Laying on of Hands
Some might think the ritual of laying on of hands as strange and unnecessary during this gospel age of salvation. However, hands and the hand are mentioned over 400 times in the Bible as having specific meanings and results attached to their use.
Throughout the biblical record the right, left, or both hands are used as an allegory or metaphor, and often play an integral part as a symbolic acknowledgment or confirmation of an event that has or will happen. However, the use of the hand or both hands is many times more than an allegory, metaphor, or symbolism and there are many biblical accounts showing spirit-power being projected through the hands to accomplish perceivable and tangible results in the physical realm.
So what are we to learn from the scriptures that show the uses of the hand, hands, and the laying on of hands as instruments through which authority and spirit-power are exercised?
In order to understand why the laying on of hands was in an important teaching during the early church and why it will continue to be important until Christ returns, it is necessary to review several accounts before, during, and after Christ's ministry where hands or the hand are mentioned.
Let us begin this review with what the Creator had the prophet Isaiah record about his hands and what he did with them:
Woe to those that asks of their father, What did you beget? or to the woman, What have you brought forth? 11 This says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come, my sons, and concerning the work of my hands you ask me. 12 I have made the earth, and created man on it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host I have established (Isa.45:10-12 KJV Para.).
Listen to me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.13 My hand also has laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand has spanned the heavens: when I call to them, they stand up together (Isa.48:12-13 KJV).
What the Creator said, may or may not be allegorical or metaphorical, but may in fact be a reference to the projection of spirit-power through his hands. Regardless of what he meant, there are many biblical accounts which show that before, during, and after Christ's ministry the hand, hands, and the laying on of hands were used to perform many important functions, several of which are as follows:
- Bestowing a blessing on an individual
- Bestowing a supernatural ability
- Change of an object or a person from a physical state to a holy state
- Ordination to an office, function, or responsibility
- Acknowledgement of an authorization to use spirit-power
- A point of contact through which spirit-energy flows
- A point through which spirit-power is projected
Although forbidden for the elect to do during this gospel age, anciently and today the act of placing the hand on an object or lifting the hand, when swearing an oath is a symbolic gesture that what is said or written will be performed.
When Abraham wanted to secure a wife for Isaac, he said the following to his chief servant:
Put your hand under my thigh. I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac (Gen.24:2-4 NIV).
When Abraham recovered the people and the goods that had been taken by conquest from Sodom and Gomorrah the king of Sodom said the following to him:
Give me the people, and take the goods to yourself. But Abraham told him. 'I have raised my hand to the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even a shoelace, and that I will not take any thing that is yours . . .
(Gen.14:21-23 KJV Para).
In Genesis, chapter 48, is the account of Jacob (i.e., Israel) claiming Joseph's two sons as his own, establishing them as separate tribes and heirs of the promises the Creator God made Abraham, Isaac, and himself, after which he bestowed a blessing to each of Joseph's sons, which included, but was not limited to promises the Creator had already made to the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.
What follows is extremely important to the descendants of Joseph's two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, and to the entire world, because the blessings Israel pronounced on each of these children will impact world history from that point forward to the return of Christ and beyond:
And 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, deliberately guiding his hands; for Manasseh was the firstborn (Gen.48:14 KJV Para.).
Normally, the right hand would have been placed on the eldest son to receive a greater blessing as his birthright. The placing of Israel's right hand on Joseph's youngest son is extremely important for several reasons.
- The right hand symbiotically identifies an individual ruling with a Sovereign as being second in authority and power. See Matt.20:20-23; 26:62-64 and Mk.10:39-40; 14:62.
- The youngest son will now receive the greater blessings. See Gen.25:31-34; Deut.21:15-17.
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 to 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 (Gen 48:15-16 KJV).
In verse 16 Israel transfers the birthright from his first-born son Ruben to Ephraim and Manasseh jointly with Ephraim receiving the greater blessing. See 1.Chron.5:1-2 for the reason Ruben lost his birthright.
During Israel' s lifetime people actually believed that a blessing was in fact reality and that when a blessing was bestowed it would actually happen, which is absolutely true when the Sovereign God and Christ his first-born are involved in the blessing processes. A blessing or a curse issued by a person who is authorized to do so will absolutely come to pass.
The blessings Israel bestowed on each of Joseph's sons were not idle words spoken to make conversation. These blessings were prophetic and would be enforced by the authority and power of Israel's God. From that time forward Ephraim and Manasseh and their descendants would receive these blessings. The historical record shows that these unconditional blessings have been manifested for centuries in two of the world's most powerful and prosperous national entities.
Moses and Aaron's Power
During the conversation between the Creator and Moses at the burning bush, the Creator told Moses that he had seen the affliction of the Israelites and had come to remove them from Egypt. He then told Moses he was sending him to bring the Israelites out of Egypt and that he was going to stretch out his hand, and strike Egypt after which they would release the Israelites. But Moses protested and said that no one would believe him or pay attention to him, to which the Creator said:
What's in your hand? A staff, Moses replied. 3 The Lord said, Throw it on the ground. Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the Lord said to him, Reach out your hand and take it by the tail. So Moses took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff. The Lord said, This is so they will believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you (Ex.4:2-5 NIV Para.).
So what happened here? Without Moses knowledge the Creator gave him the ability to access and use supernatural power, which could be projected through his hands to create and manipulate things in the physical realm. Then he gave Moses a demonstration of the power he had given him. However, Moses was still not convinced, so the Creator gave him another demonstration of the power he had given him, which was Moses' hand turning white and then to its normal color. The Creator then said, If they still do not believe, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.
From this point forward Moses was convinced in his ability to project spirit-power through his hands to perform whatever task God gave him. Additionally his brother Aaron was also authorized to use this power as Moses spokesman.
Although the Creator said that he would stretch out his hand over Egypt, he instructed Moses to use his hand and staff to bring the destructive plagues on Egypt, which resulted in the Israelites being set free.
Although Moses saw and experienced the plagues initiated through his hand and staff, when the Israelites were trapped between the Egyptian army and the sea, it seems Moses was still unaware that he had been given discretionary use of supernatural power through his hands; therefore, God had to instruction him in what to do to open the sea for Israel and then to close it on the Egyptians.
There are two events which indicate that at some point during Israel's time in the wilderness Moses became aware that he had been authorized discretionary use of supernatural power.
Amalek and Israel
When Amalek came to fight with Israel at Rephidim, Moses told Joshua to choose men to fight them and that he would stand on a hill holding the rod of God in his hand. When Moses held his hands up, the Israelites prevailed and when he lowered his hands because of fatigue, Amalek prevailed. Therefore, Aaron and Hur brought a large rock for Moses to sit on and then each of them held up one of Moses hands until Amalek was defeated. See Ex.17:8-14.
So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 while Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword (Ex.17:10-13 NIV Para.).
Although the raising and lowering of Moses' hands was visually symbolic, it was much more than symbolism. This act demonstrates that supernatural power can be accessed and projected through the hands of a man authorized to use this power to effect a tangible outcome in the physical realm. See also 2.Kgs.13:14-20.
Because Moses and Aaron behaved improperly at Kadesh Meribath, where the Creator told Moses to speak to the rock and bring forth water, but had instead struck the rock with his staff, the Creator told Moses and Aaron they would not be allowed to enter the promised land. See Num.20:7-12.
When the time was near for the Israelites to enter the promised land, the Creator told Moses that he would die (Deut.31:14-15). So Moses asked him to appoint someone to replace him as Israel's leader:
And the Lord said to Moses, You take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay your hand on him; And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. 20 And you shall put honor on him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient (Num.27:18-20 KJV Para.).
The English word honor is translated from the Hebrew word howd (hode); which is derived from an unused root; meaning grandeur (i.e. an imposing form and appearance), which helps us to understand the importance of Moses' unique physical appearance.
What was Moses to convey to Joshua through the laying on of his hands? Was it just a symbolic ritual which was to show that the leadership of Israel had been transferred to Joshua? Or was the leadership and something more being conveyed through the hands of Moses? Moses' return from mount Sinai gives us the answer:
And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, that when he came down from the mount, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shined while he talked with the Creator. 30 And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, lo, the skin of his face shined; and they were afraid to go near him. 31 And Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned to him: and Moses talked with them. 32 And afterward all the children of Israel came near: and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him in mount Sinai. 33 And until Moses had finished speaking with them, he kept a veil on his face. 34 But when Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out. And he came out, and spoke to the children of Israel that which he was commanded. 35 And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shined: and Moses put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him (Ex.34:29-35 KJV Para.).
Here, the English word shined is translated from the Hebrew word qaran (kaw-ran'); which in the context of this account figuratively means, rays.
After Moses' forty days and nights with the Creator on Mount Sinai, his face no longer looked like an ordinary man, his face now radiated and sparkled with some of the spirit essence of the Creator's glory.
And he (i.e., Joshua) shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the Lord: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation. And Moses did as the Lord commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation: And he laid his hands on him, and gave him a charge, as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses (Num.27:21-23 KJV Para.).
When Moses laid his hands on Joshua as the Creator instructed, he transferred some of his glory to Joshua, from that time on Joshua could be identified as the leader of Israel; because, his face now radiated and sparkled like Moses' face. See also 2.Cor.3:6-13.
Not only was Joshua's appearance changed through the laying on of Moses hands, he was also endowed with some of the same supernatural power Moses had, of which the Creator gave him assurance of twice; once after Moses death and once as Israel was about to cross the Jordan River:
No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with you: I will not fail you, nor forsake you (Josh.1:5 NKJV).
And the Lord said to Joshua, This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you (Josh.3:7 NKJV).
Joshua knew he could wield supernatural power, because he did at the Jordan River, now at the city of Ai the Creator would show him that he could also project this power through his hand as did Moses when Amalek attacked Israel at Rephidim.
Then the Lord said to Joshua, "Stretch out the spear that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand." And Joshua stretched out the spear that was in his hand toward the city. 19 So those in ambush arose quickly out of their place; they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand, and they entered the city and took it, and hurried to set the city on fire (Josh.8:18-19 NKJV).
For Joshua did not draw back his hand, with which he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai (Josh.8:26 NKJV).
As with Moses, the supernatural power projected through Joshua's hand caused a perceivable and tangible result in the physical realm.
We are not told what Moses or Joshua said or thought before they held out their hands to project spirit-power to the Israelite army and to weaken their enemy. What we do know, is that spirit-power is directed by the one possessing it; therefore, both Moses and Joshua must have given a well thought out command either mentally or orally before projecting spirit-power to the problem.
The laying on of hands was also performed to invoke and carry out the death sentence on individuals guilty of blasphemy and other capital crimes:
And the Israelitish woman's son blasphemed the name of the Lord, and cursed. And they brought him to Moses: (and his mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:) And they put him in ward, that the mind of the Lord might be shown them. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Bring forth him that has cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him (Lev.24:11-14 KJV).
At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death. The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall put the evil away from among you (Deut.17:6-7 KJV).
Although the elect cannot physically execute individuals within the Father's earthly family of believers for violations of his law, all the elect and the ministry must follow the instruction given by Christ recorded in Matthew chapter 28 and in Paul's instructive examples regarding the disposition of the unrepentant elect noted in 1.Cor.5:1-4; 1.Tim.1:18-20; Tit.3:10-11. When these instructions are diligently followed, the law of Lev.24: 11-14 and Deut.17: 6-7 are in essence carried out, because the unrepentant violator is in God's hands to execute.
The Holy Nation
After leaving Egypt, the Israelites were camped at Mount Sinai where the Creator met with Moses, gave him many instructions and told him many things, one of which was that the Israelites were to be holy as he is holy and become his kingdom of priests, and holy nation on earth:
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them, You shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy (Lev.19:1-2 KJV).
The word holy sounds very spiritual and for most people it is an undefinable concept. However, according to the biblical record, being holy is not an undefinable concept.
The English word holy in verse 2 is translated from the Hebrew word qadosh (kaw-doshe'); which in this context means sacred.
The reality and the practice of being holy can be understood if one is willing to search the scriptures. Otherwise, the instruction "You shall be holy" would not have been given to the Israelites or to the Sovereign God's elect. See 1.Pet.1:13-16.
In order for the Israelites to be holy (i.e., to be of a sacred realm of existence on earth), the Creator gave them detailed laws and instructions containing rituals, which they must practice. When practiced correctly, the result is a holy state of existence. One important ritual through which a holy state is established is the laying on of hands.
The ritual of laying on of hands was not only symbolic of setting something apart for holy use, but was also used to initiate a holy state or transfer a holy state from one person or thing to another.
The laws and rituals given to ancient Israel to practice, not only clearly explained how to become mentally and physically holy, but also how to maintain a holy state of existence.
The command to be holy as God is holy is always given in the context of a list of God's laws or in an instruction urging compliance with these laws.
God has set the rules and standards by which all that is holy is measured. Any deviation from these rules and standards is in opposition to the nature of God who is a holy spirit-being. Therefore, anyone or anything, which interacts on a close intimate level with God must exist in a holy state.
The Sacrificial System
The Creator required the priesthood, all sacrificial animals, and all items associated with the tabernacle to be holy (i.e., free of physical impurity).
The sacrificial system of worship given to Israel provided the means through which people and things were transformed from the physical state of existence to the sacred state of existence, thus allowing a close interaction between the Creator and people.
The death of Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu was the result of their disregard for the Creator's instructions to be holy and to keep all physical contamination out of his presence. By placing impure fire in their censers, they defiled themselves as well as their censers, which made them unholy and unfit to minister before God. See Lev.10:1-3.
One of the functions of the priesthood was to perform animal sacrifice which required the animal to be made holy before it or its blood could enter the tabernacle and be used for its intended purpose.
There are many examples in the biblical record of the priesthood laying their hands on a sacrificial animal in order to make it holy, so it could be used for its intended purpose at the tabernacle.
God is a spirit-being whose very nature requires that all things that come into close contact with him be of the same quality of existence. The death of Nadab and Abihu is an example of what happens to a person when there is a violation of the strict laws, which dictate the interaction between the physical and spirit realms of existence.
Any violation of these laws makes a person incompatible with the nature and presence of God who is a spirit-being. Therefore, any person or anything not in harmony with these laws or does not exhibit the same nature and presence cannot interact with God in his spirit-presence without being destroyed, unless God himself shields the person or thing from the power of his spirit-presence.
Throughout the Book of Leviticus, we see hands being laid on the heads of sacrificial animals for the purpose of symbolically setting them apart for a sacred purpose and conferring a condition of holiness to them so they can be used to atone for sin or be presented to God as a peace offering.
During the rituals on the Day of Atonement, Israel's high priest symbolically placed all the sins of national Israel on the head of a live goat which was sent away from the Israelite's camp carrying these sins (Lev.16:20-22). This ritual resulted in the removal of these sins which defiled the Israelites and their encampment. Moreover, the removal of these sins made it possible for the Creator's presence to dwell in the tabernacle for another year. For a detailed analysis of the Day of Atonement rituals get a free copy of the Book the Commanded Observances and Holy Convocations Past, Present, and Future, Volume 11 at www.bibleresearch.org.
In Leviticus chapter 4, is one of many examples of a sacrificial animal having hands laid on its head in order to make it holy (i.e., of the sacred realm of existence) so it could be used for its intended purpose.
Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, saying: If a person sins unintentionally against any of the commandments of the Lord in anything which ought not to be done, and does any of them, if the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, then let him offer to the Lord for his sin which he has sinned a young bull without blemish as a sin offering. He shall bring the bull to the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the Lord, l lay his hand on the bull's head, and kill the bull before the Lord (Lev.4:1-4 NKJV).
From what is recorded in the biblical record before the advent of Christ, it is clear that the laying on of the hands was more than ritual, it was an important means through which those whom God authorized would validate their authority by causing an effect in the physical realm.
The foregoing accounts document the use of the hands as instruments through which spirit-power is directed and/or manifested to produce tangible and perceivable results in the physical realm.
During Christ's Ministry
During Christ's ministry he healed hundreds, perhaps thousands of people of various disabilities and illnesses, some individuals asked him to heal them, some were healed when other people asked him for their healing, and some without their asking when Christ saw their condition and had compassion on them.
These accounts not only give insight into how Christ approached healing individuals, but also provide examples to those who have the power to heal people as they proclaim the Sovereign Father's good news message.
Christ would sometimes lay his hands on individuals as a part of the process of healing various afflictions (Mk.6:1-6; Lk.4:40). He also laid his hands on little children as he blessed them (Matt.19:13-15; Mk.10:13-16). However, there are many accounts where he healed people without touching them with his hands.
Although Jesus did on occasion lay his hands on individuals or touch them in the process of healing them, he did not find it necessary to do this in every case. Sometimes, he just commanded a healing to occur or said it had been done according to a person's faith in his ability to heal them, such as with the centurion's servant (Matt.8:5-13) and blind Bartimaeus (Mk.10:46-52). See also Mk.3:1-15; Lk.5:18-25; Jn.5:1-15.
In the examples of Christ healing people, no specific pattern, ritual, or method is established. Instead, what we see is, Christ using the method which fit the circumstance.
No account is found during Christ's ministry showing his disciples laying hands on people to effect a healing. But, it is likely they did, because he did. The disciples also anointed individuals with oil and healed them as they went about proclaiming the Kingdom of God which seems to indicate they touched them. See Mk.6:13.
Early in his ministry, Christ went to the area where he grew up and taught in the synagogue and healed a few people as he put his hands on them:
Then he went out from there and came to his own country, and his disciples followed him. And when the Sabbath had come, he began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing him were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to him, that such mighty works are performed by his hands! Verse 6: Now he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them (Mk.6:1-2; 6 NKJV).
Here, the English phrase mighty works(s) is translated from the Greek word dunamis (doo'-nam-is), which is derived from a word meaning force (literally or figuratively); specially, miraculous power (usually by implication, a miracle itself):
The context shows these supernatural healings were facilitated by Christ putting his hands on people and removing whatever ailment they had.
In the example of Christ healing a leper and Peter's mother-in-law, he just touched each of them and they were healed:
When he came down from the mountain, many people followed him. 2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped him, saying, Lord , if you are willing, You can make me clean. 3 Then Jesus put out his hand and touched him, and said, I am willing; be clean. Immediately his leprosy was cleansed (Matt.8:1-3 NKJV Para.). See also Mk.1:39-42.
And when Jesus came into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother lay sick with a fever. 15 And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and served them (Matt.8:14-15 KJV Para.). See also Matt.9:27-31.
A Spirit of Infirmity
In the following account we see Christ healing a woman who was the victim of a demonic induced affliction which caused her to be permanently bent over.
And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. 12 And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said to her, Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity. 13 And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God (Lk.13:10-11 KJV).
One day some very young children (perhaps infants) were brought to Christ for him to touch, which he did. We are not told what he said while holding these children, but there are many things little children need such as food, clothing, health, protection, and more.
And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was very displeased, and said to them, Allow the little children to come to me, and do not forbid them: for of such is the kingdom of God. Truly I say to you, Whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall not enter therein. 16 And he embraced them in his arms, put his hands on them, and blessed them (Mk.10:13-16 KJV Para.). See also Matt.19:13-15.
These blessings were not idle words, whatever Christ said would happen, just as with Jacob's blessing of Ephraim, Manasseh, and their descendants.
The Flow of Spirit-Energy
There is an account of a woman following Christ in a crowd who believed that if she touched Christ's clothing she would be healed of persistent internal bleeding. When she touched his clothes, she was instantly healed. Here we have a healing based on this woman's faith in the power that resided in Christ.
What happened next tells us something important about how spirit-energy flows from one person to another, which also helps us to understand how energy is transferred and wielded through the hands of those authorized to use spirit-power:
And Jesus, immediately knew that virtue had gone out of him, and turned in the crowd, and said, Who touched my clothes? (Mk.5:30 KJV Para.).
The English word virtue in verse 30 is translated from the Greek word dunamis (doo'-nam-is); which is derived from a word meaning force (literally or figuratively) specially, miraculous power (usually by implication, a miracle itself).
And his disciples said to him, You see all these people crowding you, and you ask, Who touched me? And he looked all around to see the one who did it. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him the truth. And he said to her, Daughter, your faith has made you whole; go in peace, and be well from your plague (Mk.5:31-34 KJV Para.).
We know Christ had unlimited spirit-power and we know that this woman tapped into this power through her faith. So how did Christ know that spirit-power had flowed through him? He knew because he immediately felt it flow from him and he also had perfect discernment of people's thoughts and motivations.
All the examples of Christ healing individuals show that the healing was instantaneous or happened very quickly after a command was given to heal, or occurred after the person followed instructions to perform a certain act. But the fact that he laid hands on some people, or touched others are examples to follow as the situation dictates.
Commission to Believers
Shortly after Christ was resurrected he appeared to his disciples as they were eating a meal. During his conversation with them, he gave them what is commonly called the great commission as recorded by Matthew and Mark:
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshiped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. You go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of this age (Matt.28:16-20 KJV Para.).
The English phrase, to observe in verse 20, is translated from the Greek word tereo derived from the Greek word teros, which means a watch. Tereo means to guard (from loss or injury; properly, by keeping the eye upon). The use of the word tereo in verse 20 seems to indicate a guarded maintenance of the things Jesus told his disciples to teach, which includes what he said about laying hands on the sick as recorded by Mark:
You go into all the world, and preach the good news to everyone. Those who believe and are baptized will be saved. But those who refuse to believe will be condemned. And these signs shall follow those who believe; In my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with languages new to them; They shall cast away serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover (Mk.16:15-18 KJV Para.).
Jesus said that supernatural abilities will be evident among believers. Believers will have the authority and power to cast out evil spirits, speak languages which they did not previously know how to speak, have protection against poisonous snakes and liquids, and heal every type of physical or spiritual disability, illness, and mental disorder though laying their hands on individuals.
Although Jesus promised these supernatural abilities in the context of proclaiming the gospel message and accepting those who believe into the Father's earthly family, he did not restrict who could be healed through the laying on of hands, otherwise when Paul was on the island of Melita he would not have put his hands on Publius' father to heal him. See Acts 28:8-9.
After his resurrection, Christ also told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for power they were to be given:
Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father on you: but you wait in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high (Lk.24:46-49 KJV Para.).
The English word power is translated from the Hebrew word dunamis (doo'-nam-is); specially, miraculous power (usually by implication, a miracle itself).
Here, we see Christ preparing his disciples for the moment when the Father will place his holy spirit within them and they will become the dwelling place of his presence. This is the event Jesus spoke of when he told the woman of Samaria that the hour is coming when the Father's place of worship would be changed. See Jn.4:21.
But why would he tell them to wait for power, when early in his ministry he authorized them and seventy others power to heal people and power and authority over demons? See Matt:10:1; Mk.3:14-15; Lk.9:1-2.
As Jesus traveled toward Jerusalem, he sent people ahead to a Samaritan village to make preparations for his coming. However, the villagers did not want him to pass through their village because they understood that he was on his way to Jerusalem:
And when James and John heard this they said, Lord, would you have us command fire out of heaven, and consume these people, even as Elijah did? (Lk.9:54 Para.). See 2.Kgs.1:9-14.
It seems that besides the power to heal and remove evil spirits, these two men believed they had the power to destroy the villagers with fire, but were unsure if Jesus wanted it done, which he did not. So, what was this power from on high that they were to receive.
The Feast of Pentecost
As the disciples and others were meeting on the festival of Pentecost, the power which they were to wait for came:
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them (Acts 2:1-3 KJV).
This is the same kind of fire that was present when Moses met God at the burning bush. Additionally, it is this kind of fire that descended on Mount Sinai, on the tabernacle, and on the temple Solomon built in order to show that God had placed his name and presence there.
Just as the fire descended on the tabernacle and the temple that Solomon built, this fire descended on the people of the New Covenant. On this Festival of Pentecost, the Father placed his name and presence in a new Temple where he would meet with his earthly children.
Is the power Christ promised to send from his heavenly Father different from the power that God's prophets wielded, and that he and his disciples used to work miracles during his lifetime?
The answer is, No. But, there is a tremendous difference where this power resides today and how much of this power can be accessed by individuals with the indwelling of the holy spirit now and in the future.
When one receives the holy spirit the Father initially bestows three supernatural attributes, which are power, godly love, and a sound mind (i.e., self control). See 2.Tim.1:7. This power is the same spirit-power Christ had during his ministry. The only difference is the degree to which the Father authorizes an individual discretionary use of this power for the specific work he has given them to do.
The Doctrine of Laying on Hands
After the writer to the Hebrews acknowledges the validity of Christ as the high priest of the Sovereign Father's earthly children and reprimands these Hebrews for their lack of skill in the use of foundational knowledge about righteousness, he makes the following statement:
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits (Heb.6:1-3 KJV).
The English phrase of the doctrine in verse 2, is translated from the Greek word didache, which means instruction.
The writer to the Hebrews mentions several foundational teachings they already knew and understood, which include the instruction of laying on hands, and urges them not to dwell on these, but to move forward in perfecting their spiritual knowledge and understanding.
The inclusion of the doctrine of laying on hands tells us that this practice was firmly established as a foundational teaching in the early church. Therefore, its symbolism and its practical application should be clearly understood and practiced by the elect today.
The following are several accounts which show the act of laying hands on a person as performed in the early church being symbolic acknowledgment that a person is being placed in a position of responsibility and service, is the means through which the power of the holy spirit flows, and is extremely important in order to perform a dynamic and powerful work for the Father during this gospel age of salvation.
Receiving the Holy Spirit
Receiving the holy spirit is the most important event that can ever happen to anyone; because, it is at this point in time that a person is transformed into one of God the Father's earthly children and their body literally becomes his temple where his holy spirit resides. See 1.Cor.3;16-17; 6:19-20; 2.Cor.6:16-18.
After having one's sins forgiven, and one's body purified in the baptismal water, the next ritual in the conversion process is the laying on of hands in order to receive the indwelling of the holy spirit.
Some might feel that the laying on of hands is not absolutely necessary, because the scriptures document several people receiving the holy spirit without this ritual (See Matt.3:13-16; Acts 2:1-3; 9:10-18). However, while this is true, there is no indication in the scriptures that the Father will make these exceptions again.
The nation of Israel was made holy through decree and ritual. But those of the Father's new creation are made holy through the sacrificial blood of Christ, the ritual of baptism, and the laying on of hands to receive the holy spirit.
On Pentecost, the apostle Peter revealed that Jesus whom the Jews had crucified was indeed the Messiah and that there was now a way to have one's sins forgiven and be saved from a death from which there is no return:
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the holy spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call." With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation (Acts 2:37-40 NIV).
A person becomes holy through the Sovereign Father's redemptive process. This process begins with the Father's call to salvation, and is completed when the person is raised out of the baptismal water and receives the indwelling of the Father's holy spirit through the hands of a man who is already holy. At this point in time the old person with only the spirit of man has ceased to exist, and a new person is born with God the Father's genetic imprint. See Jn.3:1-7; 2.Cor.5:17; Rom.6:1-18 and the study paper about the sons of the new creation, available at www.bibleresearch.org.
Although still dwelling within the physical human form, a person with the indwelling of the holy spirit is a new creature:
So that if anyone is in Christ, that one is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new! (2.Cor.5:17 KJV). See also Gal.6:15.
After baptism, and during the ritual of laying on of hands the following things simultaneously happen to the baptized person:
- The Father merges his holy spirit with the person's human spirit.
- The person is transformed into a new and different creation having the spirit of man and the spirit of God.
- The person is adopted into the Father's family as one of his earthly children with the potential to become immortal.
- The presence of the Father's holy spirit (i.e., his spirit power), his personal spirit, and Christ's personal spirit have now become an integral part of the new member of the Father's earthly family.
- The person's physical body is transformed into one of the Father's earthly temples in which his holy spirit resides.
Why is it important to have the ritual of laying on hands performed by a man who already has the holy spirit? It is important because without this ritual being completed none of the aforementioned things will happen.
When a person receives the holy spirit, they are literally transformed from the original human creation into a new and different being. The old person with only the spirit of man ceases to exist, and a new person having the spirit of God dwelling within them is born. See Matt.3:1-7; 2.Cor.5:17.
Although the Father's earthly children appear to be human, they are not. These individuals are holy and of the sacred realm, which makes them different from all other humans, they are beings that never existed before in either the physical or spiritual dimensions and have only existed since Christ came and died for the sins of humanity. Although not yet immortal, at some time in the future they will shed their bodies of flesh and become an immortal spirit-being. See 1.Cor.15:51-54; 1.Thess.4;13-17; Rev.20:6.
Ananias and Saul
Although some think it unnecessary to lay hands on a person for them to receive the holy spirit, Christ thought it necessary; because, he sent Ananias to lay hands on Paul for his healing and for him to receive the holy spirit:
And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, Ananias. And he said, see, I am here, Lord. 11 And the Lord said to him, Arise, and go to the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus: for, see, he prays, 12 And has seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and lays his hand on him, so he will receive his sight (Acts 9:10-12 KJV Para.).
And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and put his hands on him and said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared to you in the way as you came, has sent me, so you will receive your sight, and be filled with the holy spirit. 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight, and arose, and was baptized. (Acts 9:17-18 KJV Para.)
From the following two examples at Samaria and Ephesus it is evident that the apostles also thought it necessary to lay hands on a person for them to receive the holy spirit:
The Converts at Samaria
After hearing Philip proclaiming salvation through Christ, many in Samaria were baptized but were not yet the Fathers' earthly children because they had not received the holy spirit,
Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them : Who, when they came, prayed for them, that they would receive the holy spirit: (For as yet it fell on none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then they laid their hands on them, and they received the holy spirit (Acts 8:14-17 KJV Para.). See also Acts 9:10-18; 19:1-6.
These people were baptized correctly yet they had not received God's spirit. They had repented and been baptized yet they had not been transformed into sons of God. However, when the apostles laid their hands on them, they received the holy spirit.
When Simon the sorcerer saw that it was through the hands of the apostles that people received the holy spirit, he offered to purchase this ability:
Give me this ability, so that I may do the same thing by laying my hands on people. But Peter said to him, Your money perish with you into perdition, because you think that God's gift can be purchased with money. You have no part or lot in this matter, because your heart is not right in the sight of God (Acts 8:19-21KJV Para.).
The Converts at Ephesus
At Ephesus, we again find people sincere in their desire to practice a righteous life and had followed the admonition of John the Baptist to repent and be baptized. Although they had the right attitude, they lacked the knowledge of how to obtain salvation through the sacrifice of Christ.
And it came to pass while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, he said to them, Have you received the holy spirit since you believed? And they said to him, We have not so much as heard whether there is a holy spirit. And he said to them, to what then were you baptized? And they said, to John's baptism. Then Paul said, John truly baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Jesus Christ.
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy spirit came on them (Acts 19:1-6 Para.). See also Acts 9:10-18; 2.Tim.1:6-7.
After Paul explained salvation through Christ, these people were then baptized through the authority of Christ and received the holy spirit though the laying on of Paul's hands.
Proclaiming the Gospel
What we see in the context of the early church, is that the authorization to heal people of various sickness and disabilities through laying on of hands is to be performed by men who in one way or another are involved in proclaiming the gospel message and that a man with this authorization is free to decide whether or not to lay on hands on a person when healing them.
Paul at Melita
After being shipwrecked, the apostle Paul and others were stranded on the island of Melita. On this island was an official named Publius who allowed them to stay with him for three days:
And it came to pass, that Publius' father lay sick with a fever and dysentery Paul went to him, prayed, placed his hands on him and healed him. When this happened, others that were sick came and were cured (Acts 28:8-9 KJV).
As an act of compassion, Paul heals Publius' father through the laying on of his hands. This account shows that Paul understood he was authorized to use this ritual to heal unconverted people as he carried out his responsibility to proclaim the gospel message. See Mk.16:18.
Not all people who were healed by the apostles had hands laid on them. Paul healed a man who had been a cripple from birth by just telling him to get up and walk. See Acts14:8-10.
Peter Heals a Lame Man
In the following account, we see Peter using his delegated power and authority over this world's physical laws to heal a man who had been lame from birth:
Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; . . . Verses 4-6: Peter, fastening his eyes on him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed to them, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold I have none; but such as I have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise and walk (Acts 3:1-2, 4-6 KJV). See also Acts 3:16.
Before performing this act of mercy, Peter said, "Such as I have I give you", which makes it very clear that Peter had the power to heal at his discretion. When Peter said, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise and walk,'' he was not only announcing by whose authority he was removing this man's paralysis and making him whole, he was also commanding the act of healing to be performed through the authority and power he had been delegated through the office of Jesus Christ.
After issuing this command in the name of Jesus, Peter confidently reached down, took the man's hand, and begin to lift him to his feet. Instantly the man was healed of his paralysis and had enough strength to stand, walk, and leap up and down. See Acts 3:7-8.
The scriptures clearly show that when healing people, those doing the healing, did so through their discretionary use of their authority.
Twice Paul reminds Timothy of some spiritual attributes or abilities, which were given to him through the laying on of hands. We are not told what these were or their purpose; however, these were something Timothy either needed in his personal life or in his ministry, otherwise they would not have been given:
Let no one despise your youth; but you be an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in godly love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the elders. 15 Meditate on these things; give yourself wholly to them; that your progress may appear to all. 16 Take heed to yourself, and the doctrines; continue in them: for in doing this you shall both save yourself, and them that hear you (1.Tim.4:12-16 KJV Para.).
When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in you also. For which cause I remind you to fan the flame of the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give a spirit of fearfulness to us, but of power, and love, and of a sound mind [i.e., self control] (2.Tim.1:5-7 Para.).
Although the Father is the one who bestows abilities, attributes, and authorizations of power to individuals in his earthly family, it is through Christ's sacrifice that these individuals are made worthy to receive them. See 1.Cor.12:4-11; Eph.4:1-12.
From what Paul wrote to Timothy, it seems that the apostles and elders of the early church had authority to bestow certain spiritual attributes and abilities other than the ones the Father and Christ reserve under their authority.
To Serve Widows
As the early church at Jerusalem grew, it became apparent that there was a need for someone to care for the physical needs of its widows. As a result of this need, the apostles instructed the elect to choose some men to perform this task:
Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the holy spirit 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 their words pleased all the people. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the holy spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, 6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them (Acts 6:3-6 NKJV Para.).
Serving the elect in any ongoing capacity requires dedication, consistency, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, compassion, mercy, hospitality, and other godly characteristics. Perhaps the prayer before hands were laid on these men included a request to protect them, bless their efforts, and give or enhance some of the aforementioned attributes.
It is important to note that, hands laid on these men by the apostles does not indicate an ordination to an office, but an acknowledgment and assignment of the service these men were to perform for widows.
While Barnabas and Paul were serving with the prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch, they were instructed to begin their evangelistic work:
Now there were in the church at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Paul. 2 As they served the Lord, and fasted, the holy spirit said, Separate me Barnabas and Paul for the work to which I have called them. 3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away (Acts 13:1-3 KJV Para.).
No details are given about why these men were fasting at this time and none given as to why they fasted after they were told to appoint Barnabas and Paul to the work they were called to do. We can only assume this additional fasting and praying had to do with Barnabas and Paul's task. Perhaps the laying of hands was not only to acknowledge their separation to the task they were to perform, but also to transmit to them certain spiritual attributes, abilities, and or powers, which they would need while performing their task. As was done when Moses laid his hands on Joshua.
Healing the Elect
In his letter to the elect scattered in the twelves tribes among the nations, the apostle James set forth a healing ritual for the elect to follow where elders were present to administer the ritual:
Is any sick among you? call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord (Jms.5:14 KJV Para.).
James' instruction for the healing of the elect within a congregation with an active eldership does not clearly specify that the elders are to lay hands on the person who requests healing and is anointed with oil, so is laying on hands necessary while performing this healing ritual?
In order to answer this question, it is important to remember that Jesus promised believers would have the ability to lay hands on the sick in order to effect healing (Mk.16:18). Additionally, the use of the Greek word epi, which can be translated as over or upon in the phrase "let them pray over them", indicates that the prayer can be performed while laying hands on the individual.
Knowing that practice of laying on hands was the method through which the power of the holy spirit was exercised before Christ, during his ministry, and during the early church indicates that the laying on of hands during the performance of James' instructions is a necessary part of the ritual and should be practiced today.
Although the laying on of hands during the healing ritual mandated by the apostle James is symbolic of the healing to follow, this act is much more than symbolism. The person on whom the elder's hands are laid is being brought before the Father for special consideration. The healing power of the holy spirit is to flow to the person being healed. Moreover, laying on hands demonstrates faith in the promise Christ made to those of his Father's earthly family. See Mk.16:17-18.
For a detailed explanation of the healing ritual set forth by the apostle James get a free copy of the book Survive and Thrive as a Follower of Christ at www.bibleresearch.org.
Paul's Special Miracles
Included in Paul's authorizations of spiritual powers, was his ability to heal individuals and remove evil spirits where no elder is present to administer the healing ritual set forth by the apostle James.
And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought to the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them (Acts 19:11-12 KJV).
The English word by in verse 11, is translated from the Greek word dia (dee-ah'); a primary preposition denoting the channel of an act; through (in very wide applications, local, causal, or occasional), which in the context of verse 11 means through.
Everything recorded in the scriptures has meaning. These miracles through Paul's handling of these cloths tell us that when used as instructed, supernatural power was unleashed to perform what Paul had already determined should be accomplished.
It seems that these clothes were not only symbolic of the miracle to follow, but were the point of contact which initiated the flow of spirit-power. It seems that there was no need to mention Paul's hands in this process unless they were the instruments through which the cloths were set apart for holy use.
Ananias and Sapphira
Shortly after the beginning of the early church, Ananias and Sapphira, a married couple, dedicated to God all the money they had received from a land sale. Because this money was dedicated to God, it was considered holy and belonged to God. But, Ananias and Sapphira violated the law of holiness by first stealing a part of what they had dedicated, then lying about the price of the land, which caused both to immediately die when Peter confronted them with their sin. See Acts 5:1-10.
The scriptures that immediately follow this account seem to be connected to the death of Ananias and Sapphira, which also seems to indicate that what happened to them was a result of the discretionary use of the apostles spirit-power which they could wield through their hands:
And great fear came on all the church, and on as many as heard these things. And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch (Acts 5:11-12 KJV Para.).
The English word by in verse 12, is translated from the Greek word dia (dee-ah'); which in the context of verse 12 means through.
Signs and Wonders
In Acts chapter 14, we see Paul and Barnabas at Iconium proclaiming the Fathers good news message while performing supernatural signs and wonders to validate their authority from the Father and Christ:
And it came to pass at Iconium, that they went together into the synagogue of the Jews, and spoke so persuasively that a large number of people both Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. 3 Therefore, they stayed there a long time, speaking confidently of the Lord, who witnessed about the word of his grace, by allowing signs and wonders to be done through their hands (Acts 14:1-3 KJV Para.).
Some might assume that the reference to hands in these three accounts in Acts do not mean that the apostles actually used their hands to perform supernatural acts. However, there are many biblical accounts, which show the hand or both hands as instruments through which supernatural power was exercised to accomplish perceivable and tangible results in the physical realm.
Before Christ Returns
The disciples and other people were always amazed at the spirit-power Christ was able to wield as he went about proclaiming his Father's good news message of salvation and his coming kingdom.
During a conversation with his disciples about his return to his heavenly Father's spirit realm, he made the following promise to them and those who would believe in him in the future:
Truly, truly, I say to you, He that believes in me, the works that I do he shall also do; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to my Father (Jn.14:12 KJV Para.).
Believing in Christ entails more than just an acknowledgment that he lived. Many people acknowledge this, even evil spirits believe he and his Father exist (Jms.2:19). However, few people believe to the point that they are willing to follow Christ's teachings. In order to be able to do greater works than Christ, a person must truly believe what he taught and be authorized to use the same spirit-power from the Father that he used.
As powerful as the apostolic era of the church was, these elect did not do a greater work than Christ. They did perform many miracles, signs, and wonders as a powerful witness. However, the historical record clearly shows that they did not do a greater work than Christ.
Before the end of human rule on earth, the Father will authorize and empower the elect to perform the greater work Christ predicted, which was also recorded by Habakkuk and directed to the Israelites scattered throughout the world:
Behold you [the various tribes of Israel] among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days, you will not believe, though it were told (Hab.1:5 KJV). See also verses 1-4.
The apostle Paul issued the following prophetic warning to those of his day and the future in regard to what Habakkuk recorded:
Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, you despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which you shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it to you (Acts 13:40-41 KJV). See also Isa.29:9-14.
The great prophetic work to happen before Christ returns will be performed by some of the Father's elect who will be able to wield unimaginable spirit-power. Nothing will be able to stop them from completing their task to proclaim the Father's message and warn a sinful and rebellious world that Christ is about to return to rule the earth.
It is not beyond the realm of possibility that before Christ returns the elect will again visually demonstrate and exercise the Sovereign God's spirit-power through their hands to perform miracles, signs, and wonders and to lay hands on hundreds and perhaps thousands of the unconverted to heal and cast out demons, which will be a powerful witness to people.
The biblical record documents the Creator God giving supernatural abilities and power to individuals. This record also documents that the ritual of laying on hands was performed in order to produce perceivable and tangible results in the physical realm, such as noted in the following list:
- Bestowing a blessing or a supernatural ability
- Change of an object or person from the physical state to a holy state
- Ordination to an office, function, or responsibility
- Acknowledgement of an authorization to use spirit-power
- A point of contact through which spirit-energy flows
In addition to putting hands on people for many of the same reasons as they were before the advent of Christ, the early church also practiced the laying on of hands for the following reasons:
- To present an individual before the Father to receive the holy spirit.
- To present one of the elect before the Father for healing as set forth by the apostle James.
- To heal individuals as an act of compassion.
- To bestow blessings on little children.
During this gospel age, God the Father gives abilities and authorizations of power to his elect, some of which may be exercised through the hands in order to perform certain functions, responsibilities, and tasks to benefit their brothers and sisters in the faith, and/or to perform the work of the church in proclaiming the Father's good news message. For an overview of the gifts of the spirit get a free copy of the Book Gifts of the Spirit at www.bibleresearch.org.
The apostle Paul wrote the following to Timothy about the things recorded in the scriptures for us, which we should understand in order to grow in spiritual maturity and do the work we have been called to do:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the people of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works (2.Tim.3:16-17 KJV Para.).
According to the writer to the Hebrews, the early church clearly understood the teaching of laying on of hands:
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits (Heb.6:1-3 KJV.)
So what are we to learn from the scriptures that show the hand, hands, and the laying on of hands as instruments through which authority and spirit-power are exercised?
First: Supernatural abilities, attributes, and power given to Moses, Joshua, Jesus, the disciples, apostles, and others in the biblical record were not given for their personal aggrandizement or entertainment. These were given in order to further the Sovereign God's plan for his human creation.
Second: The early church clearly understood that spirit-power could be exercised through the hand and hands to heal people and to perform miracles, signs, and wonders just as Christ did.
Third: In order to do a dynamic and powerful work for the Father which will get people's attention and make a lasting impression, supernatural abilities, attributes, and power must be used.
Fourth: In order for one to effectively use their supernatural abilities, attributes, and authorizations of power, one must have and maintain a high level of spiritual maturity.
The question is not whether or not the Father gives gifts of the spirit to his elect, because he does. The question is when will we reach the level of spiritual understanding and maturity required by our heavenly Father before he will bestow the powerful supernatural abilities, attributes, and authorizations which his elect must have in order to bring this current age of salvation to a close and begin the next phase of his plan for the salvation of humanity.
By B. L. Cocherell