This is one of the least acknowledged and least used doctrines in modern Christianity. Because of this they are missing out on the spiritual gifts that can come from it!
Hebrews 6:1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
Hebrews 6:2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
The “laying hands” on an individual is symbolic of asking God to act in a special way with the person in question.
God is Working Through Man
This is not about the man that does the laying on of hands! Though the man matters (as we will see later) it is not about him nor is it about the hands.
We are nothing without God. This doctrine is about the extension of His power and will
Acts 4:29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,
Acts 4:30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”
Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
By this symbolic act God conveys His power and will.
Old Testament Times
This is not a new concept.
Genesis 48:13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near him.
Genesis 48:14 Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn.
Genesis 48:15 And he blessed Joseph, and said: “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has fed me all my life long to this day,
Genesis 48:16 The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads; Let my name be named upon them, And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”
Genesis 48:17 Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head.
This that Jacob was doing, conferring a blessing by the laying on of hands, was not new to Joseph.
Genesis 48:18 And Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”
Genesis 48:19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”
This is nothing that Jacob/Israel could insure — it had to be of God.
Genesis 48:20 So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will bless, saying, ‘May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!’ ” And thus he set Ephraim before Manasseh.
We see that it would and had to be God that did this. [US and UK in Prophecy]
Another Old Testament Example
God sets leaders, but notice the instruction:
Numbers 27:15 Then Moses spoke to the LORD, saying:
Numbers 27:16 “Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation,
Numbers 27:17 who may go out before them and go in before them, who may lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the LORD may not be like sheep which have no shepherd.”
Numbers 27:18 And the LORD said to Moses: “Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him;
Though God chose the new leader, He still made Moses lay hands on Joshua. God could have done this without Moses, but God was showing how He works through man and He would continue to do so.
At this point Joshua already had God’s spirit and THEN hands were laid on him and because of this an extra amount of the holy spirit is given.
Deuteronomy 34:9 Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses.
Joshua was given a position of authority that the children of Israel were to follow and listen to him.
With the position came extra help to tackle the task at hand. God does not ask us to go through this life flailing and grasping and ignorant and unable.
He has made Himself, His Son and their power available for a multitude of reasons and He has given the laying-on-of-hands to access this for some very special events.
This concept and ceremony continues into the New Testament — a setting apart for a specific service or reason; to be consecrated.
Acts 13:1 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
Acts 13:2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
Acts 13:3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.
This was part of the job of a minister — to ordain others to a role of service.
Titus 1:5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint [set, make, ordain, designate] elders in every city as I commanded you—
It was not to be taken lightly.
1 Timothy 5:22 Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure.
They were to follow the qualifications found in 1st Timothy 3 — carefully and prayerfully.
This also came with an extra measure of God’s holy spirit.
1 Timothy 4:14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.
Timothy was given this additional help to do his job as a minister!
2 Timothy 1:6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
Timothy was already a minister at this time so the reference is to the spirit that he was given for his role in the ministry.
1 Thessalonians 3:2 and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith,
Acts 6:1 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.
Acts 6:2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.
Acts 6:3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;
Acts 6:4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
Setting apart further of those that already had the holy spirit through the baptismal process to do another specified job.
Acts 6:5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch,
Acts 6:6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.
Acts 6:7 Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
Acts 6:8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.
Holy Spirit after Baptism
This is one of the most significant aspects of the laying on of hands and perhaps most overlooked.
Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.
Acts 8:13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.
Acts 8:14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,
Acts 8:15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.
Acts 8:16 For as yet it had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Acts 8:17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
This being the New Testament and our most recent example – this is what we follow and how God shows us that He works.
God Himself respected the process that He had set up. He vested this job in His ministers. He granted His Spirit when the ministry laid hands on them. So we see that He continues to use man, but not just any men.
Not just any one can do this
Acts 8:18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money,
Acts 8:19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 8:20 But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!
Acts 8:21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.
Acts 8:22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.
On the way to the next scripture
Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 19:1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples
Acts 19:2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
Acts 19:3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”
Acts 19:4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
Acts 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
There is a formal process for God’s intervention in our health issues. There is a lesson that He wants us to learn even though we already have the promise since Jesus was beaten so that we can have healing.
Isaiah 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
Though this has transpired, we still have something to do.
James 5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.
James 5:14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil [symbol of the holy spirit that is being conveyed] in the name of the Lord.
James 5:15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
God has set all of this in a specific way for a specific reason. God works through Christ through His ministry/elders to us.
Ephesians 3:9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ;
Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
Hebrews 1:2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;
Ministers do not/cannot lay hands on themselves — they call on other ministers. It’s not the man, it’s God … working through a man calling upon promises for those that are sick.
The oil, represents the healing power of God’s holy spirit.
Even Christ used the laying on of hands:
Luke 4:40 When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him [Christ]; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them.
Luke 13:11 And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.
Luke 13:12 But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.”
Luke 13:13 And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
Jesus Christ left an example for us to follow. Also, we see that He implored God to do it — since He was a man.
He admonished those/us to follow in His footsteps.
Mark 6:13 And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.
Notice the context that the laying on of hands keeps company with:
Mark 16:15 And He [Christ] said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
Mark 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
Mark 16:17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;
Mark 16:18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
When we put all of this together we see that when we are sick it takes all of the following:
- elders of the true Church
- pray for us
- anoint us with oil
- lay hands on us
- asking God to heal us
The Blessing of Little Children
Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Matthew 18:2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them,
Matthew 18:3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 19:13 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them.
Matthew 19:14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 19:15 And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.
All ordination or the setting apart in the scriptures is by the laying on of hands. It is done for sanctification or making us holy for a reason. Because of this marriage is to be respected — by those in it and by those outside of it.
There are many more examples in scripture which further supports all of these points!
God has given this elementary doctrine, a very important and necessary one even to salvation! When we consider that it takes the holy spirit to be a part of the church; a minister to be ordained, so that the laying-on-of-hands can be performed to acheive this; so that we can partake of these spiritual blessings.
It is through this symbolic ritual, using humans that have no ability in of themselves, that God conveys His power and authority to us, so that we may better help and serve one another.