The `laying on of hands` in the Bible was an act to impart something from one to another.In my part of the world to `lay hands on someone` meant giving them a `hiding`,beating them up and doing harm.Thankfully in the Bible it has a different use. Here are some examples outlining the purpose for the`laying on of hands`.
1.To place the sins of the people on to the sacrifice offering.Aaron laid both hands on the head of the live goat,confessing over it all the sins of the people,putting them on the head of the goat.LEV.16:21,22.The burnt offering would be accepted as an atonement for the people.LEV.1:1-5.This foreshadowed Jesus who came and God laid on Him our sin-He became the sacrifice for the sins of the world taking the punishment we deserved.ISA.53:4-6 ; HEB.9;10.
2.To confer a blessing.Jacob laid his hands on the sons of Joseph and blessed them.The firstborn who usually received the greater blessing was blessed with the right hand. GEN.48:14. Aaron lifted his hand towards the people and blessed them.LEV.9:22. Jesus laid His right hand on John blessing him with encouragement and strength. REV.1:17 ; ISA.41:10 .Jesus led His disciples out as far as Bethlehem lifted up His hand and blessed them. LUKE24:50. Jesus laid hands on little children,prayed and blessed them. MATT.19:13-15 ; MARK10:13-16.
3.For the healing of the sick. Jesus laid hands on everyone of them and healed them.LK.4;40 ; 13;13. These signs will follow those who believe….they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover.MARK16:17,18. Through the hands of the Apostle smany signs and wonders were done among the people Saul received his sight when Ananias laid hands on him. ACTS9:17Publius father was healed after Paul prayed and laid hands on him. acts28:8,9. If anyone is sick they are to call on the elders of the church.They will anoint with oil in the name of the Lord and pray.The prayer of faith will save the sick. JAMES5:14-16.
4.To impart the Holy Spirit. The Apostles laid hands on the believers in Samaria and they received the Holy Spirit. ACTS8:14-24 Ananias laying hands on Saul told Him the Lord had sent him so that Saul would receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. ACTS9:10-17 Paul laid hands on the believers at Ephesus and the Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke with tongues and prophecied. ACTS19:6.
5.To impart gifts. Timothy had received a gift from God by prophecy with the laying on of hands by the elders. 1TIM.6:14 ; 2TIM.1:6. Paul longed to go to Rome to impart some spiritual gift to the church to strengthen them. ROM.1:11 CF. 1COR.12:6. In the Old Testament Joshua was full of the Spirit of wisdom for Moses laid hands on him. DEUT.34:9.
6.To set apart for a particular ministry. The Levites were set apart as an offering to perform the work of the Lord. NUM.8:9-2, Moses laid hands on Joshua setting him over the congregation,giving him authority and commissioning him as a shepherd of the people. NUM.27:15-23. Seven men were chosen,set apart and prayed for with hands laid on them for the specific ministry of ensuring the widows were not neglected in the daily distribution.They were given authority and responsibility,recognised as the men for this business. ACTS6:1-6. Paul and Barnabas were sent out from Antioch after the prophets and teachers fasted,prayed and laid hands on them.This was initiated by the Holy Spirit who spoke and they identified with the Spirits Word commissioning the two men for ministry. ACTS13:1-3.
THE LAYING ON OF HANDS IS OFTEN ACCOMPANIED WITH PRAYER OR PROPHECY.
Paul prayed and laid hands on the sick. Acts28:8,9 ; cf. James 5:14-16
Ananias laying hands on him said`Saul the Lord Jesus…` Acts 9:17.
In Antioch the prophets and teachers having heard the Spirit speak prayed and sent the two men out. Acts13:2,3.
Timothy had received the gift of prophecy with the laying on of hands. 1Tim. 5:22.
SOME GUIDELINES ARE GIVEN FOR `THE LAYING ON OF HANDS`
LAY HANDS ON NO MAN SUDDENLY. 1Tim. 5:22. Hands should not be laid on anyone hastily particularly with reference to the setting apart of leaders (Elders) and discipline within the church. 1Tim. 5:17-22 cf. Deut.17:1-17. The laying on of hands comes in response to hearing what the Spirit is saying and the clear Word of God. cf.Acts13:1-3.
DO ALL THINGS TO THE GLORY OF GOD. 1Peter 4:11 Col.3:17 1COR.10:31.
When you lay hands on anyone it is not for the purpose of you receiving praise or material gain but so that the result is that God is glorified.There must be right motives. Simon when he saw that through the laying on of the Apostles hands the Holy Spirit was given he offered them money…..Peter said to him….`you have no part or portion in this matter,for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Acts 8:14-25.