The Elementary Teachings about Christ
Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment (Hebrews 6:1-2).
The Laying on of Hands
The Word of God has referred to hands in various ways. Some references to hands signify man’s labor “toil of our hands” Genesis 5:29 and others signify an aspect of righteousness “I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands" Genesis 20:5.
The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands (Genesis 9:2).
Then Sarai said to Abram, "You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May Yahweh judge between you and me." "Your servant is in your hands," Abram said. "Do with her whatever you think best" (Genesis 16:5-6)
Yet other reference to “hands” in Scripture is used to signify the transfer of something. As we see in the above references there is a transfer of authority. In the first example God is transferring authority to Noah and the second Abram is transferring authority to Sarai.
The following passages are provided for insight into the doctrine regarding “the laying on of hands.” As you examine each passage answer the question, What is being transferred?
If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord's commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, they are guilty. When they become aware of the sin they committed, the assembly must bring a young bull as a sin offering and present it before the Tent of Meeting. The elders of the community are to lay their hands on the bull's head before Yahweh , and the bull shall be slaughtered before Yahweh . Then the anointed priest is to take some of the bull's blood into the Tent of Meeting. He shall dip his finger into the blood and sprinkle it before Yahweh seven times in front of the curtain. He is to put some of the blood on the horns of the altar that is before Yahweh in the Tent of Meeting. The rest of the blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. He shall remove all the fat from it and burn it on the altar, and do with this bull just as he did with the bull for the sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for them, and they will be forgiven (Leviticus 4:13-20).
He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites--all their sins--and put them on the goat's head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert (Leviticus 16:21-22).
Bring the Levites to the front of the Tent of Meeting and assemble the whole Israelite community. You are to bring the Levites before Yahweh , and the Israelites are to lay their hands on them. Aaron is to present the Levites before Yahweh as a wave offering from the Israelites, so that they may be ready to do the work of Yahweh (Numbers 8:9-11).
Moses did as Yahweh commanded him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly. Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, as Yahweh instructed through Moses (Numbers 27:22-23).
The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over. Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what Yahweh had commanded Moses (Deuteronomy 34:8-9).
Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them (Matthew 19:13).
Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, "My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live" (Mark 5:22-23).
He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well" (Mark 16:15-18)
So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word." This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them (Acts 6:2-6).
Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17).
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord--Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here--has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, (Acts 9:17-18)
On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied (Acts 19:5-6).
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress (1 Timothy 4:13-15).
Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning. I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure (1 Timothy 5:19-22).
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, (2 Timothy 2:6-8)
The significance of “the laying on of hands” seems quite clear from Scripture. It is important for us to understand and apply this doctrine to our work in the Body of Christ.
Richard H Perry