Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Philosophy in Theology and Apologetics (PhD)


Leo Percer


Rest, rhetoric, suffering, Hebrews


Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


The Epistle to the Hebrews invites the followers of Jesus to enter God’s promised rest. Unlike the Israelites of the wilderness generation who failed to enter God’s promised rest, the followers of Jesus can enter that rest now and more fully in the future by obedience to God. This is possible because of God’s most recent intervention. God has sent his own son to become a sacrifice for their sins and a high priest for their intercession. Because the way to God is now open, the followers of Jesus can boldly approach God in prayer, gather regularly in worship, and serve one another in love. The recipients of Hebrews have suffered persecution in the past and may be experiencing more trouble because of their identification with Jesus Christ. The author encourages them to stay the course and he warns them of dire consequences if they fall away. His rhetorical strategy is to explain to them God’s provision for their salvation and help in times of need and to exhort or warn them in view of what he has just explained. He moves constantly between exposition and exhortation. The goal of this dissertation is to explore how the author of Hebrews uses classical rhetoric to demonstrate that the promised rest of God and the suffering of God’s people are compatible, in view of God’s great salvation through Jesus Christ who is both the sacrifice and the high priest.