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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, May 25 2023

The laying on of hands

The laying on of hands is one of the fundamental doctrines of Christ. Yet, to many it is an obscure practice. You don’t hear about it in many sermons, nor is it a subject a lot of people ask about.

The laying on of hands
Credit: Envato Elements
by Gary Petty

Hebrews 6:1-2 lists some of the foundational teachings of the Bible, which includes the laying on of hands. It is a physical act meant to picture a spiritual reality or spiritual event. It symbolizes the conferring of a blessing and, after baptism, the receipt of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 19:13-15 is an example of Jesus praying and laying His hands on the children who were brought to Him, asking His Father in heaven to bless them.

Genesis 48:14 describes Jacob laying hands on his sons Ephraim and Manasseh, symbolizing God’s blessing and revealing the prophecies concerning these two nations (see our free brochure The United States And Britain In Bible Prophecy).

The laying on of hands also occurs when God ordains or appoints His servants to positions of responsibility and authority within His chosen assembly, both in the Old and New Testaments.

Numbers 27:18-23 records the appointment of Joshua over Israel when hands were laid on him, and Acts 6:4-6 and 13:1-3 describes the ordaining of deacons and elders in the New Testament Church which included the ceremony of the laying on of hands

The laying on of hands is a public witness of submission to authority. An ordained person is not an authority unto themselves. They submit to the authority of the Father, who has given the authority to judge to His Son…Jesus Christ. He has also made Christ head of His Church.

The purpose of laying on of hands in healing is also tied to the recognition of and submission to authority. Mark 6:4-5 and Luke 4:40 record Jesus healing by the laying on of hands. Besides demonstrating compassion and love, healing was one of the many signs Jesus was the promised Messiah to whom power, authority and dominion were given. Paul also healed by the laying on of hands, demonstrating who he was and the validity of his commission to preach to the non-Jewish world (Acts 28:8).

The laying on of hands is a very important part of the ceremony of baptism. One of the foundational doctrines of the church is to be baptized – to be immersed in water as a symbol of forgiveness of your sins after repentance and the acceptance of Jesus Christ as your Savior. Then hands are laid on the newly baptized person and they receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 19:1-7 demonstrates the importance of these ceremonies being performed correctly.

Since the days of the Apostles, the laying on of hands after baptism has signified the actual moment of the receiving of the Holy Spirit. It is only through the gift of God's Spirit that we can develop the godly attitude of obedience and faith. The practice of laying on of hands for the receiving of God's Spirit is mentioned in Acts 8:17 and 2 Timothy 1:6.