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.”
In the Old Testament
The laying on of hands in OT times signified the transference of blessing and office. It was used for the act of blessing (Gen. 48:13, 14), in the consecration of the priests (Num. 8:10), and in the dedication to leadership (Num. 27:18, 23). The significance of the act was therefore known to the faithful Jew.
In the New Testament
In the NT, 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 (Mark 6:5; Luke 4:40; 13:13; Mark 16:18). Similarly, He blessed the children (Matt. 19:15). And the apostles had good precedent for blessing and dedicating the seven by the laying on of hands.
It appears from Heb. 6:2 that the practice crystallized into an accepted procedure in church polity. Particularly significant was the apostles’ laying on of hands following baptism, an act by which believers received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17, 18; 19:6). This was also practiced for ordination (Acts 6:6; 1 Tim. 4:14) and for healing (James 5:13, 14).
In the Old and New Testament as well as today this practice was 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.
In His service,