Laying on of Hands
God has given us a pattern throughout the Scriptures so that we might know the principles of His Gospel, and so that we will not be laid astray. As Paul said, “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” [1 Corinthians 14:32], meaning that the Word of God will not contradict itself. “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.” [1 Corinthians 14:33]. One of those fundamental principles is the symbol of the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost, which was both practiced and taught by Jesus Christ and the Apostles.
However, this is not to say that the Holy Ghost cannot work in our lives except one receives it by the laying on of hands. For everyone is born with a portion of the Spirit as testified in Job, “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” [Job 33:4]. Peter himself testified that Jesus was the Christ in the sixteenth chapter of Matthew before Jesus had ever given the apostles a portion of the Holy Ghost in the upper room to dwell within in them as we find in John 20:22. For the Master said, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but by my Father which is in heaven.” [Matthew 16:17]. Moreover, we read in first Corinthians “that no man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” [1 Corinthians 12:3].
Notwithstanding these truths, there is a greater portion of the Holy Ghost that is received during certain ordinances of the Church. Those being the blessing of little children, the baptism of the Spirit, the ordination of priesthood, and the administration of healing. All of which include the symbol of the laying on of hands, which Paul listed as the fourth principle of the doctrine of Christ in Hebrews, chapter three. Thus, they are critically important in the Church for each one comes with a blessing of the Holy Ghost.
The ordinance of the blessing of little children demonstrates that children are incapable of committing sin until they reach the age of accountability. “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” [Matthew 18:10-11]. Hence, they do not need to be baptized as yet, but are to be blessed as taught by Jesus Christ our Lord. For He Himself was not baptized as a child, but was blessed by Simeon, the priest. Moreover, it was very important to Christ that He bless the little children as recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. There is no record or pattern of infant baptism in the Scriptures.
Jesus told Nicodemus that “except a man be born of water and of the Spirit” he can neither see the Kingdom of God, nor enter into it. [John 3:1-8]. The Lord Jesus demonstrated both parts of baptism during His life, and while John the Baptist had authority to baptize Jesus by the water [Luke 1:15, 76-80, John 1:33], he had no authority to give the Holy Ghost [Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:7, Luke 3:16]. Therefore, the Holy Ghost descended upon the Master from heaven like a dove, and it not only rested upon Him but it dwelt within Him, even a fullness. From there the pattern was given for the baptism of the Spirit through the laying on of hands by those with authority, as demonstrated in the eighth and nineteenth chapter of Acts.
The same pattern of laying on of hands is also demonstrated in the ordaining of priesthood. Again, following the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Apostles moved out with a new understanding of the Gospel. For Jesus spent forty days with them “speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” [Acts 1:3]. Luke also records how “then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures.” [Luke 24:45]. Thus they knew that “no man taketh this honor [in the context of priesthood] unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” [Hebrews 5:4]. Those men who have been called of God are then set aside through the laying on of hands as demonstrated in the sixth and thirteenth chapter of Acts, as well as the fourth chapter of first Timothy. [Read Scriptures below].
Though all have the power to pray over the sick that they might be healed, there is a special ordinance of healing which only comes through the laying on of hands by those having authority. As we read in James, “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” [James 5:14-15]. This pattern was also demonstrated by Jesus Christ is Mark, for we read, “And He could there do no mighty work, save that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them… And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.” [Mark 6:5, 13]. Of course, the true miracle is not necessarily the healing of the physical body, but the spiritual healing that comes with a forgiveness of sins.
Scriptures to Consider
Blessing of Children
Luke 2:25-33 (KJV)
2:25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. 2:26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 2:27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him after the custom of the law, 2:28 Then took he Him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 2:29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 2:30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 2:31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 2:32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. 2:33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
Matthew 18:10-11 (KJV)
18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. 18:11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
Matthew 9:12-13 (KJV)
9:12 But when Jesus heard that, He said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Matthew 19:13-15 (KJV)
19:13 Then were there brought unto Him little children, that He should put His hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. 19:14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. 19:15 And He laid His hands on them, and departed thence.
Baptism of the Holy Ghost
Acts 8:12, 14-17 (KJV)
8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women…. 8:14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 8:15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 8:16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 8:17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
Acts 19:1-6 (KJV)
19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 19:2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 19:3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.
19:4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on Him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
Acts 6:1-6 (KJV)
6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 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. 6:4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
6:5 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: 6:6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
Acts 13:2-3 (KJV)
13:2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 13:3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
1 Timothy 4:14 (KJV)
4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery [body of elders].
Administration of Healing
James 5:14-15 (KJV)
5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
Matthew 9:2 (KJV)
9:2 And, behold, they brought to Him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
Acts 9:17 (KJV)
9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
Mark 6:5, 13 (KJV)
6:5 And He could there do no mighty work, save that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them… 6:13 And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.
Luke 4:40 (KJV)
4:40 Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto Him; and He laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.