Bible, Gospel Spirituality, Jesus, Preaching

Greidanus’ Ways to Christ, part 1

Sidney Greidanus is a retired preaching professor from Calvin Seminary. Greidanus’ Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method is an argument for Christocentric preaching and a history of how Christ has been preached from the OT. It is also an explanation of a biblical method for preaching Christ from the OT. Greidanus describes Christocentric preaching as “preaching sermons which authentically integrate the message of the text with the climax of God’s revelation in the person, work, and/or teaching of Jesus Christ as revealed in the New Testament.”[1] This integration is done using his seven ways to Christ. Below is an explanation of his first three ways to interpret Christ from the Old Testament.


First, he explains the way of redemptive-historical progression: “Redemptive history, or kingdom history, is the bedrock which supports all the other ways that lead to Christ in the New Testament. Today redemptive history is called the ‘metanarrative,’ or ‘The Story.’”[2] As opposed to creation, fall, redemption, and consummation, he describes the metanarrative of scripture as creation, redemption in OT times, redemption though Jesus Christ, and new creation.[3] Like all biblical theology proponents, he emphasizes a “unified history.”[4] The first way is seeing “every Old Testament text and its addressees in the context of God’s dynamic history, which progresses steadily and reaches its climax in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and ultimately in the new creation.”[5] The story of David and Goliath is used to explain that every OT narrative can be understood as a personal story, a national history, but also as redemptive history.[6]He goes on to describe that the account of David and Goliath is “more than Israel’s king defeating the enemy; the essence is that the Lord himself defeats the enemy of his people.”[7] Utilizing this first way of redemptive-historical progression and applying it to David and Goliath, he writes, “Thus the battle between David and Goliath is more than a personal scrap; it is more than Israel’s king defeating a powerful enemy; it is a small chapter in the battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent—a battle which reaches its climax in Jesus’ victory over Satan, first with his death and resurrection, and finally at his Second Coming when Satan will be thrown ‘into the lake of fire and sulfur’” (Revelation 20:10).[8]


Second is the way of promise-fulfillment, which is when the OT is interpreted in light of Christ’s fulfillment. Greidanus gives two rules for this method: “First, take into account that God usually fills up his promises progressively—in installments, as it were … Second, in interpreting the text, move from the promise of the Old Testament to the fulfillment in Christ and back again to the Old Testament text.”[9] As an example, he cites the promise of Isaiah 61:1–4 and how it finds fulfillment in the return of the remnant in 583 BC, then its greater fulfillment in Jesus’ first coming as dawn of Jubilee, and finally its ultimate fulfillment in the Day of Judgment.[10] The way of promise-fulfillment is about how a text “was fulfilled, is being fulfilled and will be fulfilled.”[11]


Third is the way of typology. Types are most often people, but can also be institutions and events, which serve as prerepresentations or prefigures of Christ. Of course, the links show Christ to be the perfect escalation and extreme type. Greidanus admits that the original audience would not have recognized most OT types as predictive, but only later does the church recognize the typology.[12] He also warns against the error of typologizing, which is when every detail of the type is interpreted as a type. An example of typologizing is viewing blue, purple, and red in the tabernacle as types pointing to Christ’s heavenliness, kingship, and death.[13] Six rules are provided to protect against typologizing: proceed with using literary-historical interpretation, look for types in the central message not details, determine symbolic meaning, note points of contrast, carry forward the meaning of the symbol, and do more than just draw a typological line to Christ in order to preach Christ.[14] Moses, Joshua, the exodus event, and the institution of the tabernacle are all examples of typology.


Greidanus’ ways to Christ are useful tools to train church leaders to interpret Christ from the OT minor prophets. Greidanus’ concern is not to stick to “precise perimeters of a particular way”[15] but rather to be confident that any sermon from the OT has preached Christ. Every preacher of the prophets should share this same goal when using Greidanus’ ways.


*This material was originally published in chapter three of “The Gospel According to Micah: A Christocentric Commentary.”  HERE

[1]Greidanus, Preaching Christ, 10.

[2]Greidanus, Preaching Christ, 234.

[3]Greidanus, Preaching Christ, 235.

[4]Greidanus, Preaching Christ, 236.

[5]Greidanus, Preaching Christ, 237.

[6]Greidanus, Preaching Christ, 238.

[7]Greidanus, Preaching Christ, 239.

[8]Greidanus, Preaching Christ, 239.

[9]Greidanus, Preaching Christ, 242.

[10]Greidanus, Preaching Christ, 243.

[11]Greidanus, Preaching Christ, 242.

[12]Greidanus writes, “The answer, I think, is not an either-or but a both-and: some Old Testament types are predictive and others are not. I suspect that most types are not predictive, but specific persons or events are later seen to have typological significance.” Greidanus, Preaching Christ, 251.

[13]Greidanus, Preaching Christ, 252.

[14]Greidanus, Preaching Christ, 257–60.

[15]Greidanus, Preaching Christ, 276.


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