The Doctrine of the Laying on of Hands

Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. Hebrews 6:2

Whether as observers or as receivers, all or a great majority of us have been exposed to the doctrine of the laying on of hands on more than one occasion; it is not an unknown subject to those who have ever participated in an evangelical cult. What we do not know, perhaps, is why such a practice takes place within the churches.

Like some of the component doctrines of the apostles’ doctrine that we have pointed out at the time, the doctrine of laying on of hands was taken from the traditional practice of the customs of Mosaic Judaism, and integrated as an extension of the ritual observance of the Law.

The only marked difference between the before and the after of its institutionalization as part of the apostles’ doctrine was its popularization by apostles, prophets, elders, presbytery, etc., within the daily uses of the Lord’s church.

Previously its practice was reduced to the rituals of sacrifices and holocausts offered in observance of the fulfillment of the Mosaic Law. The apostles integrate it into their doctrine with a more active participation in the use of various ministerial applications.

However, the entire people had a notion of the value of the laying on of hands,

The LORD shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. Deuteronomy 28:8

For spiritual effects, the hand could not be placed on any part of the body, but exclusively on the head,

And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn.   …  17And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head. Genesis 48:14-17

In biblical conception, the head represents the existence of the person,

Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh’s cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler.  …   16When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said unto Joseph, I also was in my dream, and, behold, I had three white baskets on my head:  …  19Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee. Genesis 40:13-20

In sacrifices, the imposition of hands on the head of the animal represented the substitution of the person in exchange for the animal,

And thou shalt cause a bullock to be brought before the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the bullock.    …  15Thou shalt also take one ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram. Exodus 29:10-15


And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. Leviticus 1:4


And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it before the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron’s sons shall sprinkle the blood thereof round about upon the altar. Leviticus 3:8


And he shall bring the bullock unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD; and shall lay his hand upon the bullock’s head, and kill the bullock before the LORD. Leviticus 4:4

In the sacrifices, those who laid hands on the head of the animal were those who had to pay with their lives the guilt for their sin, to be represented by the animal and free their lives from death. In the laying on of hands on the animal it was executed the transference of own sins of the people and they were loaded on the animal, the animal dies in substitution of the person and the sins are dissolved in its death,

And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands upon the head of the bullock before the LORD: and the bullock shall be killed before the LORD. Leviticus 4:15


And the Levites shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bullocks: and thou shalt offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, unto the LORD, to make an atonement for the Levites.  Numbers 8:12

  • WHAT THE LAYING ON OF HANDS CONSISTS OF

The laying on of hands is the spiritual way to impart and transfer spiritual virtues. It is not a religious rite, or a symbolic form to indicate a divine operation; it is the means established by God to transfer upon the person the virtue invoked by the imposer of hands.

The importance and spiritual value of its use can be seen in the Apostle Paul’s recommendation to Timothy not to lay hands lightly,

Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure. 1st. Timothy 5:22

And it is not a question of using any hand, at the discretion of the person who practices it; it has to be the right hand, because in the biblical conception, the imposition of the right hand on a person has the sense of indicating that it is greater than the one on the left, as evidenced in the following texts,

And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn.   …  18And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. Genesis 48:14-18

It also has the meaning of indicating that what is on the right-hand side represents a person, or persons, approved by the one who makes the difference,

33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  …   41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: Mathew 25:33-41

Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father, indicating the Father’s pleasure in the work entrusted to him,

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1 (see also Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62; Hebrews 1:3; 10:12)

  • WHO ARE AUTHORIZED TO LAY HANDS ON

Not every person is authorized to lay hands, for as we indicated above, in the laying on of hands there is spiritual transference. It may be the case that one person transfers defilement over another, as in the case of Simon the magician who, although a believer, would have transferred to those whom he imposed hands the magical spiritual defilement that he carried,

And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Acts 8:18

Biblically, the people authorized to lay hands are:

  1. An ordained and recognized minister

An ordained minister is an apostle, a prophet, a pastor, an elder, etc., in general terms, a minister who preaches the Good News of the Gospel. When we speak of an ordained minister we are referring to a minister chosen by the Lord who is exercising the ministry according to the biblical disposition; we are not referring to the “ordination” ceremony that some associations perform for their members.

The first ordination of a minister is spiritually executed by the Lord when He chooses and confers ministry on the person. Although the Bible recognizes the pre-eminence of some ministries over others, the laying on of hands is executed depending on the availability that the region possesses. We cannot and should not discriminate between ministries; God honors the ministries He has raised up,

Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. 2nd. Timothy 1:6

  1. The presbytery

The presbytery is equivalent to a clergy body, whether of the local church, the association of churches, or the accredited pastoral body present at an occasional assembly.

Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. 1st. Timothy 4:14

  • WHAT THE LAYING ON OF HANDS IS USED FOR

  1. To impart and/or ordain ministry

Ministries are imparted according to the confirmation of the Holy Spirit upon the people whom God calls to establish the Gospel of the Kingdom,

As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 3And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. Acts 13:2-3

  1. To recognize and submit to local ministries

The act of laying hands on a ministry, in this case, is to recognize them and submit to them. It consists of members of a congregation laying hands on local ministries in recognition of and subjection to their ministries. This is to avoid challenging divine authority.

And thou shalt bring the Levites before the LORD: and the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites: 11And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the LORD for an offering of the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the LORD. Numbers 8:10,11

  1. To impart the baptism of the Holy Spirit

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a spiritual operation of Jesus upon the person; in many cases the baptism of the Holy Spirit has been operated without the intervention of a person, as in the case of Cornelius and his house; however, when the person has not received it after some time, it is necessary the intervention of some minister to correct the teaching if there is any deficiency.

Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. Acts 8:17


And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. Acts 19:6

  1. To impart spiritual gifts

Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. 1st. Timothy 4:14

  1. To take authority and/or exercise deliverance

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. Mark 16:17-18

  1. To impart healings

And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. Mark 5:23


And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. Acts 9:17

  1. To bless

This was a usual practice among the people, mainly in the case of the parents over the children, and/or patriarchs over the people, to bless the children, the bride and groom at their wedding,

And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn. 15And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, 16The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. Genesis 48:14-16

The laying on of hands is a doctrine that today has lost much of its spiritual sense, and in many places even inoperative, not because it has been spiritually deactivated by the Lord but because the ministers do not receive, nor are they updated, with adequate biblical and spiritual formation on the subject.

The Lord continues to operate and establish upon His people, and to activate many competent ministers so that by acts of faith they may awaken the weight of Glory that has been given to us through the revelation of His Word.

 

All biblical quotations are taken from the King James Version.

Pastor Pedro Montoya

Twitter: @pastormontoya

https://earthenwarevessels.blog

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