The laying on of hands is a ceremony performed by the
ministry on special occasions such as for the receiving of God's Holy
Spirit after baptism, at ordination and for other special purposes. It
symbolizes one's submission to God and to the Church which is God's
instrument on earth. Such a ceremony is the occasion of God conferring a
spiritual gift, blessing or service to the person.
Hebrews 6:2 calls the laying-on-of-hands ceremony one
of the fundamental doctrines of the Church. It is an old and important
religious ceremony with both the Old and New Testaments being replete
with examples of its use.
The "laying-on-of-hands" is the act of one person in
religious authority putting his hands upon the head of one on whom a
blessing, a special religious office or some other spiritual gift is
conferred. It is usually accompanied by a prayer that delineates the
nature of the spiritual blessing and asks God to grant it to the
The significance of this act is to show that the
individual person is being set apart for a spiritually related reason.
It shows that he is being acknowledged as qualified for a particular
task or being given a blessing out of the ordinary. As such the laying
on of hands is often a public ceremony in front of members of the
The act of laying on of hands itself has special
symbolic meaning. It shows that God works through fallible human beings
in administrating church government. When a minister lays his hands upon
a person to confer the spiritual blessing or gift, he does so as an
agent or representative of God fulfilling a position of spiritual
authority within the Church. Likewise, one who submits to this ceremony
during ordination, after baptism, during anointing for healing or under
any other special circumstances is acknowledging the authority God has
placed in the Church and ministry and shows submission to this
authority. The minister, of course, is not an agent of God on his own,
but only through the Church. He does not administer his own authority
but only that of the Church as empowered by God. The minister does not
confer anything of his own by the laying on of hands, but only
symbolizes what God confers.
The earliest examples of the use of the ceremony are
to be found in the Old Testament. Jacob laid his hands upon the heads of
Ephraim and Manasseh to pass along this birthright and the promises God
made to his grandfather, Abraham. When God chose a physical priesthood,
they were set apart for their holy duty by the laying on of hands. Only
a tribe specially consecrated by this special ceremony could officiate
in God's temple (Num. 8:9-11, 14-15). Likewise, Joshua also had hands
laid upon him to show God had set him apart to become the new ruler of
Israel (Num. 27:18-19).
The New Testament shows through command and example
various times when the laying on of hands should be used by the Church.
It is most often used by the ministry for the conferring of the Holy
Spirit upon a person after baptism in accordance with Acts 8:15-17 and
other scriptures. At this time the minister places his hands upon the
head of the newly baptized individual and prays to God, asking Him to
give the new convert His Holy Spirit. Thus, through this ceremony, a
person is set apart as a chosen, begotten son of God.
James 5:14, Mark 16:18 and other scriptures show that
God's ministers should lay hands upon and anoint with oil those who come
to them to request God's divine healing for their sicknesses. Again the
act symbolizes that God will set aside the person for special
consideration or attention and illustrates God's government through His
Church and ministry.
Another application of the laying on of hands
ceremony is during the ordination of elders, deacons and deaconesses.
All these offices are positions of authority and responsibility within
the Church. Ordination by the laying on of hands is God's way of setting
apart and conferring upon a human instrument God's Church government
(This implies that the individual has learned how to serve faithfully
under this authority himself -Acts 6:6; 13:3.)
The Church also uses this ceremony as a tradition of
the Church in the blessing of little children in accordance with the
example set by Jesus in Matthew 19:13-15. God's ministers on special
occasions place their hands upon, and ask God's blessing for, small
children who have never before under gone this blessing ceremony. It
symbolizes the child's sanctification by God for special physical
protection and spiritual blessings.
During the marriage ceremony, the officiating
minister of the Church of God places his hands upon the joined hands of
a couple while they kneel with him in prayer. The symbolism of this act
is that the couple call on God to enter this marriage and set them apart
as special to Him as well as to each other. They are also making a
covenant with God to follow His laws.
The laying on of hands is a simple but deeply
symbolic ceremony which has special application in special circumstances
as explained above. It is of critical importance to Christianity,
because it shows that God works and deals with mankind through other
human beings whom He chooses and sets apart for His purpose, though they
are fallible and imperfect.
READ THESE SCRIPTURES FROM YOUR OWN BIBLE:
Hebrews 6:2 - Laying on of hands is
a fundamental doctrine of the church.
Numbers 8 - Tribe of Levi
consecrated by laying on of hands to serve in the temple.
Numbers 27:18-19 - Hands laid on
Joshua, setting him aside to rule Israel.
Acts 8:15-17 - Used in baptism to
confer the Holy Spirit.
James 5:14; Mark 16:18 - Laying on
hands for the sick.
Matthew 19:13-15 - The blessing of
the little children using the laying on of hands.
1) The laying on of hands ceremony is performed by
2) The laying on of hands ceremony is used ...
a) for the receiving of the Holy Spirit at baptism.
b) for ordination
c) to convey a spiritual gift
d) to convey a blessing
e) to convey service
f) to symbolize one's submission to God
g) all of the above
3) Laying on of hands was never used in the Old Testament. True or
4) Which verse establishes laying on of hands as a fundamental doctrine
of the church?
a) Matthew 6:2
b) Hebrews 6:2
c) Genesis 6:2
d) Leviticus 6:2
5) The laying on of hands ceremony is usually accompanied by a prayer
that delineates the nature of the spiritual blessing. True or
6) The ceremony shows that a person is being acknowledged as qualified
for a particular task or blessing. True or False?
7) For the most part, this is a private ceremony performed behind closed
doors. True or False?
8) This ceremony is used by God in administering church government.
True or False?
9) When a minister lays his hands upon a person, he does so...
a) as an agent or representative of God
b) fulfilling a position of spiritual authority in the church
10) One who submits to this ceremony during ordination, after baptism,
during anointing for healing or any other special circumstances is
acknowledging the authority God has placed in the church and ministry
and shows submission to this authority. True or False?
11) Continuing from question 10, this authority one submits to in this
a) the minister's authority
b) the church's authority
c) God's authority
d) all of the above
12) In the laying on of hands ceremony the minister...
a) is an agent on his own authority
b) administers his own authority
c) confers spiritual gifts within himself to the one receiving the
laying on of hands
d) only symbolizes what God confers
13) What is true about a minister who performs
a) he is to be obeyed without question
b) he is without sin
c) he is fallible and imperfect
d) he is a servant of the congregation and of God
14) After baptism, through the laying on of
hands, a person is set apart as a begotten son of God. True or
15) When a member of the church is ordained to elder, deacon or
deaconess, he or she...
a) is put into a position of authority and responsibility
b) is now a human instrument of God's government
c) has learned how to serve
d) is faithful to God's authority
e) all of the above
16) The laying on of hands is used for what situations?
a) in anointing the sick
b) in the blessing of little children
c) in ordination
d) in the marriage ceremony
e) in baptism
f) to convey blessings and spiritual gifts
g) all of the above
17) The laying of hands is a simple but deeply symbolic ceremony
a) has special application in special circumstances (as listed in
b) is of critical importance to Christianity
c) shows that God works and deals with mankind
d) that God uses humans in His work and plan though they are fallible
e) all the above