The Laying on of Hands
"Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ,
let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation
of repentance from dead works
and of faith toward God,
of the teaching of immersions,
of laying on of hands,
of resurrection of the dead
and of eternal judgment.
And this we will do if God permits," Hebrews 6'1-3.
"Do not neglect the gift that is in you,
which was given to you by prophecy
with the laying on of the hands
of the Eldership," 1 Timothy 4'14.
Since the Day of Pentecost, the laying on of hands has been ministered by the Lord's People as part of their Kingdom life.
Before Pentecost only Jesus had authority from the Father to lay hands on anyone.
Right from birth, intentional affectionate human touching conveys many things. And the Holy Spirit may use such things as comfort, assurance, affirmation, etc, to convey His powerful ministry.
Laying on of hands is God-ordained Holy Spirit touching for specific purposes.
THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS
Out of His compassion for them the Lord laid His hands on needy people for their physical healing.
Luke reports in 13'13:
"He laid His hands on her and immediately she was made straight and glorified God".
His ministry of laying on hands for healing became well known:
"... one of the rulers of the synagogue came, Jairus by name. And when he saw Him, he fell at His feet and begged Him earnestly, saying, 'My little daughter lies at the point of death.
Come and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live'," Mark 5'22-24,35-41.
Jesus varied the laying on of hands ministry in this instance. He did it as a spontaneous action, taking her by the hand, speaking to her. Consequently she arose and walked.
In the New Covenant Kingdom scriptures the laying on of hands is used in two distinct areas of ministry:
1. Laying hands on Unbelievers:
A man "... 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.
2. Believers laying hands on Believers:
"Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit," Acts 8'17.
1. LAYING HANDS ON UNBELIEVERS
Unbelievers are the world who God so loves (John 3'16). Having expressed His love by sending Jesus, the Father wants to express Himself to the world through Christ's People.
Hence Jesus said:
"... as the Father has sent Me, I also send you," John 20'21.
Further to that He said:
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also;
and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father," John 14'12.
And that "... signs will follow those who believe":
"In My name they will cast out demons;
they will speak with new tongues;
they will take up serpents;
and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them;
they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover".
Mark goes on to report that what Jesus promised came to pass:
"And they went out and preached everywhere,
the Lord working with them and
confirming the word through the accompanying signs,"
Luke's report reveals signs accompanying the Lord's People soon after the Day of Pentecost.
For instance, when a lame man, who lay on the ground at a temple gate, asked for money:
"... fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, 'Look at us.'
So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.
Then Peter said, 'Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk'.
And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them - walking, leaping, and praising God," Acts 3'4-8.
This example shows Peter varying the laying on of hands.
On the island of Malta:
"... 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.
So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed," Acts 28'8-9.
Here Paul felt it necessary to pray before laying his hands on the father of Publius. In some cases praying may be needed in advance of laying on hands.
Following this healing others requested prayer and were healed.
Hands off! Although some may think otherwise, the Lord does not permit hands being laid on anyone to cast out demons - only those with physical needs.
It is significant that He kept the two ministries (casting out spirits and physical healing) well apart.
Out of the five things on His list of signs in Mark 16, exorcising demons is first and laying on hands last!
"they will cast out demons" / "they will lay hands on the sick".
He had only one method for anyone troubled or affected by evil spirits:
He "... cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick," Mark 8'16.
No sprinkling of "holy" water, no waving of the Bible, no other thing; certainly no laying on of hands. Only His word carries the power.
Paul knew there could be unintended consequences from indiscriminately laying hands on individuals, so he warned:
"Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure," 1 Timothy 5'22.
2. LAYING HANDS ON BELIEVERS
Kingdom Elders are vital in many ways for many ministries including laying on hands. Some hold the idea that this ministry is for "special" ministers. However, that was not held by the apostle Peter.
When he wrote to a Body of Believers he emphasised that Elders were "fellows" who are equal in standing to himself. He stated:
"The Elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow Elder," 1 Peter 5'1.
The Elders' shepherding-overseeing ministry calls for them and their Wives to be as ready to pray as Peter the elder was.
Various ministry demands arise for Elders who are prepared to lay on hands:
- "Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them ... they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.
Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit," Acts 8'14-17.
- "Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands," 2 Timothy 1'6.
- "Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership," 1 Timothy 4'14.
- "... whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them" Acts 6'6.
- "... certain prophets and teachers ... having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away," Acts 13'1-3.
- "And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied," Acts 19'6.
- "And Ananias ... laying his hands on him he said, 'Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, ... has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit'," Acts 9'17. (Physical and spiritual ministry in one!)
- "For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift," Romans 1'11. (This impartation would probably be by the laying on of hands.)
Praying and anointing:
"Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the Elders,
and let them pray over him,
anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
And the prayer of faith will save the sick,
and the Lord will raise him up.
And if he has committed sins,
he will be forgiven," James 5'14-15.
"I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting," 1 Timothy 2'8. Elders in particular are to be like this.
Those who ask Elders to pray for them should be confident their Elders are right before the Lord. Being acceptable to God makes the fervent prayers of a righteous man effective (James 5'16).
The hands that are laid on Believers should be holy.
Prayer. Heavenly Father, thank you for the powerful ministry of laying on hands and anointing. Restore these Kingdom blessings, Lord.
In Jesus' name. Amen.