The letter, or possibly a sermon, to the Hebrews seems like one of the longer ones in the Bible. It certainly is one of the most difficult. But when it’s seen as the dissertation about the superiority of Jesus over the religious rituals and rules of the world, it comes together in one solid message. Jesus saves! Religion enslaves. Jesus sets free! Religious people lay burdens that become too heavy for anyone to carry. Jesus gives us rest for our souls for he lifts those burdens from our backs and hearts! He gives us rest for our souls. Nothing else can do that. Before the author of Hebrews wraps up his writing with greetings and a closing blessing he gives one final appeal. Hebrews 13:22 says, “I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.”

Many commentators make remarks about how “briefly” in this verse literally means “with few words.” Brooks asks an interesting question. He writes, “The word ‘briefly’ (literally, ‘through few words’) has come in for some comment down the days, not least along the lines of if Hebrews is to be considered brief, what might an extended version have been like?”[1] I think I can answer that. I’ve said earlier that the writer of Hebrews does for us what Jesus himself did for the two disciples that he walked with on the road to Emmaus. He explained to them how the Old Testament, the Law, the Prophets and the writings were all about himself. Hebrews expands on that for us but leaves the majority of the Old Testament up to us to study and relate to the person and work of the promised deliverer, first promised in Genesis 3:15. It’s all looking forward to Jesus and it all finds its fulfillment in Him. There’s a lifetime of research left open for us to dive into but even then we’ll not be able to write enough books to contain everything thing there is to say about the wonders and glory of Jesus. In John’s Gospel, 21:25, he says, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”

The writer considers his letter a word of “exhortation.” He is exhorting them throughout the 13 chapters of Hebrews to hold on to the precious good news of Jesus. Let go of the religion that so enslaves us and grab on to the salvation offered by God’s grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Brooks is clear concerning the “exhortation” our author is delivering. He writes about the author, “He desires to exhort the recipients—to exhort them to hold fast to Jesus, to cleave to the gospel, to endure to the end, and not to step back in time into the old regulations, sacrifices and ways, not to commit apostasy.”[2]

[1] Richard Brooks, The Name High over All: A Commentary on Hebrews, Welwyn Commentary Series (Welwyn Garden City, UK: EP, 2016), 454.

[2] Richard Brooks, The Name High over All: A Commentary on Hebrews, Welwyn Commentary Series (Welwyn Garden City, UK: EP, 2016), 455.