A recognition that in the Bible there is discernible a pattern of salvation events. Some of what happened in the OT is seen to be anticipations of events recorded in the NT, and some of the narratives in the gospels seem to be reflected in the Acts. The anticipations are called ‘types’ and the fulfilments are the ‘antitypes’. Thus the story of the Exodus is repeated in the synoptic gospels; the Israelites cross the Red Sea, yield to temptations of doubt and disillusionment for forty years in the wilderness, and then Moses on Mount Sinai presents the people with the Law. In the gospels Jesus is baptized in the water by John, is tempted for forty days in the wilderness, and then gives the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5–7). The difference is that where Israel failed, by repeatedly grumbling and doubting God's determination, Jesus succeeded. The gospels are, as it were, retelling the story of Israel, but giving the events of Jesus as its climax and rationale. It could be shown that Matthew's account of Jesus recapitulates that of Israel with Genesis (Matt. 1: 1), Exod. (2: 15), Deut. (5–7); a ministry about kingship and prophecy; an exile (Calvary) and restoration (the Resurrection). The principle behind such exegesis is that God had the same purpose in the NT as he always had (cf. Heb. 13: 8). He is consistent. Though his plan failed because of Israel's weakness, he did not change his plan but brought it to completion through Jesus.

It is possible that there is a typological parallelism between the Passion narrative in Luke and the later chapters of Acts. In the gospel, the Lord's Supper and teaching about ministry is followed by four trials (before the high priest, the Sanhedrin, Pilate, and Herod); the crucifixion; three days in the grave; the resurrection. In the Acts, there is a meal at Troas (Acts 20: 7), a discourse about ministry (20: 28 ff.); four trials, before the Sanhedrin, Felix, Festus, and Herod Agrippa II; the shipwreck, followed by three months with Publius. And the climax of the book is Paul's arrival in Rome.

If such a theory is plausible, the purpose of the literary device is to show how the disciple must be as his master; that if the way of Jesus was in humiliation, there can be no other way for the Church (Luke 9: 23).

The story of the Flood and Noah's ark is treated typologically by 1 Pet. 19–21.