The Laying On Of Hands

TEXTHeb. 6:1-3

INTRODUCTION:

A.  PRACTICED THROUGHOUT BIBLE TIMES.

B.  QUESTIONS ARISE REGARDING LAYING ON HANDS.

          1.  What was its purpose?

          2.  Was it just a custom of those times, or does it have a role in the church today?

C.  IT IS INCLUDED AS A PART OF THE “FIRST PRINCIPLES OF CHRIST.”

          1.  Along with repentance, faith, baptism, the resurrection and judgment

          2.  Yet one often hears little taught on this subject in some churches

I.      IN THE OLD TESTAMENT.

A.  IN BESTOWING BLESSINGS (Gen 48:14).... Jacob & his grandsons (Gen 48:17-20).

B.  IN OFFERING SACRIFICES...

          1.  Such as peace offerings, sin offerings, and burnt offerings

                   a.  Those practiced on normal occasions (Lev. 3:1-2, 8, 13; 4:4).

                   b.  That practiced at the Levites' dedication ( Num 8:12).

          2.  Such as during the annual day of atonement, by the high priest (Lev 16:21).

C. IN ORDAINING TO SERVICE...

          1.  At the ordination of the Levites as priests (Num. 8:10).

          2.  At the selection of Joshua to succeed Moses (Num 27:18-23).

D.  IN RELATION TO JUDGMENT... (Lev 24:14).

E.  The idea in these cases varies with the purpose of the act. The primary idea seems to be that

          of conveyance or transference (compare Lev 16:21), but, conjoined with this, in certain

          instances, are the ideas of identification and of devotion to God. (ISBE)

F.  THIS IS JUST ABOUT ALL WE HAVE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT.

II. IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.

A.  DURING THE MINISTRY OF JESUS...

          1.  Blessed children through laying on of hands with prayer (Matt. 19:13-15).

          2.  Healed people by the laying on of hands in Nazareth (Mark 6:5), Capernaum

                   (Luke 4:40), a woman with infirmity of eighteen years (Luke 13:13).

B. IN THE LIFE OF THE EARLY CHURCH...

          1.  The apostles healed by the laying on of hands (Mark 16:15-20;  Acts 5:1228:8).

          2.  Ananias restored Saul's sight by the laying on of hands – (Acts 9:12,17).

          3.  Spiritual gifts were imparted by the laying on of the apostles’ hands

                   a.  The Samaritans, by Peter and John (Acts 8:14-17).

                   b.  The Ephesians, by Paul (Acts 19:6).

                   c.  Timothy, by Paul ( 2Tim. 1:6).

          4.  Appointment or dedication to service was accompanied with the laying on of hands

                   a.  By the apostles in appointing the seven to serve tables (Acts 6:1-6).

                   b.  By prophets and teachers in sending out Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:1-3).

                   c.  Timothy, by prophecy with the eldership (1Tim. 4:14).  NOT miracles (see 3c)

III.    IN THE CHURCH TODAY.

A.  IN SOME RESPECTS, ITS PURPOSE HAS CEASED...

          1.  There is certainly no need to lay hands on sacrifices as in the Old Testament

                   a.  Which sacrifices could not truly remove sin (Heb. 10:1-4).

                   b.  Which sacrifices came to an end with the sacrifice of Christ (Heb. 10:5-14).

          2.  The purpose for miraculous spiritual gifts has been fulfilled

                   a.  Which was to reveal and confirm the Word (Mark 16:19-20Heb. 2:3-4).

                   b.  Which was designed to be temporary ( 1Cor. 13:8-10).

B.  IN OTHER RESPECTS, ITS SYMBOLISM CAN HAVE MEANING...

          1.  In ordaining those who serve

                   -  Indicating acceptance and approval of those who have been selected by the

                             congregation (Acts 6:1-6;  1 Tim. 5:22).

                   -  Beseeching God's blessing and protection on those who serve (Acts 13:1-3).

CONCLUSION:

A.  BIBLICAL AUTHORITY FOR THIS PRACTICE IS THIN.

          1.  One tendency can be to make more of the practice than God intends

          2.  Another can be to ignore it all together

B.  BASED ON WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS

          1.  Laying on hands can have a useful place in the lives of Christians and the church.

          2.  Its rich symbolism can have meaning, if for no other purpose.

                   a.   In appointing those selected to serve as elders, deacons, etc.

                   b.  In praying for those who are sick.

C.  OTHER ACTIONS TAKE ITS PLACE IN OUR TIME (1 Cor. 9:19-23).

          In the absence of such a practice, we are likely to adopt other customs which symbolize

          and convey similar things as did the laying on of hands (e.g., a handshake).  There would

          be no scriptural problem with laying on hands.