mardi 29 octobre 2013

Laying On of Hands (Doctrine)

I had the pleasure to give a series of teachings at the Living Word Association few months ago. One of them concerned the doctrine of Laying on of hands as found in the book of Hebrews 6:2. 

"Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment." Heb 6:2.

It was quite a memorable and privileged experience i was granted. Although i can't share everything that i shared during the teaching weeks; i wanted at least to share the biblical texts i used during my commentaries at the event. I hope you will find it equally interesting and relevant to your spiritual experience as a 21st Century Christian.    


1) Laying on of Hands to impart blessings:

  “And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it on Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left on Manasseh's head, crossing his hands. For Manasseh was the first-born. And he blessed Joseph and said,” - Genesis 48:14 (cfr. Gen27:27)

N.B: In this text, the hands of the patriarch was laid on the heads of Ephraim and Manasseh. It was done with the intent to transfer some form of blessings to the family of Joseph.

2) To Impart Authority

a) “And Jehovah said to Moses, Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand upon him. And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation, and give him a charge in their sight. And you shall put of your honor on him, so that all the congregation of the sons of Israel may be obedient.” Number 27:18-20

b) “And Moses did as Jehovah commanded him. And he took Joshua and set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation. And he laid his hands upon him and gave him a charge, even as Jehovah commanded by the hand of Moses.” Num 27:22-23

c) “Now Nun's son Joshua was full of the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had placed his hands on him, so Israelis listened to him and did what the LORD had commanded Moses.” Deuteronomy 34:9 ISV

N.B: Moses’ action with his hands brought a ‘new spirit’ in Joshua’s life – the spirit of wisdom. Joshua also received charge of the nation (authority) through the laying on of hands of Moses.

3) Transferring sins by the laying on of hands:
  “Aaron is to lay his two hands upon the head of the male goat and confess over it the sins of Israel, all their transgressions, and all their sins, thus placing them on the head of the male goat that he'll then send out to the wilderness by the hand of a man capable of carrying out this task.” Leviticus 16:21

4) Military victory associated with the laying on of hands:
“Then Elisha told Israel's king, "Draw the bow!" As he did so, Elisha laid his hands on top of the king's hands and ordered him, ‘Open a window that faces east.’ So he did so. Elisha ordered him, ‘Shoot!’ So he shot. Then Elisha said, ‘This is the LORD's arrow of victory—the victory arrow against Aram, because you will defeat the Arameans at Aphek until you will have utterly finished them off.’” - 2King 13:16-17 ISV

N.B: In this case, the laying on of hands was put on the hand of the king and not on his head.


1)      Laying on of hands associated with healing:

            “In my name … They will lay hands on the sick, and they will be well.” Mark 16:17-18
It is also possible that James 5:14-15 could assume such a practice of hand laying during the anointing of the sick:

            “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will cure the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up. And if he has committed sins, it will be forgiven him.

2) Imparting the Holy Spirit with hand ‘s laying:

a)      “And when Simon saw that the Holy Spirit was given through laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money,” Act 8:18
b)      “And Ananias went and entered into the house. And putting his hands on him, he said, Brother Saul, the Lord, Jesus, who appeared to you in the way in which you came, has sent me to you that you might see and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Act 9:17
c)       “And hearing, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And as Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.” Act 19:5

We have 5 accounts where the Holy Spirit comes upon people in the Book of Acts. And in three of them, it occurs via the laying on of hands:

a)       Acts 2 at Pentecost; b) Acts 8 the new converts in Samaria; c) Acts 9 Saul of tarsus; d) Acts10 at Cornelius household; e) Acts 19 the disciples at Ephesus.


Now we need to be honest about this.  On the 5 accounts of the event, 3 of them report the manifestation of what Paul referred to as spiritual gifts:

Without laying on of hands:
1. At Pentecost – speaking in other tongues and were filled
“And they were all filled of the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Act 2:4

2. At Cornelius house – spoke with tongues and praised
“For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered,” Act 10:46

With Laying on of hands:
3. At Ephesus – spoke with tongues and prophesized
“And as Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.” Act 19:6

4. At Saul’s conversion – filled with the Spirit
“And putting his hands on him, he said, Brother Saul, the Lord, Jesus, who appeared to you in the way in which you came, has sent me to you that you might see and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Acts9:17 (cfr Act 4:8 – Peter/Act9:20 - Paul)

5. At Samaria -  Simon saw something happening (unknown)
“And when Simon saw that the Holy Spirit was given through laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money,” Act 8:18

                                           SO HOW DOES IT WORK THEN?

A) Learning from Moses: What happens when the spirit was imparted?

And Jehovah said to Moses, Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel … And I will come down and ... And I will take of the spirit on you, and will put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you so that you do not bear it yourself alone.” Number 11:16-17

“And Jehovah came down in a cloud and spoke to him, and took of the spirit on him and gave it to the seventy elders. And it happened when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they never did so again. But two of the men stayed in the camp; the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other was Medad. And the Spirit rested upon them. And they were of those who were written, but did not go out to the tabernacle. And they prophesied in the camp.” Num 11:25-26

B) Learning from Moses again: What happens when the spirit is imparted?

            “And Moses did as Jehovah commanded him. And he took Joshua and set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation. And he laid his hands upon him and gave him a charge, even as Jehovah commanded by the hand of Moses.” Number 27:22-23

A)    It is interesting to notice that during the ordination of the 70 elders, when  God imparted the spirit, they prophesied. It happened only once. They never prophesied again the sacred text insist (Number 11:25).  There was a visible sign that something was being received. And that visible thing was ‘prophecy.’
B)     However, when the same ordination happened to Joshua, nothing physical was reported. However, in the course of the days, it was realized that Joshua had indeed received something during the laying on of hand ceremony. The spirit of wisdom manifested itself with time in the life of Joshua.

N.B: my conclusion simply stated is, something will definitively happen in the life of someone who has received a grace during a divine "transfer". Either directly or afterward. I believe this conclusion is warranted by the scripture as presented above. And i also believe that just like in the Old Testament text above, some people may well experience prophecy or even the speaking in foreign languages, without making this experience a definitive experience. It may well be just like the experience received with the elders in Number 11:25. They may express spiritual gifts at that particular moment and never be able to replicate that experience in the same manner. This might explain why some modern people claim to have had received a mystical experience during the laying on of hands or the baptism of the holy spirit (will be discussed on another post), and subsequently being incapable of expressing those momentary experiences afterward. This should not be regarded as abnormal. It also happened to the elders in Number 11:25 "(...) the elders; and it came to pass, that when the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but they did not repeat it ." Darby. 


1) Laying on of hands connected with spiritual danger and spirituality

“Do not lay hands quickly on anyone, neither be partaker of the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.” 1Timothy 5:22

N.B: Paul is discussing the office of elders in this particular chapter, probably the appointment of a leader. It seems that Paul might well be referring to some form of association between the one who lay hands and the one receiving the impartation. Paul is concerned that by appointing the wrong people, we may very well carry some form of responsibility for the outrage that that person may wreck during his tenure as a spiritual leader. ‘Laying hands’ is more than just a religious ceremony. It may become an act of association.

2) Imparting Spiritual Gifts
 “For I long to see you, so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, to you for the establishing of you. And this is to be comforted together with you by our mutual faith, both yours and mine.” Romans 1:11-12

We learn few facts: a) Paul is the imparter; b) The nature of the impartation is the spiritual gift; c) the purpose of the impartation is the strengthening of faith.

“I want very much to see you and give you some spiritual gift to make your faith stronger. I mean that I want us to help each other with the faith that we have. Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.” ERV

3) The Time frame of Gifts
“so that you do not lack in any spiritual gift as you eagerly await the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,” 1Corinthians 1:7 LEB

The gift is supposed to be operational until Christ comes. Hence the ministry of imparting gift as in Romans1:11 will remain of actuality until Christ appears.

4) How does Impartation of Gift works: Story of Timothy
“Do not neglect the gift that is in you, that was granted to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders.” 1Timothy 4:14

“for which reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands.” 2Timothy 1:6

It seems from these two complementary sources that the gifts that Timothy received came via the medium of the laying on of hands of the elders included Paul.

5) The usefulness of gift: Timothy again!!
“This charge I commit to you, my son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before about you, in order that you might war a good warfare by them,” 1Timothy 1:18

This verse above help complete the picture painted in 1Tim4:14, when prophecy was given with laying on of hands. The assumption is that what we receive with laying on of hands helps us fight the good fight with the virulent spiritual adversaries (Ephesians 6:12).
Other New Testament witness on the laying on of hands:

       “Therefore they stayed a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who bore witness to the word of His grace, giving miracles and wonders to be done by their hands.” Act 14:3
       As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, So, then, separate Barnabas and Saul to Me for the work to which I have called them. Then having fasted and prayed and laid hands on them, they let them go.” Act 13:2
       “And it happened the father of Publius was lying down, suffering fevers and dysentery; to whom Paul entered in, and praying and laying on his hands, he healed him.” Act 28:8
       My daughter has just now died. But come and lay Your hand on her and she will live ... He went in and took her by the hand, and the little girl arose.  Mat 9:18,25
       “And stretching out the hand, He touched him, saying, I will! Be clean! And immediately the leprosy departed from him.” Luke 5:13
       “And when Jesus had come into Peter's house, He saw his wife's mother laid out and in a fever. And He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served them.” Mat 8:14-15 
       “And taking them up in His arms, He put His hands on them and blessed them.” Mark 10:16

       The Bible (Modern King James Version, ASV, ISV)
       Foundations for Righteous Living – Derek Prince
       The Original Catholic Encyclopedia:

2 commentaires:

  1. Thank you brother for sharing this teaching! Very thoughtful, bible based doctrine. No speculative or fictitious scenarios based on the the experience. Experience should not define the Doctrine. Experience should be considered in light of the Biblical Teaching. I like the way you are choosing not to speculate whenever the Bible seems silent on a particular occurrence... The experiences of Paul receiving the H.S and the believers in Samaria would lead some guys to say " The Bible doesn't specify that Paul and the believers in Samaria did speak in tongues but we can be certain that they did!".... See? That is not a "fair" conclusion. So I love the way you are sticking to biblical facts without neglecting believers experiences.....

    1. Sorry! Forgot to sign my comment! Stephane!! LOOL