Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. (Heb 6:1-3)
I have been in the church for over 24 years now, and I have not heard a lot of studies done on the subject of “laying on of hands.”
So I decided to do one just to see what I would come up with. After doing this study, I had a better sense of why we should do this more often. We may be surprised what we are transferring to others when we lay hands on them and pray!
In the above scripture, the writer of Hebrews makes mention of the “laying on of hands” as a principle doctrine of Christ. So, what is this doctrine? Where is it found?
After searching the New Testament, I have not found any direct commands for us to lay hands on people, but there are plenty of scriptures telling us that it was done.
So, to find exact teachings on the subject we have to remember that Jesus and the Apostles did and taught their doctrine from the Old Testament. So, let’s look at the foundation of this doctrine from the Old Testament and then see later why Paul calls it a principle doctrine of Christ.
We read in Lev 8:22 that the priest laid their hands on a ram of consecration. This ritual was how consecration was brought about. We will see later how this works in the N.T. They also laid their hands on the scape goat of sin before releasing it into the wilderness.
Charge And Calling Of Leadership:
In Num 27:16-23, we read the account how that God called Joshua for a leadership position and that Moses and Eleazer the priest were to lay their hands on him and ordain him for that ministry. You will see this done in the New Testament and how we do it today later in our study.
In Cleansing And Anointing:
In Lev 14:25-28, we read how that blood and oil is put on the hands of the priest for cleansing and anointing purposes of the congregation. It is also the essential application for the priest to prepare him for service.
You may ask, “What does this have to do with your subject?”
What a picture we see here of how in the New Testament that Jesus, the Apostles, and we today need to be prepared for the work of God. Blood sanctifies the hands and oil is a type of God’s anointing; more on this later.
Now we are going to look at how these doctrines are the very foundations of how and why Jesus, the Apostles and the church today “lay hands” on individuals.
THE HANDS OF JESUS
No one can deny the ministry of Jesus Christ and his healing power. Here are just a couple of accounts where Jesus laid his hands on people in prayer…
We could find a lot of scriptures on how Jesus laid his hand on people to be healed, but I will not list them here. It is also noteworthy here that Jesus did not teach anything about the doctrine of “laying on of hands.” But yet his ministry is full of examples of him doing this.
THE HANDS OF THE APOSTLES
There are several accounts of the Apostles laying hands on people to be healed. Read... (Act 4:29-30, 9:11-12, 14:3, 19:11-12)
The Apostles were given power by God to lay hands on folks and perform signs and wonders. The laying on of hands transmits the power of God through believers.
THE CALL OF LEADERSHIP
Even the early church laid hands on individuals who were called by God. Read... (Act 6:5-6, 13:2-3, 1 Tim 4:14, 2 Tim 1:6).
We can readily see, that the Apostles practiced what Moses did in the Old Testament. The laying on of hands was used to consecrate, sanction, seal and transmit the blessings and anointing of God on leadership.
Today we do the same things when our leadership lays hands on future ministers of God. They charge them to keep and contend for the faith. We invoke God’s blessing and anointing on men so they can be used by God to do his work. It is the way we consecrate them to the work of God.
In Acts 8:14-24, Peter and John laid hands on believers and then those folks got the Holy Ghost. There was also a man named Simon that wanted to buy the ability to do the same thing that Peter and John were doing. Of course he was rebuked by Peter for this wicked request.
In Act 19:5-6, we read how Paul laid his hands on twelve believers and they all got the Holy Ghost speaking in tongues.
God sometimes will use the “laying on of hands” to transmit the power of the Holy Ghost. We can see that people can receive the Holy Ghost when an anointed person lays hands on them.
But also notice the soberness of “laying on of hands.” We don’t just do it because it is a “spiritual” thing to do. We should be sure that we are anointed to do so. Simon wanted to buy the ability to lay hands on people so they can get the Holy Ghost. The danger is taking the “laying on of hands” too lightly.
BLOOD AND OIL TYPEOLOGY
As we seen in Lev 14:25-28; the blood and oil were put on the hands of the priest for the purposes of preparation, cleansing and anointing the recipients of the Old Testament. Why do I mention this here?
Spiritually speaking; blood was for cleansing. Jesus’ blood was for remission of sins, cleansing and healing. When Jesus laid hands on people they were healed. When the Apostles laid hands on believers they received the Holy Ghost and healing.
When we are cleansed by the blood and anointing of Jesus; we too are preparing ourselves for the service of God. So, I believe that we can transmit healing, the Holy Ghost, cleansing, deliverance from devils etc… It is not us that does the miracles, but it is the blood, anointing and power of Jesus Christ.
When I think of the doctrine of “the laying on of hands”, I do not readily see a lot of “direct commands” to do so. But yet as we read in the Old Testament, it is there. What amazes me about this subject is that it is considered a “doctrine of Christ” and yet it seems like an “unspoken” doctrine.
What I do see in this subject, is that, even though it may seem “unspoken in commands” in the New Testament, it is very visible in the operation of the Spirit and demonstrations of the power of God. The “unspoken doctrine” of the “laying on of hands” is very important to the work of the church.
The writer in Hebrews 6:1-3 can claim the “laying on of hands” as a doctrine of Christ because it was taught in the Old Testament and practiced by Jesus in the New Testament.
I am also a firm believer that the hands we lift up to God should be holy hands. If we try to transmit the power of God through unholy hands, then what are we transmitting?
It is therefore very important that we have authority, anointing and holiness in our hearts and minds. When we lay hands on people, we are either going to transmit truth and power or we will transfer nothing!
Without faith and demonstrations of the power of God how can the gospel be confirmed? I believe that when faith and anointing are fused together in a believer… there is no telling what can happen.
Lord use my hands for YOUR GLORY!!