you to do them, but for you to learn from the experiences of those to whom it was written. This is especially true of the historical accounts in the Old Testament and the New Testament. You may apply them to you spiritually, but be sure that there are no contradictions from other parts of the Bible, especially from the letters addressed to the churches of God and to the Christian. These are the letters from Romans through Revelation.
With these basic principle in mind, it becomes easier to understand the spiritual meaning of the Bible including types and anti-types.