Laying on of Hands
We first see laying on of hands as Jesus healed the sick. “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” (Lu 4:40 NKJV). This ability was also promised to the apostles. "They will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mr 16:18 NKJV). Paul laid hands on some whom he healed. “And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him” (Ac 28:8 NKJV).
Paul’s appointment to the apostleship was accomplished by the laying on of hands. “And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit" (Ac 9:17 NKJV).
Imparting of the Holy Spirit allowed recipients other than the apostles to receive spiritual gifts. Observing this process tempted Simon the Sorcerer to lust for the same power. “And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money” (Ac 8:18 NKJV). The young evangelist Timothy had a gift and duty imparted through the efforts of the Apostle Paul and the eldership. “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership” (1Ti 4:14 NKJV). The recipient was expected to employ and manage the gift. Paul reminded Timothy of this responsibility. “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2Ti 1:6).
The practice of laying on of hands was elementary to the early church (He 6:1-2). Imparting of spiritual gifts accomplished the filling of vital functions. It provided saints the ability to perform the necessary work to build and to strengthen the church. “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12 NKJV). In the case of Timothy, not only was he given a gift, he was commissioned to the work of an evangelist.
The laying on of hands is no longer practiced. However, we do still offer endorsement. We send letters of commendation to recommend faithful saints to work and worship with others” (2Co 3:1). We also commend evangelists by choosing to send them financial support (Php 4:15). Conversely, there is the matter of receiving a false teacher. “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds” (2 John 1:10-11 NKJV). Endorsement is a serious matter, thus the warning to Timothy. “Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people's sins; keep yourself pure” (1Ti 5:22).
Ken Fleeman (2019-01-20)