Laying on of Hands

The fourth principle is the laying on of hands. This is a foundation principle of truth for many reasons. The next paragraphs will explain four reasons why laying on of hands is important in the foundation of your life and in the Lord’s church.

The first biblical principle regarding laying hands on an individual is the principle of blessing. We find this practice throughout the Bible, all the way back to the book of Genesis. Esau was the first born and had the right to receive his father’s blessing. However, Isaac blessed Jacob (whom he thought was Esau) because Jacob deceived his father. The blessing could not be reversed. Fast forward to Jesus laying His hands on the little children: “Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.” (Matthew 19:13-15 NKJV). Can you imagine having Jesus lay His hand on you and praying? I have had many individuals lay their hands on me from my youth forward, praying over me for God’s favor and blessing. I know that the Holy Spirit in those individuals gave to me many impartations of God’s grace. I have many memories of the blessings that followed the laying on of hands and prayer over my life.

The second biblical principle in the laying on of hands is found in receiving the filling of the Holy Spirit. Peter and John laid hands on the Samaritans who believed the word that Phillip had preached. The Bible says that “they received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:17b NKJV). When Paul was in Ephesus, he found twelve disciples of John the Baptist and asked 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.’ And he said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ So they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’” (Acts 19:2-3 NKJV). Paul explained that John’s baptism was for the purpose of repentance, preparing the Jewish people for Christ’s coming. “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.” (Acts 19:5–6 NKJV).

The third biblical principle in the laying on of hands relates to the impartation of physical healing. Mark wrote that laying hands on the sick is included in the Great Commission to go into all the world: “And these signs will follow those who believe . . . they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:18 NKJV). Luke wrote: “While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on every one of them and healed them.” Paul prayed and healed Publius’ father: “And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him.” (Acts 28:8 NKJV). James gave this instruction: “Is anyone among you sick? 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.” (James 5:14 NKJV). They were obviously using their hands to put the oil on the individual.

The fourth biblical principle of the laying on of hands is at the ordination of a believer into a ministry office. Before ordaining a believer, we must remember God’s warning about the laying on of hands when ordaining a person into a governmental ministry office: “Do not lay hands on anyone hastily.” (1 Timothy 5:22 NKJV). When it comes to believers who will be ordained as leaders in the Lord’s church, they must be proven, mature, and called to an office, especially that of elder in the Lord’s body. In Acts 6 the apostles had the people seek out seven men full of the Holy Spirit to be appointed as deacons. Those seven men were “set before the apostle; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.” (Acts 6:6 NKJV). In Acts 14 the apostles appointed elders in every church. Paul wrote to Titus, “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you.” (Titus 1:5 NKJV). Laying on of hands is not specifically mentioned, but that was the practice according to Paul’s first letter to Timothy.