Principle - Laying on of Hands
Principles of the Doctrine of Christ (Hebrews 6:1-2)
i) Repentance from dead works, ii) Faith toward God, iii) The doctrine of baptisms,
iv) The laying on of hands, v) The resurrection of the dead vi) And eternal judgment
In recent articles we are looking at principles of the doctrine of Christ. We will now look at the Laying on of Hands. There are many instances in scripture of the laying on of hands. In the Aaronic priesthood of the old testament, the priest would lay his hands on the sacrifice (Lev 16:21). There is symbolism in this and Christ bearing our sins. The apostles laid hands on people when they healed them (Acts 28:8). Laying hands on was also a phrase used in a negative sense. Sometimes in scripture hands were laid on someone to take them in custody or do them harm (Acts 4:3; John 8:20).
The apostles had the ability to lay hands on others and pass on the ability to perform spiritual gifts. In Acts 8 Simon the Sorcerer realizes this and asks that the apostles give him the ability to pass on gifts. Notice, Simon did not just want a spiritual gift. He wanted the ability to pass on spiritual gifts. Simon never received this ability. Only the apostles were able to pass on gifts by laying on of hands.
One can't help but wonder exactly what the Hebrew writer (probably Paul) was referring to when he mentioned the laying on of hands. The exact word used in Hebrews 6:2 was only used in three other verses (Acts 8:18; 1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6). All three of those verses refer to the apostles passing on the spiritual gifts by the laying on of hands. It seems the Hebrew writer is referring to the power of the apostles to pass on gifts as a principle of the doctrine of Christ.
Before we leave this principle, let's expand on something we mentioned earlier. Think about the fact that only the apostles could pass on spiritual gifts. Once the Bible student realizes this, they also come to the understanding that spiritual gifts would cease. If only the apostles could pass gifts on, then when the following generation passed away the spiritual gifts would cease. We can also study about this in 1 Corinthians 13.
1 Corinthians 13 shows us how spiritual gifts revealed the word of God. The gifts of knowledge, tongues and prophecy were all tools God used to reveal His word. The scripture words it as “knowing in part” and “prophecying in part”. In other words, the gift of knowledge and prophecy were just pieces or parts. When that word was completely revealed, there would be no more need for these tools. 1 Corinthians 13:10 words it “when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part will be done away with.” In other words, when the perfect law of liberty (the word of God) was completely revealed there would be no need for these gifts that revealed the word in parts or pieces.
We have two things that help us understand the gifts have ceased. First, we have the perfect, complete word of God. It contains all things pertaining to life and godliness. If the scriptures are true, then the gifts have ceased since the completed word has been revealed. 1 Corinthians 13 said when it was completely revealed those gifts would cease. Second, we learned earlier that only the apostles could pass on gifts. The apostles have passed away and the generation after them which had the gifts has passed away. Therefore gifts have ceased.
The Bible student can overcome a lot of false doctrine by grasping this principle of the doctrine of Christ. Those teaching for example that you must speak in tongues do err not knowing the scriptures. This gift no longer exists. Also, Paul once rhetorically asked, “Do all speak in tongues.” The answer has always been “NO”. Speaking in a tongue or having any spiritual gift never has been a requirement of being a Christian.