Hands; Hands, Imposition, Laying on of

im-po-zish'-un (epithesis cheiron, Ac 8:18; 1Ti 4:14; 2Ti 1:6; Heb 6:2): The act or ceremony of the imposition of hands appears in the Old Testament in various connections: in the act of blessing (Ge 48:14 ff); in the ritual of sacrifice (hands of the offerer laid on head of victim, Ex 29:10,15,19; Le 1:4; 3:2,8,13; 4:4,24,29; 8:14; 16:21); in witness-bearing in capital offenses (Le 24:14). The tribe of Levi was set apart by solemn imposition of hands (Nu 8:10); Moses appointed Joshua to be his successor by a similar act (Nu 27:18,23; De 34:9). The idea in these cases varies with the purpose of the act. The primary idea seems to be that of conveyance or transference (compare Le 16:21), but, conjoined with this, in certain instances, are the ideas of identification and of devotion to God.

In the New Testament Jesus laid hands on the little children (Mt 19:13,15 parallel Mr 10:16) and on the sick (Mt 9:18; Mr 6:5, etc.), and the apostles laid hands on those whom they baptized that they might receive the Holy Spirit (Ac 8:17,19; 19:6), and in healing (Ac 12:17). Specially the imposition of hands was used in the setting apart of persons to a particular office or work in the church. This is noticed as taking place in the appointment of the Seven (Ac 6:6), in the sending out of Barnabas and Saul (Ac 13:3), at the ordination of Timothy (1Ti 4:14; 2Ti 1:6), but though not directly mentioned, it seems likely that it accompanied all acts of ordination of presbyters and deacons (compare 1Ti 5:22; Heb 6:2). The presbyters could hardly convey what they had not themselves received (1Ti 1:14). Here again the fundamental idea is communication. The act of laying on of hands was accompanied by prayer (Ac 6:6; 8:15; 13:3), and the blessing sought was imparted by God Himself. No ground is afforded by this symbolical action for a sacrament of "Orders."


James Orr

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