Monday, December 13, 2010

The Doctrine of Laying on of Hands

The writer of Hebrews (6:1) said that the doctrine of the laying on of hands was elementary. Have you been taught it? I will be doing a class in January and this will be part of the teaching.

It is interesting how certain facets of faith are simply overlooked. It is like James 5:14. There is a simple command to have the elders pray over someone who is sick and anoint them with oil, yet, rarely have I seen them gather together for this purpose.

Here is the basic doctrine:

Hebrews 6: 1 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, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

The laying on of hands started with Jacob (Israel).

Genesis 48:14-15a Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn. And he blessed Joseph.

The laying on of hands takes place again when Moses passes his ministry on to Joshua. (Numbers 27:18-23)

The laying on of hands was also used to pronounce blessing on someone - to symbolically bestow on someone the blessing of God.

In the time of Jesus the first appearance of this practice he rebukes the disciples for trying to turn away the little children.

Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

Jesus continued the tradition of blessing people through the laying on of hands, but added the new purpose of divine healing.

Luke 4:40 When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them.

Jesus was pretty clear about the fact that we should continue in the practice.

Mark 16:17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 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.”

The laying on of hands is also done to set others apart for the work of ministry – ordination:
Acts 6:6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

And finally the last purpose to the laying on of the hands is to impart the power or baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 19:6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

The doctrine of the Laying on of Hands is a doctrine (Hebrews 6:1-2) and a spiritual gift (Acts 8:20) that can be used for the following:

- Speak God’s blessings over people
- Ordination: to bestow an office or ministry
- To impart spiritual gifts (Romans 1:11)
- To Heal
- To receive the Holy Spirit

How about you, do you lay hands on folks for healing and blessing?


Charlie's Church of Christ said...

interesting post - this is definitely not emphasized anymore. I think this has to do with theology - in that most people think of the laying on as hands as having symbolic power - but not literal power - thus making it optional. I also think in an effort to shy away from standard religious rituals that people got a) too accustomed to or b) freaked people out - we stopped emphasizing this.

David-FireAndGrace said...

@Charlie - well, there is no sense in doing things if God is not in it. Some times I think we just do stuff to do stuff. Other times we miss God because we can't follow simple instructions.

Thanks for reading along.

photogr said...

Laying of the hands is an interesting concept that dates back to biblical times. Sadly not many denominations do this much due to some ramnifications on political correctness for the 21st century. ALways best to ask first if you may do this.

The one thing I have experieced (and it is rare that I do this) on laying of hands is there is a reaction or sensation not only from the one being prayed for but also the one praying. Doesn't happen all the time (I guess from lack of faith in my case.) but when it does, you feel something. Perhaps it is God's will working a miracle.

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