This subject is mentioned often in the Scriptures. The laying on of hands is a symbolic act when God is called upon, in faith, to bless and sanctify or to impart authority and power. It is done for four different and individual purposes: blessings, baptism, ordination, and healing.
Genesis 48:13-20 records that Ephraim and Manasseh received a unique and great blessing when Israel (Jacob) applied upon them the laying on of hands. The blessing of little children is also preformed by the laying on of hands, as instructed by Christ (Mark 10:15-16; Matt. 19:13-15; Luke 18:15-17).
In the baptism ceremony, the repentant person receives the gift of the Holy Spirit by having hands laid on him. This is first recorded in Acts 8:17-18: “Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy [Spirit]…through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy [Spirit] was given.” Also see Acts 19:5-6: “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy [Spirit] came on them.” The apostle Paul was also instrumental in Timothy receiving God’s Holy Spirit (II Tim. 1:6).
Ordination into an office in God’s Church is also done through the laying on of hands. The first example is found in Acts 6:6-8, involving the ordination of deacons: “…and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them…And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.” God’s Church today faithfully observes this practice in all ordinations. Hebrews 6:2 lists it as one of God’s doctrines.
God’s healing is also the result of an elder’s prayer with faith, accompanied by the laying on of hands on the head of the afflicted person. We find this example in Acts 9:17: “…and Ananias…entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus…has sent me, that you might receive your sight.”
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