Is laying on of hands applicable today?


By BibleAsk Team

The Laying on of Hands

The laying on of hands is the fourth of the fundamental doctrines mentioned by Paul in Hebrews 6:1, 2. “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.”

The Old Testament

The laying on of hands in Old Testament times signified the transference of blessing and office. It was used for the act of blessing. “And Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near him. Then 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, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn” (Genesis 48:13, 14).

And it was used in the consecration of the priests. “So you shall bring the Levites before the Lord, and the children of Israel shall lay their hands on the Levites” (Numbers 8:10).

Also, it was used in the dedication to leadership. “And the Lord said to Moses: “Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him,” “And he laid his hands on him and inaugurated him, just as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses (Numbers 27:18, 23). The significance of the act was therefore known to the faithful Jew.

The New Testament

In the New Testament, the same custom was followed. To the Christian, there was added import in that the Master often healed the sick by laying His hands on them. “When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them” (Luke 4:40; 13:13 also Mark 6:5; Mark 16:18). Similarly, Christ blessed the children by laying on of hands (Matthew 19:15).

And the apostles had good precedent for blessing and dedicating the seven by the laying on of hands. It appears from Hebrews 6:2 that the practice crystallized into an accepted procedure in church policy. Particularly significant was the apostles’ laying on of hands following baptism, an act by which believers received the Holy Spirit. “Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17; 19:6).

Laying on of hands was also practiced for ordination. “Whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them” (Acts 6:6 also 1 Timothy 4:14).

And laying hands was applied for healing as well: “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? 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” (James 5:13, 14).


Thus, in both the Old and New Testaments as well as today, this practice was and is still a means of connecting the message with the messenger, or the spiritual gift with the gifted giver. Laying on of hands is only blessed by God when it is done in agreement with God’s Word (Isaiah 8:20).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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