Purposes for the Laying on of Hands

Did you know that the “laying on of hands” is considered one of the foundational doctrines of the church?

Consider Hebrews 6:1-2: “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.”

The writer of Hebrews exhorts the church to go beyond elementary principles and foundational teachings and move onto deeper truths. Among the foundational teachings mentioned is the “laying on of hands.”

Laying on of hands refers to placing your hands upon someone in a spiritual act. What is the purpose of this activity?

Purposes for the Laying on of Hands

There are several reasons for the laying on of hands outlined in Scripture. Though not an exhaustive list, below are some of the primary purposes.

1. Release of Healing

One of the primary ways that Jesus healed the sick was to lay His hands on them. The power of the Holy Spirit moved into their bodies as He touched them, and they were healed. Luke 4:40 describes the laying on of hands in the healing ministry of Jesus: “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.”

Laying on of hands is one of the ordained ways to heal the sick. Mark 16:18 says that believers “will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

2. Commission into Service

Laying on of hands is used to commission people into ministry and other callings. Acts 13 records Paul and Barnabas being released into their apostolic ministry. Verse 3 says, “Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.” Up until this point, Paul and Barnabas were functioning as Teachers in the church at Antioch. But after this event they were referred to as apostles (see Acts 14:4 and Acts 14:14).

Laying on of hands is a sign of commissioning and sending. It is a way of setting people into positions of ministry in the church.

3. Impart the Power of the Holy Spirit

Laying on of hands is a means of bringing people into the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is also a way that gifts of the Holy Spirit are imparted. Acts 8:17 says, “Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” The apostles laid hands on the new believers in Samaria and they were baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Here is another description, this time in the ministry of Paul: “And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:6). Paul also apparently imparted a spiritual gift to Timothy through the laying on of hands: “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6).

The laying on of hands should not be seen as a mere ritual. It is a means of blessing, empowerment, healing, and commissioning. Real spiritual transactions occur through this act, and therefore it should not be taken lightly. If we understand the laying on of hands—one of the foundational teachings in the church—we can benefit from its purposes!

Questions: How have you been blessed by the laying on of hands? Can you think of other purposes for the laying on of hands?


3 Responses to “Purposes for the Laying on of Hands”

  1. As a child I remember being in church and watching the pastor and elders of the church laying hands on parishioners for healing, for comfort in times of loss and watching deacons and others be ordained through the laying on of hands. I remember when people were sick the pastor would bring his anointing oil and administer a prayer of healing through the laying on of hands to that ill person Then one day it stopped happening. I never understood why the pastor would just stand at the pulpit and ask people to pray for an ill person but that person no longer got the laying on of hands. I’m not saying that people no longer got the healing they needed but I can say that I saw a lot more healing when hands were laid upon that person than when it stopped and people just prayed. There is spiritual power in the laying on of hands that just prayer doesn’t seem to do.

    • Michelle,

      Thanks for sharing your insights and the example from your church experience. You are right, there is something powerful about the laying on of hands. It is more than a mere ritual, but a means of releasing the power of Holy Spirit and ministering healing.


  2. 1.I am having question, concerning of sickness. if the sick person can just healed when the people just singing the praising songs and dancing instead of pray for them and lay hands upon them?
    2.can a person healed by laying the hand without faith of healing? I am not against laying hands,I just need more information for this.
    3.some people use to say if you lay your hand to someone who is possessed by the demon and you are not strong in the faith the demon will enter in you, is it true?
    there are certain people who do not believe in laying hand, are they misunderstood the Bible or is normal life of Christian?

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