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Hebrews 6:1-3

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The Laying on of Hands

Before you read: This article is part of a larger series that builds on itself from the foundation up, with each study building on the last. If something in this article does not make sense to you or if you believe it to be incorrect please be sure you have read over the entire course before passing your final judgment. Also be sure to visit this page’s FAQ And Objections Page

Some of the more mysterious parts of the Bible include the laying on of hands, blessings, and curses. While these things are so easily seen in the scriptures, they are often not understood. For example, what reason does the Bible give for the laying on of hands? Is there some kind of secret power to it?

We will cover the topics of blessing and cursing a little later in this course, but for now let’s focus on the actual, physical laying on of hands. Some of the questions we will answer are:

1). Why is it done?

2). What does it do that could not be done otherwise?

Why Does the Bible Say to Lay Hands on Someone

Reasons for the laying on of hands

If you speak with most pastors they will be able to give you a list of the times when a Christian should lay their hands on someone. It’s not really that hard to find in the scriptures.

Mark 16:18

They 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.

The laying on of hands is for the recovery of the sick.

Numbers 27:18-20

18 And the Lord said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; 19 And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. 20 And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient.

Acts 6:3-6

3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

The laying on of hands is for the purpose of giving public approval of certain people to take on leadership roles.

Genesis 48:9 and 14-20

9 And Joseph said unto his father, They are my sons, whom God hath given me in this place. And he said, Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them.

And

14 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. 15 And 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, 16 The 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. 17 And 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. 18 And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. 19 And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. 20 And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh.

The laying on of hands is for the purpose of giving a blessing.

One other set of scriptures that I have purposefully left out of this list is that of Acts 8, where it says that Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles hands the Holy Ghost was given. I did this because a greater focus must be placed on it so as to not cause confusion as to what is really happening in those verses. But, we will be addressing it specifically in the next unit.

answer the question

Now, these other verses that I quoted all tell us why, or when, this should be done, … but not fully. We can see that it is for these times, but why is the laying on of hands the method being used in these events? Is there a certain power that comes from the hands that is not available otherwise?

The answer to that is both yes, and no.

The Power of the Laying on of Hands

Matthew 8:5-8

5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.

It was very typical of Jesus to physically lay His hands on the sick to cause them to recover. But, we see here that it was not necessary to actually accomplish the goal of healing.

2 Kings 5:10-13

10 And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean. 11 But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?

Naaman thought that the power to heal was going to be in the hands of Elisha. In fact, he says, “and strike his hand over the place.” But again, we find that the laying on of the hand is not where the power is at, and it is unnecessary to accomplish the goal.

So what is it’s purpose? To understand this we will need to look back at some of the very first mentions of the laying on of hands.

Genesis 24:8-9

8 And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again. 9 And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.

This is the first really clear mention of the laying on of someone’s hands. I’m sure it seems a little strange, but the implications that we can draw from this are massive!

If you can, place yourself in the shoes of Abraham’s servant for a moment. This man had once been the heir to all that Abraham had. Abraham was far too old to have kids, so this man was certain to gain everything. But, God gave Abraham a child. This ruined that for him.

Yet, we find this man grateful that God granted Abraham a son. In fact, Abraham has no problem asking him to find a wife for his son! Oh boy, if they have kids then he REALLY isn’t getting anything!

Now ask yourself this question: How close are you willing to get to someone? How about someone that you may have some kind of resentment towards? Would you get close enough to speak to them? You probably would, but would you be close enough to reach under their thigh and give an oath of loyalty?

This is where the laying on of hands get’s it’s power. It’s one thing to tell a friend you are going to do something for them, but it’s another to place your hand on their shoulder, look them in the eye, and give an oath.

touch barrier

If you have ever studied social interaction for even a moment then you may have noticed something termed, the touch barrier. It’s often heard of in the forming of new relationships. A man may be head over heals in love with a woman, but until he does that “pretend yawn” to put his arm around her then he hasn’t broken the touch barrier.

There is a much deeper level of intimacy when it comes to touch. No, it doesn’t have to be sexual. But, we all have our own “personal space” that we don’t like others invading. So when we let someone place their hand on us it is a sign of trust and friendship. Likewise, when we want to demonstrate that another person means a lot to us we tend to have a strange desire to touch them in some way.

I know that I, personally, have felt the need to reach out and touch certain people on their shoulders and just rest my hand there for a moment as if to say, “I’m with you.”

This is why laying your hands on someone is powerful. It’s because it signals a bond between the two of you, and it shows how serious what you have to say is.

Let’s look back at one of those examples again.

Genesis 48:14-20

14 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. 15 And 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, 16 The 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. 17 And 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. 18 And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. 19 And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. 20 And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh.

loving grandpa

Can you see this old grandpa lay his hands on the heads of his two grandsons? Maybe he pinched their cheeks? This was not a ritualistic event. This was an old man lovingly caressing the faces of his grandchildren.

Can you see Joseph wondering why Israel’s strong arm (the right arm is the typical symbol of strength) was placed on the head of the younger child? He tells his father, “No, the first born should be the strongest, since he is going to be the head of the family.”

But then Israel whispers in his old grandpa voice, “Shhh, I know son, … I know.” The imagery is amazing to me! The laying on of someone’s hand isn’t about their power, ability, or anything else. The laying on of hands is all about love, and it’s seriousness.

Picture the lepers that no man would ever touch, … suddenly having the loving hands of Jesus on their skin. The bond, the seriousness, the loyalty, and the commitment of Jesus towards them was a sudden jolt to their system. It screams, “I CARE!”

Look back at the times in the Bible that the laying on of hands is supposed to be used.

Touching the sick tells them you are with them in what they are facing. It tells them that you are sincere in your prayers for their health. This in turn will generate a higher level of faith in them to receive that healing.

Touching the new leaders tells them and everyone who see’s it that you not only approve of them, but you support them as well. They are now respected as if they were you, simply because of their association with you. Imagine someone that you admire placing their hand on you and saying, “I know you can do this!”

Coincidently, that is why the Bible says the following:

1 Timothy 5:22

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

It’s because when you lay your hands on someone it means you have a bond with them. Be careful who you associate with!

Touching someone while you look intently into their eyes and give them a word of prophecy or blessing is showing them that you mean business.

This is the purpose of laying hands on someone. It has no power in itself, but what it communicates, love, is where you will find the power to have faith.

Galatians 5:6

For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

So the only thing that the laying on of hands does is communicate to the other person that you are with them, love them, mean what you say, and are going to stick by them. So why can’t this be done without touch? Well, it can, … but for many people touch is a faith booster so to speak.

In the next unit we are going to be talking about chapter 8 of Acts.

Continue To Unit 5:2 – Is the Holy Spirit given by Laying on of Hands OR

Return To Christianity 101 Unit 5 – The Laying on of Hands

December 4, 2016 at 4:14 pm | | No comment

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