SPECIAL TOPIC: LAYING ON OF HANDS IN THE BIBLE
This gesture of personal involvement is used in several different ways in the Bible.
1. oath taking (i.e., hand under thigh [cf. Gen. 24:2,9; 47:29])
2. passing on the family leadership (cf. Gen. 48:14,17,18)
3. identifying with the death of a sacrificial animal as a substitute
a. priests (cf. Exod. 29:10,15,19; Lev. 16:21; Num. 8:12)
b. laypersons (cf. Lev. 1:4; 3:2,8; 4:4,15,24; 2 Chr. 29:23)
4. setting persons aside to serve God in a special task or ministry (cf. Num. 8:10; 27:18,23; Deut. 34:9; Acts 6:6; 13:3; 1 Tim. 4:14; 5:22; 2 Tim. 1:6)
5. participating in the judicial stoning of a sinner (cf. Lev. 24:14)
6. the hand on one's mouth denotes silence or acquiescence (cf. Jdgs. 18:19; Job 21:5; 29:9; 40:4; Micah 7:16)
7. the hand on one's own head means sorrow/grief (2 Sam. 13:19)
8. receiving a blessing for health, happiness, and godliness (cf. Matt. 19:13,15; Mark 10:16)
9. relating to physical healing (cf. Matt. 8:3; 9:18,20; Mark 5:23; 6:5; 7:32; 8:23; 16:18; Luke 4:40; 13:13; Acts 9:17; 28:8)
10.receiving the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 8:17-19; 9:17; 19:6, note Deut. 34:9)
There is a surprising lack of uniformity in the passages that have been historically used to support the ecclesiastical installation of leaders (i.e., ordination, see Special Topic: Ordination).
1. In Acts 6:6 it is the Apostles who lay hands on the seven for local ministry.
2. In Acts 13:3 it is the prophets and teachers who lay hands on Barnabas and Paul for missionary service.
3. In 1 Tim. 4:14 it is the local elders who were involved in Timothy's initial call and installation.
4. In 2 Tim. 1:6 it is Paul who lays hands on Timothy.
This diversity and ambiguity illustrate the lack of organization in the first century church. The early church was much more dynamic and regularly used the spiritual gifts of believers (cf. 1 Corinthians 12; 14). The NT is simply not written to advocate or delineate a governmental model (see the variety in Acts 15) or ordinational procedure. Church organizational traditions are necessary but not biblical. The godliness of the leadership is far more important the form of the leadership (i.e., polity).
Copyright © 2014 Bible Lessons International