I have become fascinated with the shadow and reality relationship between the OT and NT.  I just bought your book, “From Shadow to Reality” and look forward to reading it.  It had a link to this website, so here I am.  I have a question/thought that I would appreciate your thoughts on if you have the time. In I PET 3:21 Peter speaks of baptism as an antitype.  I raised the point in a lesson I taught (baptism saves, from the beginning it was so) that if baptism is the antitype, then what is the type? If baptism is the real thing, what is the shadow?  If I understand Peter correctly, he said it was salvation by water… 8 souls were saved by water.  Of course we know he is talking about the flood, ark, etc.  I made the comment in my lesson it seems to me that if baptism does not save us today, (which so many claim to be so) then Noah and his family were not saved in the flood.  It seems that something cast that shadow, (salvation by water), and Peter said it was salvation in water during baptism.  You can’t have a shadow without the reality which casts it.  Unfortunately, not too many seemed to understand what I was saying.  Maybe I didn’t explain it very well, or maybe I just don’t understand. I would appreciate your thoughts if you have the time to respond.  Am I missing something here?


I think you are right on with this one.  I actually make this same point in the book From Shadow to Reality (, as you will see as your read it.  There are multiple type/antitype examples in the Old Testament which imply that salvation occurs at baptism.  The reason some people do not see this is not because it is hard to understand but because they are familiar with the false teaching that we are saved when we “pray Jesus into [our] heart.”  I do not think the problem is lack of clarity on your part!  When we look at the scripture through the lens of false doctrine, we can miss some pretty obvious points in the Bible.  One of the most common false teachings in Christianity today is that baptism is a mere symbol, and has no actual effect.  It is belief in this false doctrine which causes people to not understand the type/antitype teaching in 1 Peter 3:21f in some cases.

Your interpretation of 1 Peter 3:21f as a foreshadow is absolutely correct in my opinion.  People say that baptism is a symbol, but in this passage the flood is a symbol and baptism is the reality to which the symbol points.  Can the flood of Noah be a symbol of a symbol?  Obviously not.  The symbolic “shadow” is always found in the Old Testament  and the fulfilled “reality” is found in the New Testament.  Like Peter says, “baptism now saves you also.”  Of course, we all know that the blood of Jesus is the most basic requirement for salvation and faith on our part in that blood is another basic requirement for salvation.  Baptism is not the essential principle in salvation.  Faith on our part and grace on God’s part is the essential requirement.  Nevertheless baptism plays a role in salvation.  Salvation occurs when we are baptized, as proved by 1 Peter 3:21 and several other passages.

Another foreshadow of the saving effect of baptism is found in the crossing of the Red Sea by God’s people.  Israel had already escaped slavery in Egypt, or so they thought, but they discovered that they were not yet free when Pharaoh sent his troops after them.  Symbolically, we are not free of slavery until we leave Egypt and we are not out of Egypt until we go through the water.  In this case the water which “saved” them is the Red Sea.  Like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 the Jews were baptized into Moses in the Red Sea.  As Noah and his family were “saved” through water, so were the Israelites “saved” through water when they passed through the Red Sea.  

Another example is the crossing of the Jordan by the second generation under Joshua.  Those who were not adults when Israel passed through the Red Sea were symbolically baptized into Joshua when they passed through the Jordan River.  The males had not been circumcised for forty years in the desert.  God did this so as to emphasize the type/antitype relationship between Old Testament circumcision and New Testament baptism.  Immediately after being “baptized” into Joshua, all the males of Israel were circumcised, cementing the symbolic relationship between circumcision, by which males became part of God’s people and baptism, which saves us, as described in Coll 2:11-12.  Paul calls baptism “the circumcision done by Christ.”  He says that we are buried and raised with Christ in baptism.

I hope that you find more insights in the book and thanks for sharing your thinking with me.

John Oakes

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