The Laying on of Hands
("THEY WILL LAY HANDS ON")
"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 ...," 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 Kingdom life.
Before Pentecost, only Jesus had authority from the Father to lay hands on anyone.
Human touching conveys many things to others. And the Holy Spirit uses it to comfort, assure, affirm, etc, as part of His powerful ministry.
However, He uses the laying on of hands for specific purposes.
JESUS THEN US
The Lord laid His hands on needy people for physical healing, as Luke reports in 13'13:
"He laid His hands on her and immediately she was made straight and glorified God".
And what He did became 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.
In this instance He varied the laying on of hands, spontaneously taking her by the hand and speaking to her at the same time. She stood up and walked.
Jesus did it first as an example to His followers.
In the New Covenant Kingdom scriptures of Acts 2'2 to Revelation 3'22, Believers ministered the laying on of hands in two distinct areas of ministry, Unbelievers and Believers:
1. Unbelievers. Paul laid hands on a man who ...
"... 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. Peter and John:
"Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit," Acts 8'17.
Here are the two areas of ministry:
1. LAYING HANDS ON UNBELIEVERS
Unbelievers make up 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.
To clarify the point, 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.
Also, "... 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".
What Jesus promised came to pass as Mark reports:
"And they went out and preached everywhere,
the Lord working with them and
confirming the word through the accompanying signs,"
Signs accompanied the Lord's People soon after after the Day of Pentecost, Luke reports. For instance, the lame man who lay on the ground at the temple gate asking 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.
Once again, the laying on of hands is varied spontaneously by Peter on this occasion.
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 person indication that, in some cases, praying may be needed in advance of laying on hands.
Following this healing others requested prayer and were healed.
One very important restriction comes with this ministry. The Lord does not permit hands to be laid on anyone for the purpose of casting out demons.
It is significant that He kept the ministries of casting out spirits and physical healing well apart as Mark 16'17-18 shows:
“... these 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.”
Out of the five things on His list of signs, casting out demons is first and laying on hands for physical healing last:
"they will cast out demons" / "they will lay hands on the sick".
He had only one method for dealing with 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 and certainly no laying on of hands. It is His word that the Holy Spirit responds to and Satan has to obey, and does.
Paul knew there could be unintended consequences from laying hands on individuals unthinkingly, 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 for a number of ministries, physical and spiritual:
"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.
Elders should be prepared and ready to minister the laying on of 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.)
Although the Apostles ministered the laying on of hands first, it is important to understand that apostles were no different to Elders. All prepared Believers are qualified.
When Peter wrote to a Body of Believers he emphasised that Elders were his "fellows" and equal in standing to himself.
He adressed them as:
"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.
God wants His Elders to lead:
"I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting," 1 Timothy 2'8.
The hands that are laid on Believers should be holy.
Believers should be confident that their Elders are right before the Lord.
Prayer. Heavenly Father, thank you for the powerful ministry of laying on hands. Restore these Kingdom blessings, Lord.
In Jesus' name. Amen.