Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ,
let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation
of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands,
and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
Laying on of hands is a special gesture in Christianity.It is the act of one Christian laying their hands on another to heal them, impart God’s blessing on them, give them the Holy Ghost, dispense their spiritual gifts, or appoint them to a new ministry.Laying on of hands is usually accompanied by prayer; the person laying the hands prays at the same time.
Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
Then were there brought unto him little children, that he [Christ] should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.
Laying on of hands is one of the most basic doctrines of the faith.Some may find this surprising, since many churches neither teach it nor practice it.If you have been reading this series on the “Principles of the Doctrine of Christ” and have been a Christian for any length of time, you will realize that these are the most basic doctrines of the faith.Yet sometimes it is good for us to have the basics refreshed in our mind.Laying on of hands is one of these basic doctrines, yet unfortunately few know about it.Hebrews 6:1,2 states that laying on of hands is one of the principle, basic, doctrines of Christ and places it in the same doctrinal category as repentance from dead works and faith toward God.:
1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
Laying on of hands is basic, milky doctrine and this passage says that we need to know it TO GO ONTO PERFECTION. Now lets go on to perfection…
Laying on of hands is used the most in the Bible for healing the sick. Divine healing did not end after the apostles died. Jesus said, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mk 16:17,18). The healing was to follow them that believe. Note that this is part of the Great Commission!! It doesn’t just apply to the early church.
But on the other hand you should not go running after signs and wonders, either. Jesus said a wicked and adulterous generation goes around looking for signs (Matt 12:39). Signs and wonders are primarily for unbelievers. There are charlatans out there TODAY doing false miracles and attracting people to them. When the Antichrist comes doing his false signs and lying wonders (2 Thess 2:9), they will flock after him like sheep of to the slaughter.
Here are several cases where people were healed by laying on of hands.
23 And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.
And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
And he touched her [Peter’s mother in law] hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.
And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.
23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.
24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.
25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.
Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.
11 And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.
12 And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.
13 And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
And [Saul] hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
8 And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.
Laying on of hands can be used to give a Christian the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. Of course it is not the only way that you can receive Him. You can receive the Holy Ghost by simply asking God for Him. Some even receive His Baptism at salvation. But laying on of hands can sometimes be more effective. (For more on receiving the Holy Ghost, please see my article on “Baptisms”)
And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
Laying on of hands is also one of the ways used to give someone their spiritual gifts. Since the Holy Ghost gives you your gifts (1 Cor 12:11), you get your gifts when you receive the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. And since the Baptism of the Holy Ghost can come from laying on of hands, your spiritual gifts can be given to you by laying on of hands. “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied” (Acts 19:6). When Paul laid his hands on these people, they received the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost gave them the gifts of tongues and prophecy. Paul’s young companion Timothy also received his spritual gift by laying on of hands:
Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
1 Tim 4:14
Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
2 Tim 1:6
Laying on of hands is used to impart blessing on one another. My pastor at church will hold up his hand with palm toward the congregation, like laying on everyone at once, while saying the last prayer. Parents brought their children to Jesus so that He could touch them and lay hands on them. They did this because they knew He would bless them by touching them.
13 Then were there brought unto him [Jesus] little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.
14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
15 And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.
13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.
14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.
Laying on of hands is also done (or should be done) when appointing people to new ministries, such as sending people out to the mission field, or giving them the office of a deacon. When Paul and Barnabas were sent out on their first missionary journey, the disciples laid hands on them. They had been ministers of the gospel for several years, but this missionary ministry was new to them.
2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
The apostles prayed and laid hands on those who were selected to help distribute food and other necessities to the needy and widows (kind of like deacons or overseers). Although their ministry of helps seems small, it was important, and shows laying on of hands should be used to place people into greater ministries, also.
5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
Laying on of hands is Biblical, but there are some cautions that need to be taken. “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure” (1 Tim 5:22). You should not lay hands on someone if you do not know what you are doing. Note that in all the Scriptures quoted in this article, it was one of the apostles who were laying on the hands. Most laying on of hands in the church should be by the leadership, and established Christians if necessary. A new believer should NOT be laying hands on people till they have been grounded in the faith, at least, and understand what they are doing. If you lay hands on people, you should make sure that the person is sincere in the faith (not someone from outside pretending to be a Christian). If they are asking for the Holy Ghost, make sure that they are committed to obey and follow Christ at all costs and in all areas of their life. If you are letting someone lay hands on you, make sure that they are a man of God.
Laying on of hands is one of the principle doctrines of Christ.So now lets go out and practice it.