31. Is the laying on of hands a biblical practice?



Yes, it is.

Moses laid his hands on Joshua son of Nun to appoint him over the Israel community, as it is written: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation. And Moses did as the LORD commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation: And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses” (Numbers 27:18-23). The Scripture says that “Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses” (Deuteronomy 34:9 – NKJV).

Jesus Christ laid His hands on the sick to heal them, as it is written: “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” (Luke 4:40 – NKJV). On that occasion, therefore, Jesus laid His hands on the sick to heal them; however, not always did Jesus lay His hands on the sick, for sometimes He healed the sick without laying His hands on them (for instance, the centurion’s servant, and that man who had an infirmity thirty-eight years were healed without the laying on of His hands). Jesus laid His hands also on that woman who was bent over and could in no way raise herself up, as it is written: “And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God” (Luke 13:13 – NKJV), and on the blind man in Bethsaida, on whose eyes He put His hands twice (Mark 8:22-25). As for the laying of hands on the sick, before Jesus was taken up into heaven, He said to His disciples that those who believe on Him “will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:18 – NKJV).

The twelve apostles laid their hands on the seven men chosen by the multitude of the disciples to serve tables, as it is written: “And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them” (Acts 6:5-6).

Hands were laid on Paul and Barnabas in Antioch of Syria, after the Holy Spirit commanded to separate to Him Barnabas and Saul for the work to which He had called them (Acts 13:3).

Peter and John laid their hands on the believers in Samaria that they might receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-17).

Ananias, a disciple of the Lord who lived in Damascus and feared God, laid his hands on Saul that he might receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:10-18).

Paul laid his hands on people that they might be healed and filled with the Holy Spirit. While he was on the island called Malta, it came to pass that he went to the father of Publius, who lay sick of a fever and dysentery, and prayed and “he laid his hands on him and healed him” (Acts 28:8 – NKJV). After Paul met in Ephesus some disciples (about twelve), who had not even heard that there was a Holy Spirit, he laid his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke with tongues and prophesied (Acts 19:6). Timothy also received the Holy Spirit through the laying on of Paul’s hands (2 Timothy 1:6).

Paul commanded Timothy not to lay hands on anyone hastily (1 Timothy 5:22).

A gift was given to Timothy by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the eldership (1 Timothy 4:14).

Therefore, in the early Church the laying on of hands was practiced in order to appoint someone to fulfil a ministry or to accomplish a certain work, in order to heal the sick, and that believers might receive the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is lawful to lay one’s hands on believers for these reasons.