Jesus as Faithful in Testing: A Key to the Rhetorical Connection Between Hebrews 3:1-6 and 3:7-4:13

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Institution Granting Degree

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Cedarville University School or Department

Biblical and Theological Studies

First Advisor

Terry Wilder


Philosophy, religion and theology; Hebraism; Hebrews 3; Hebrews 4; Psalms 95; Septuagint


This dissertation argues that, in Hebrews 3:1-4:16, Jesus' entrance into rest, as a result of his successful testing, demonstrates why Auctor (i.e., the author) views him as a faithful High Priest. A corollary to this thesis is that as a result of Jesus' faithfulness, believers are exhorted to enter into "that" (Heb 4:11) rest (i.e., Jesus' rest) via faithful obedience. This does not deny the evident exhortation in Auctor's argument; however, the exhortation is subsumed under, and only made possible by the theological point of Jesus as faithful High Priest.

Chapter 1 introduces five areas of tension in current exegetical explanations of Hebrews 3 and 4. Significant authors are discussed who have written on Hebrew 3 and 4. Chapter 2 argues that "testing" is a significant connecting theme between Hebrews 3:1-6 and 3:7-4:13. This is demonstrated by lexical and thematic connections, an inclusio in 2:17-3:1 and 4:14-16, and a narrative substructure based on Numbers 12 and 14.

Chapter 3 examines Psalm 94:11 b LXX/OG as it is used by the author in Hebrews 3:11, 4:3, and 4:5 in order to determine whether it should be translated into English as an emphatic negative statement (which is the current scholarly consensus), or as an open-ended conditional statement. The conclusion is that reading the verse as an emphatic negative is problematic, and, therefore, an open-ended conditional better fits the evidence. Chapter 4 examines Hebrews 4:8 and 4:10 in order to determine whether they should be read christologically, or whether they refer to Joshua (Heb 4:8) and believers (Heb 4:10) respectively. The conclusion is that both verses should be read as referring to Jesus. Based on the conclusions of chapters 2-4, chapter 5 provides an abridged commentary on Hebrews 2:17-4:16 which focuses on how the author emphasizes Jesus' faithful completion of testing and what that means for believers.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.