The symbols of salvation in the Holy Pascha from the Old Testament according to the holy church fathers

Types of salvation through the events and characters of the Old Testaments in the readings of the Holy Pascha, in the eyes of the Church Fathers.

 Through the Old Testament we see that the mystery of Christ is not a newly existing phenomena but is present since the beginning of time. He was described through the types, events and rituals of worship as well as the feasts recorded in the Old Testament” – St. Cyril of Alexandria.

“Christ was present in the events and characters of the Old Testaments in the form types and symbols, and this was due to the shortcomings of the listeners” St. Cyril of Alexandria

“The New Testament is hidden within the Old and the Old Testament is proclaimed in the New” – St. Augustine


Biblical verses of the characters and events:


Genesis 1- Adam Matins (Creation), 9th hour (the fall and promise of Salvation)- Monday
Genesis 6-9:1-6 – Noah 9th hour of Tuesday
Genesis 22 – Abraham and Isaac 9th hour of Thursday (Sacrifice of Isaac)
Genesis 14 – Melchizedek 9th hour of Thursday
Genesis 48 – Jacob 3rd hour of Great Friday (Blessing of Jacob for the 2 sons of Joseph)
Genesis 49 – Judah and Joseph Lazarus Saturday and the 3rd hour of Great Friday
Exodus 14-15:1 6th hour of Wednesday (Crossing of the Red Sea)
Exodus 17 Matins of Wednesday
Exodus 17,15 – Moses and Joshua Matins of Covenant Thursday (war against the giants)
Deuteronomy 8, Numbers 21, Exodus 12 – Moses 11th hour of Good Friday (Passover lamb)
Numbers 21:1-9 Moses 6th hour of Good Friday (Bronze Serpent)
Joshua 1 – Joshua Covenant Thursday – Liturgy of the Waters
Jonah 1,2 -Jonah 12th hour of Good Saturday and Matins of Joyous Saturday


Adam as a type of Christ to whom is all Glory: (Prophecy of Matins and 9th hour of Monday)

  • Cyril of Alexandria says:

“Man was made in the image of The Word since the beginning, and his nature was suitable for doing all good works and practicing virtues, because He “Created us for good works”.. as within man that was created or not, there was the yearning to attachment to virtue, but not the strong will power to practice


  • Whereas St. Clement of Alexandria (15-215 A.D) sees that the purpose of the Incarnation of The Word is to truly make us in the image of God “ As far as I see, man was created from dust, and God recreated him through water, and made him grow in spirit and taught him through The Word, directing him to His sonship and salvation through His holy commandments, knowing that through His renewal of Man’s creation to become a hoky and heavenly creation through His coming, he has fulfilled the Word of God which said “ Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;” (Gen 1:26).

St. Clement also sees that the image in which man was created is like the body which the Word took, and according to the description of St. Clement, the image of God here is an image of the image.

  • This is also what St. Athanasius explained to confirm the distinction of the human race in Christ and the Incarnation of The Word “For God Maker of all and King of all, that has His Being beyond all substance and human discovery, inasmuch as He is good and exceeding noble, made, through His own Word our Savior Jesus Christ, the human race after His own image, and constituted man able to see and know realities by means of this assimilation to Himself, giving him also a conception and knowledge even of His own eternity, in order that, preserving his nature intact, he might not ever either depart from his idea of God, nor recoil from the communion of the holy ones; but having the grace of Him that gave it, having also God’s own power from the Word of the Father, he might rejoice and have fellowship with the Deity, living the life of immortality unharmed and truly blessed. For having nothing to hinder his knowledge of the Deity, he ever beholds, by his purity, the Image of the Father, God the Word, after Whose image he himself is made.” Source (St. Athanasius the Apostolic – Against the Heathen)
  • On the other hand, St. Joh Chrysostom offers a comparison between what happened to mankind due to Adam’s sin, and the exceeding grace that mankind received because of the righteousness of Christ and that is in his commentary on (Romans 5:14)


But death reigned from Adam to Moses and that was on those whom did not sin similar to Adams violation as follows:

“How did death reign? “After the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of Him that was to come.” Now this is why Adam is a type of Christ. How a type? it will be said. Why in that, as the former became to those who were sprung from him, although they had not eaten of the tree, the cause of that death which by his eating was introduced; thus, also did Christ become to those sprung from Him, even though they had not wrought righteousness, the Provider of that righteousness which through His Cross He graciously bestowed on us all.” St. John Chrysostom – Homilies on the epistle to the Romans

  • Augustine links the relationship and marriage of Adam and Eve in the beginning of creation to what happened in the fullness of time and the proclamation of salvation to the gentiles and the bride of the New testament to which Christ paired up with through his Cross, and that is in his explanation of the verse : “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be[a]joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24


(If Christ clings to His church for two to become one body, by which means does he leave his father and mother? He has left His Father in the meaning that “who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but [c]made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.”

(Philippians 2:6). It is by this meaning that He left his Father and not by forgetting him or separating from him but through his appearance in the form of man… but how did He leave his mother? That is by leaving the council of the Jews from which he was born according to the flesh, to cling to the church which he formed from all nations) – St Augustine- Commentary on Genesis 2



Noah as a type of Christ to whom is all Glory: (9th hour of Tuesday)

Origen the Scholar says that the naming of Noah and his message point towards Christ, His Cross and salvation:

“And thus, by ascending through the individual levels of the dwellings, one arrives at Noah himself, whose name means rest or righteous, who is Christ Jesus. For what Lamech his father says is not appropriate to the ancient Noah. For “this one,” he says, “shall give us rest from the labors and the sorrows of our hands and from the earth which the Lord God cursed.”(Gen 5:29) But if you look to our Lord Jesus Christ of whom it is said: “Behold the lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sin of the world,”26 and of whom it is said again: “Being made a curse for us that he might redeem us from the curse of the law,”27 and again when Scripture says, “Come to me you who labor and are burdened and I will refresh you and you shall find rest for your souls,”28 you will find him to be the one who truly has given rest to men and has freed the earth from the curse with which the Lord God cursed it. (Origen – Genesis Homily 11)

The true Noah: Jesus Christ

And thus, by ascending through the individual levels of the dwellings, one arrives at Noah himself, whose name means rest or righteous, who is ChristJesus.22 For what Lamech his father says is not appropriate to the ancient Noah. For “this one,” he says, “shall give us rest from the labors and the sorrows of our hands and from the earth which the Lord God cursed.”23 For how shall it be true that the ancient Noah gave rest to that Lamech or to that people who were then contained in the lands? How is there a cessation from sorrows and labor in the times of Noah? How is the curse which the Lord had placed on the earth removed when rather both the divine wrath is shown to be greater and God is reported to say, “I am sorry that I made man on the earth,”24 and again he says, “I will destroy all flesh which is upon the earth,”25 and the destruction of the living is given, above all, as an indication of the greatest displeasure?


Abraham and Isaac

Slaughter of Isaac 9th hour of Covenant Thursday

Caesarius of Arles

The two servants whom he ordered to stay with the ass typified the Jewish people, who could not ascend or reach the place of sacrifice because they would not believe in Christ. That ass signified the synagogue. The ram that was stuck among the briars with its horns also seems to represent the Lord, for Christ as it were stuck among thorns with horns when he hung on the beam of the cross, fastened with nails. When Isaac carried the wood for the sacrifice of himself, in this too he prefigured Christ our Lord, who carried his own cross to the place of his passion. Of this mystery much had already been foretold by the prophets: “And his government shall be upon his shoulders.” Christ then had the government upon his shoulders when he carried his cross with wonderful humility. Not unfittingly does Christ’s cross signify government: by it the devil is conquered and the whole world recalled to the knowledge and grace of Christ.



After this the text says, “Abraham took the wood for the holocaust and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took the fire in his own hands and a sword, and they went off together.”20 That Isaac himself carries on himself “the wood for the holocaust” is a figure, because Christ also “himself carried his own cross,”2! and yet to carry “the wood for the holocaust” is the duty of a priest. He himself, therefore, becomes both victim and priest. But what is added also is related to this: “And they both went off together.” For when Abraham carries the fire and knife as if to sacrifice, Isaac does not go behind him, but with him, that he might be shown to contribute equally with the priesthood itself. What happens after this? “Isaac,” the text says, “said to Abraham, his father: ‘Father.”’22 And in this moment the word of testing is uttered by the son. For how do you suppose the son to be killed struck the father’s heart with this word? And although Abraham was very rigid by virtue of his faith, nevertheless he also returned an expression of affection and responded: “What is it, son?” And Isaac says, “Behold the fire and the wood. Where is the sheep for the holocaust?” Abraham responded to these words: “God himself will provide himself a sheep for the holocaust, son.”23 Abraham’s response, sufficiently accurate and cautious, moves me. I know not what he saw in his spirit,24 for he speaks not about the present, but about the future: “God himself will provide himself a sheep.”25 He responded to his son’s inquiry about present things with future things. For “the Lord himself will provide himself a sheep” in Christ, because also, “Wisdom herself has built herself a house”26 and, “He himself humbled himself unto death.”27 And you will discover that everything you happen to read about Christ is done not by necessity, but freely.


The ram: Type of Christ the priest and the sacrifice.

“And looking back with his eyes,” the text says, “Abraham saw, and behold a ram was held by its horns in a bush Sabec.”54 We said above, I think, that Isaac represented Christ. But this ram no less also seems to represent Christ. Now it is worthwhile to know how both are appropriate to Christ, both Isaac who is not slain and the ram which is slain. Christ is “the Word of God,” but “the Word was made flesh.”55 One aspect of Christ, therefore, is from above; the other is received from human nature and the womb of the virgin. Christ suffered, therefore, but in the flesh; and he endured death, but it was the flesh, of which this ram is a type, as also John said: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sin of the world.”56 But the Word continued “in incorruption,”57 which is Christ according to the spirit, of which Isaac is the image. For this reason he himself is both victim and priest. For truly according to the spirit he offers the victim to the Father, but according to the flesh he himself is offered on the altar of the cross, because, as it is said of him “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sin of the world,”58 so it is said of him: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech.”59 “A ram,” therefore, “was held by its horns in a bush Sabec.”



9th hour of Covenant Thursday

“For who is more a priest of the most high God than our Lord Jesus Christ, who offered a sacrifice to God the Father, and offered that very same thing which Melchizedek had offered, that is, bread and wine, to wit, His body and blood? And with respect to Abraham, that blessing going before belonged to our people.” – St Cyprian of Carthage

St. John Chrysostom

Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, abides a Priest continually. Since then, there lay in his way [as an objection] the [words] You are a Priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek, whereas he [Melchizedek] was dead, and was not Priest forever, see how he explained it mystically. ‘And who can say this concerning a man?’ I do not assert this in fact (he says); the meaning is, we do not know when [or] what father he had, nor what mother, nor when he received his beginning, nor when he died. And what of this (one says)? For does it follow, because we do not know it, that he did not die, [or] had no parents? You say well: he both died and had parents. How then [was he] without father, without mother? How having neither beginning of days nor end of life? How? [Why] from its not being expressed. And what of this? That as this man is so, from his genealogy not being given, so is Christ from the very nature of the reality.

See the without beginning; see the without end. As in case of this man, we know not either beginning of days, or end of life, because they have not been written; so we know [them] not in the case of Jesus, not because they have not been written, but because they do not exist. For that indeed is a type, and therefore [we say] ‘because it is not written,’ but this is the reality, and therefore [we say] ‘because it does not exist.’ For as in regard to the names also (for there King of Righteousness and of Peace are appellations, but here the reality) so these too are appellations in that case, in this the reality. How then has He a beginning? You see that the Son is without beginning, not in respect of His not having a cause; (for this is impossible: for He has a Father, otherwise how is He Son?) but in respect of His not having beginning or end of life.But made like the Son of God. Where is the likeness? That we know not of the one or of the other either the end or the beginning. Of the one because they are not written; of the other, because they do not exist. Here is the likeness. But if the likeness were to exist in all respects, there would no longer be type and reality; but both would be type. [Here] then just as in representations [by painting or drawing], there is somewhat that is like and somewhat that is unlike. By means of the lines indeed there is a likeness of features, but when the colors are put on, then the difference is plainly shown, both the likeness and the unlikeness.

Homily 12 on Hebrews – St John Chrysostom.