Laying on of Hands
Strong foundations last long
Laying on of hands - A doctrinal study
Is it necessary to study the doctrine of laying on of hands ?
This is one of the foundational doctrines (Heb 6:1,2) How can a believer go on to the spiritual maturity without laying this foundation properly?
Some go to the extreme of practicing it so liberally without any seriousness while others neglect this totally. The right understanding about this doctrine will help us to have the balance in teaching as well as in practicing the laying on of hands.
II. MEANING OF LAYING ON OF HANDS:
It is an act of placing the hands on someone for a specific spiritual purpose. It may be accompanied with prayer or prophetic utterances. Because believers do not understand the right meaning of laying on of hands, they try to push or shake others head and some give a serve vibration to their own hands while laying their hands on others. We should not give importance to the physical movements while practicing this. Let us know the spiritual significance and purpose of laying on of hands.
III. PURPOSES OF LAYING ON OF HANDS IN OLD TESTAMENT
1. To Transfer sins:
"He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites - all their sins - and put them on the goats head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task" (Lev 16:21,22)
By laying the hands upon the animals their sins were transferred to them and those animals were slain as their substitute (Ex 26:10-20; Lev 1:4).
2. To impart the blessings
"But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim's head, though he was the younger and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh's head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn." Gen 48:14
"He blessed them that day ....." Gen 48:20
3. To impart the spiritual authority.
"So the Lord said to Moses "Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay your hand on him. ....Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him ......." Num 27:18-21
"Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, as The Lord instructed through Moses ," Num 27:23
The leadership was transferred to Joshua from Moses by laying on of hands. Joshua received a part of spiritual authority from Moses, because Moses laid his hands on him. However, in New Testament we do not have any evidence for imparting the spiritual authority by laying on of hands.
4. To impart of the spiritual wisdom:
"Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him......." Duet 34:9
Moses imparted the spiritual wisdom to Joshua through laying on of hands.
5. To set apart the Levites for ministry:
"You are to bring the Levites before the Lord, and the Israelites are to lay their hands on them" Num 8:10
God accepted the Levites in place of all the firstborn sons of Israel. (Num 8:18)They represented the whole community of Israel. In order to acknowledge this fact. That is Levites are offered unto the Lord as the firstborn sons of Israel they laid their hands on Levites.
There is not even a single record in the Bible about people falling flat and unconscious while receiving the Holy Spirit by laying on of hands ! !
IV. PURPOSE OF LAYING ON OF HANDS IN NEW TESTAMENT
1. To minister the healing:
Lord Jesus and apostles practiced the laying on of hands again and again to heal the sick. (Luke 4:40, 13:13, acts 9:17, 28:8,9) "And these signs will accompany those who believe : ..... they will place their hands on sick people and they will get well. (16:17,18)
This method is mostly used in healing the unsaved ones; Prayer and anointing with oil is the most suitable method recommended for believers healing. (James 5:14, 15). However laying on of hands is practiced to impart the healing as a blessing to the saved and unsaved ones.
All believers have the privilege to lay hands on the sick. This practice is not limited to gifted ones. (Mark 16:17,18). i.e. Ananias, being an ordinary disciple, placed his hands on Paul for his healing (Acts 9: 17,18)
In Gospel meetings, sick people including the unsaved are mostly asked to lay their own hands on their sick body; whereas laying on of hands is a sign of believers. "And these signs will accompany those who believe ............. They will place their hands on sick people ....." (Mark 16:17,18)
Without any healing gift, a believer can lay his hands on the sick as an act of faith which may bring the healing from God, Healing power can also be transferred to the sick body by this method. However healing is not in the hand of man, but it is in God's hand. While ministering the healing, laying on of hands may or may not be accompanied with prayer.
2. To send forth the people for specific work:
"So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and send them off" Act 13:3
At Antioch church, teachers and prophets laid their hands on Barnabas and Saul, not to commission them as apostles, but to send them forth for apostolic work. This reference is being wrongly quoted for ordination.
Barnabas and Saul have been called to be apostles (Acts. 13:2) and their calling was confirmed by prophecy. Antioch church recognized their ministry. As a sign of recognition and support, they laid their hand on time. This was done according to the direction of the Holy Spirit and with fasting prayer.
Local churches ought to practice this even today while sending forth the ministers for specific work which will surely help them to complete their mission successfully. (Acts 14:26,27)
3. To appoint elders and deacons in the Local churches:
Apostles laid their hands on chosen men to appoint them as elders and deacons in the local churches. Paul instructed Timothy not to lay hands on anyone hastily in relation to the appointment of elders (1 Tim 5:22). Before the laying on of hands for the appointment of elders, it must be ensured that the individual meets all the required qualifications ( 1 Tim 3: 1-12, Titus 1:5-11)
In Jerusalem church, apostles laid their hands on seven chosen men to appoint them as deacons (Acts 6:6) They were of good report ....... Full of Holy Spirit and wisdom. (Act 6:3). To appoint anyone as an elder or a deacon, who is not chosen by God, is contrary to the work of the Holy Spirit. It I s very much necessary to know the mind of the Holy Spirit regarding the appointment of elders and deacons.
In New Testament, spiritual authority is not transferred by laying on of hands but the hands are laid upon the elders and deacons, who have been already called by God, to recognize their calling.
4. To receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit
Apostles laid their hands on newborn believers that they may receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:14-24, 9:10-17, 19:6) Apostle Peter refers this as a gift of God (Act 8:20). However, this practice is not limited to apostles only. Anania, being an ordinary disciple laid his hand on Saul that he may receive the baptism of Holy Spirit. (Act 9:17). Whoever is born again has the Holy Spirit within him (Rom 8:15), Gal 4:6, Eph 1:13), but to receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit someone may lay his hand upon him. We must also remember baptism of the Holy Spirit is the work of Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 1:5)
5. To impart spiritual gifts:
"Do not neglect he gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the Eldership (1 Tim 4:14)
"Therefore I remind you to strip up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands ( II Tim 1:6)
"For I long to see you that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established" (Rom 1:11)
These verses clearly prove that spiritual gift can be imparted through laying on of hands, but Apostle Paul did not mention the names of those spiritual gifts which were imparted to Timothy.
Although spiritual gifts can be imparted through laying of hands, they are distributed not according to human will; but according to the will of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:11, Heb 2:4)
We don't find any other evidence in the Bible about imparting the gifts, except the references given by Apostle Paul himself. So It is sure that only a few men like Paul had the grace and authority to impart the spiritual gifts to others. However, every believer in New Testament has the direct access to receive the spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit even without the laying on of hands. Regarding this, we need to seek the leading of the Holy Spirit.
V. CAUTIONS TO THOSE WHO LAY HANDS ON OTHERS:
While practicing he laying on of hands, spirit to spirit contact takes place, so those who lay on hands must be spiritually prepared and should seek the direction of the Holy Spirit. In the scripture, we find at many places, apostles laid their hands as a team; as far as possible we should also practice this along with our fellow brethren.
Derek Price suggests the following four main safeguards for believers who want to practice the laying on of hands.
"First, this ministry should never be exercised lightly or carelessly, but always in a spirit of prayer and humility.
Second, the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit should be sought at every stage; with whom to pray, when to pray, how to pray?
Third, the believer who lays on hands must know how to claim the purifying and protecting power of the blood of Christ.
Fourth, the believer who lays hands on others must himself be so empowered by the Holy Spirit that he is able to overcome any kind of evil spiritual influence seeking to work in or through the one upon whom hands are laid.
Read my article on reformation:
VI. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT LAYING ON OF HANDS
(A) Should we allow all to lay their hands on us ?
There are many visiting ministers and traveling ministers who come from far places to our local churches. We should not allow all these ministers to lay their hands on us. Before we let someone to lay their hands on us we must identify them irrespective of the supernatural manifestations they have. ........... Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerades as servants of righteousness ...." II Cor 11:14,15. "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out in to the world." I John 4:1.
False ministers, with great signs and wonders, will infiltrate the churches to impart evil things and dominic spirits by laying their hands on believers. Remember the warning given by our Lord; "for false Christ and false prophets will appear if that were possible" Math 24:24. So believers ought to be very careful in this matter.
(b) Is it necessary to lay on hands to drive out demons from the demon-possessed people?
Jesus Christ expelled the dominic spirits by His word, not through laying on of hands. Nowhere in the Bible we have a reference of laying on of hands in connection with the casting out of demons. However, if the Holy Spirit directs a believer to lay his hand to drive out demon then he can do so, otherwise, it is better to follow the scriptural pattern.
(c)Is it right to push the people back while laying our hands on them ?
"Some try to push the people back by placing their hands on the forehead of the people. While doing so, some people resist and stand straight while others bend back and fall down. Laying on of hands means just placing our hands. Laying on of hands is a scriptural practice but pushing is a human effort which is not recommended in the Bible. We have the authority only to lay our hands, not to push the people back. We must know our limits in practicing the laying on of hands.
(d) Is it possible to get defiled because of laying our hands on others?
"Do not be hasty in laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. " (1 Tim 5:22) Paul's instruction clearly shows that our sanctification can be lost, if we carelessly practice this. Laying on of hands is spoken here in connection with sharing the sins of others, that is, there is a danger of transfer of sins. We should not be hasty; but we should wait on the Holy Spirit.
(e) Is it necessary to lay our hands on the affected part of the body while ministering to the sick?
Jesus Christ said "They shall place their hands on the sick" Laying our hands on sick person itself is sufficient. There is no need of laying our hands on affected or sick part of the body. It is wise to lay our hands on the head or shoulder of the sick people.
(f) It is necessary to lay hands on someone again and again for extra-anointing?
It has been the practice f many ministers, whenever there is a special meeting, to call the people to the front for extra-anointing. This is also practiced in Sunday services whenever a visiting minister comes to local church. People also think that they receive some extra doses of spiritual power because hands are laid upon them again and again.
Do we have any scripture which says that we must practice the laying on of hands again and again for extra-anointing? Did the apostles lay their hands repeatedly on any believer for extra-anointing?
Apostles laid their hands on believers only for initial filling of the Holy Spirit. They did not do it repeatedly; but they encouraged the believers to be filled with the Spirit. (Eph 5:8)
We need to receive the extra-anointing directly from the Lord, which depends on our spiritual walk before him (John 7:37, Heb 1:9)
(g) Why do people fall down unconsciously when hands are laid on them?
We do not have a single reference in the Bible which says that the people fell down unconsciously when hands are laid on them. We ought to go back to the Bible irrespective of our experiences. Ministers of God who lay their hands on believers for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, have no declare now the words of our Master, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you" (Acts 1:8). On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit come upon the apostles, they received power and they stood up instead of falling down. (Acts 2:14) Is he not the same Holy Spirit Today? In the scripture laying on of hands is related with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; but apostles never laid their hands on someone to knock him down or to give him a shock.
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