Laying of hands

The use of Laying of hands started from the Old Testament. The majority of Old-Testament mentions the priests and ceremonies.

In the Old Testament we found out that laying of hands were used for the followings:

1. Offering Sacrifice

1. In the Old Testament did the laying on of hands play a part in offering sacrifices? Exodus 29:10; Leviticus 1:4; 3:2, 8, 13; 4:15.

We also find a special use, especially in Leviticus (1:4; 3:2, 8, 13; 4:4, 15, 24, 29, 33; 16:21; also Exodus 29:10, 15, 19; Numbers 8:12), where the duly appointed priests “lay hands” on a sacrifice to ceremonially place God’s righteous curse on the animal, instead of on the sinful people.

The Aaronic priests were purified for service to God through the transfer of their sins to a bull.

When an Israelite presented a peace or a sin offering, he laid his hands upon the animal being offered, identifying himself with it and transferring his guilt to the animal. Thus, the animal was set apart by God through the laying on of hands.

2. Transfer of authority

Laying on of hands used in Old Testament for ordinations.

Numbers 8:10; 27:16-23; Deuteronomy 34:9.

In Numbers 8:10, God’s people lay their hands on the priests to officially commission them as their representatives before God, and in Numbers 27:18, God instructs Moses to lay his hands on Joshua to commission him formally as the new leader of the nation

Moses laid his hands upon Joshua, signifying the transferal of some of his authority to lead the nation. This rite of ordination was always accompanied by a special commission and the giving of special authority.

3. For Judgment

Was laying on of hands used in passing judgment? Exodus 7:4; Leviticus 24:14; Deuteronomy 13:6-10. Was it used when sparing someone from judgment? Genesis 22:12; Exodus 24:9-11.

God laid His hands on Egypt in divine judgment by sending plagues. When trying a blasphemer, each witness placed his hands upon the guilty person to signify his acceptance of the verdict.

4. Blessing

Were special blessings conferred by the laying on of hands? Genesis 48:12-20; Psalm 139:4-6; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17.

Jacob laid his hands on his grandsons’ heads to confer God’s blessing upon them. David considered God’s hand upon him as a blessing and comfort. Jesus blessed little children by laying His hands on them.


The doctrine of the laying on of hands in the new testament refers to the transference of four things through physical contact: 

1. Blessing,
2. Anointing and consecration for service, i.e. ministry,
3. The baptism of the Holy Spirit, and
4. Healing and deliverance.

Let’s briefly look at all four.

Blessing (or General Prayer)

Jacob laid his hands on his grandsons’ heads to confer God’s blessing upon them. David considered God’s hand upon him as a blessing and comfort. Jesus blessed little children by laying His hands on them.

Jesus placed his hands on children and blessed them (Mark 10:13,16& Matthew 19:13,15). To ‘bless’ someone means “to speak positive words that have a productive impact.” The official priestly prayer supports this definition (Numbers 6:22-27) and you can find these types of prayer/blessings all over the Bible, e.g. Romans 15:13 and Colossians 1:9-12.

Blessing or prayer in this manner is so important because words “have the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21). Whether people know it or not, our words bring life or death, blessing or cursing. Proverbs 12:18 reinforces this: “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Special blessings are conferred by the laying on of hands both in new testament and old testament. Genesis 48:12-20; Psalm 139:4-6; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17

Needless to say, the idea that “words can never hurt me” is a lie.

Kids and youth are especially vulnerable to “reckless words” or verbal abuse, particularly from authority figures in their lives (Colossians 3:21). Adults who continually berate, belittle and call children names are speaking a prophecy of death and destruction over them (!).

Blessing, by contrast, is a prophecy of life, which is why Jesus laid his hands on children and blessed them.

Words are powerful by themselves and adding the dimension of touch magnifies their impact.

Anointing/Separation for Ministry

Hands are to be lain on those called of God to special service. Biblical examples include the Levites (Numbers 8:10-11), Joshua, (Numbers 27:18-23), Stephen & six others (Acts 6:1-6) and Saul & Barnabas (Acts 13:2-3).

Obviously the people who qualify for such a rite of passage should already be full of faith, God’s Word and the Spirit, as was the case with Joshua and Steven in the aforementioned examples. The laying on of hands simply provides a stronger anointing to fulfill their God-given assignment.

People are set apart for special tasks? Acts 6:3-6; 13:2-3; I Timothy 5:22.

As in these examples, the laying on of hands is part of a formal ceremony by which the church commissions selected people into their new service. Paul advises that this should take place only after the entire matter is properly and prayerfully considered

Paul instructed his young Timothy, to not be “hasty in the laying on of hands” (1 Timothy 5:22) because ministers must be tested for character and faithfulness and there’s no test like the test of time. Those who hastily confirm untested ministers share responsibility for the damage they eventually do to people.

The Holy Spirit Baptism

Hands are to be laid on believers to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is evidenced by speaking in tongues (Acts 19:1-7).

In the book of Acts, baptism in the Holy Spirit sometimes resulted in speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4; 10:44-46; Acts 19:6). However, in other instances, people believed and therefore received baptism in the Holy Spirit, but nothing is said of tongues (Acts 2:41; 4:4; 5:14; 8:17; 13:12, 48; 14:1; 17:12, 34; 18:8). 

Again, the Bible makes it abundantly clear that every believer has received the baptism in the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13), but not every believer speaks in tongues
(1 Corinthians 12:27-31).

 As a result, there is no specific sign that a believer should expect when they are saved and receive baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has experienced baptism in the Holy Spirit. That is why Paul could state, “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body… we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:13). As we read in Acts chapter 2, baptism in the Holy Spirit began on the day of Pentecost. This was in fulfillment of Jesus’ words in Acts 1:5, “…but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

 The Apostles experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. It resulted in them being empowered to proclaim the Gospel and lead thousands of people to faith in Christ (Acts 2:41). 

In two instances later in Acts, the baptism in the Holy Spirit was temporarily delayed in order to demonstrate to the Apostles that Samaritans (Acts 8:14-17) and Gentiles (Acts 10:27-48) were equally a part of God’s plan of salvation. 

The Apostle Peter proclaimed, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” From that point on, every believer received the baptism in the Holy Spirit the moment they believed.

Healing and Spiritual Deliverance

Jesus said that believers “will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well” (Mark 16:17-18).

The book of Acts says “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and… he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him” (Acts 10:38). We see evidence of this throughout the Gospels. Here are some examples plus important additional info:

Jesus laid hands on sick people and healed them or exorcized demons from them (Luke 4:40-41).

A woman who was subject to bleeding for twelve years heard about Jesus’ anointing to heal and therefore had faith to receive healing from him (Mark 5:25-34). When the woman touched his cloak Jesus sensed “power had gone out from him” (verse 30).

Jesus had an anointing to heal, but his ministry was very limited in his hometown because of the people’s lack of faith due to a “spirit of familiarity”—meaning they were so familiar with Jesus during his first three decades that they couldn’t acknowledge his divine anointing and receive from it (Mark 6:1-6). This example reveals that receiving a healing is a matter of faith in regards to the person praying (i.e. the human conduit of God’s power), as well as the recipient of the healing, which shows that receiving a healing via a human conduit involves a combination of faith. Needless to say, there’s power in agreement (Matthew 18:20 & Leviticus 26:8).

People with the greatest faith do not require hands to be laid on them for healing or deliverance. This type of faith accepts the LORD at His Word, like the centurion from Matthew 8:5-10,13. In other words, they don’t require a human conduit to receive healing or deliverance from God. As noted earlier, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit can be received this way (Luke 11:13).

Important Points on Transmitting the Anointing

Here are several things to keep in mind when you lay hands on people to bless, pray, heal or deliver:

Only make physical contact when you are ready to release your faith.

While praying over someone you will sense your faith reaching its peak; that’s when you should make contact.

Children may freak out a bit when you lay hands on them because the anointing—God’s pcower—is new to them, but don’t let it derail you. Be at peace and keep ministering in faith, as led of the Holy Spirit.

God’s anointing is like electricity flowing through you and your hand is the conductor for this power like an electricity cable.

When you experience the anointing you’ll naturally get excited, which is great; just be careful not to absorb it through excessive shouting, laughing and leaping; rather channel it to those who need it. In short, don’t waste the anointing—get your hands on someone!

Since your words and hands are the primary vehicles in which the Spirit transmits the anointing to others don’t waste words or motions. Watch your words and actions and be careful not to do anything that will drain or lose the anointing, including grieving the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).

Put your words and motions in a direct line and use them to bring healing or deliverance to those in need. It’s akin to using a rifle: You aim it at the appropriate target in order to hit it. Wasting words and motions will cause you to miss the target.

If you want God’s power to operate strongly in your life, as was the case with The Christ (Acts 10:38), you must discipline yourself to spend time with the LORD. In other words, saturate yourself with God through praise, worship, the Word and prayer. You can’t run around gabbing and doing frivolous things—watching TV, playing golf or computer games, etc.—right before a ministry engagement and expect the anointing to be strong when you minister.

The anointing flows out of your inmost being like rivers of living water out of the very core of your soul/spirit (John 7:37-39). As such, you must protect the anointing so that it’ll be there when you need it.

You can’t give something if you don’t have it and therefore you can’t expect the anointing to flow out of you if you haven’t prepared yourself beforehand to operate in God’s power. You must never allow people or things to rob you of your worship/Word/prayer time, particularly before you’re scheduled to minister. Turn off your phone.

Most Christians unfortunately don’t know much about the laying on of hands. This section reveals its importance.

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