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Hands; Hands, Imposition, Laying On Of

HANDS; HANDS, IMPOSITION, LAYING ON OF

im-po-zish'-un (epithesis cheiron, Acts 8:18; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6; Hebrews 6:2):

The act or ceremony of the imposition of hands appears in the Old Testament in various connections: in the act of blessing (Genesis 48:14); in the ritual of sacrifice (hands of the offerer laid on head of victim, Exodus 29:10,15,19; Leviticus 1:4; 3:2,8,13; 4:4,24,29; 8:14; 16:21); in witness-bearing in capital offenses (Leviticus 24:14). The tribe of Levi was set apart by solemn imposition of hands (Numbers 8:10); Moses appointed Joshua to be his successor by a similar act (Numbers 27:18,23; Deuteronomy 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 Leviticus 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 (Matthew 19:13,15 parallel Mark 10:16) and on the sick (Matthew 9:18; Mark 6:5, etc.), and the apostles laid hands on those whom they baptized that they might receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17,19; 19:6), and in healing (Acts 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 (Acts 6:6), in the sending out of Barnabas and Saul (Acts 13:3), at the ordination of Timothy (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6), but though not directly mentioned, it seems likely that it accompanied all acts of ordination of presbyters and deacons (compare 1 Timothy 5:22; Hebrews 6:2). The presbyters could hardly convey what they had not themselves received (1 Timothy 1:14). Here again the fundamental idea is communication. The act of laying on of hands was accompanied by prayer (Acts 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."

See SACRIFICE; MINISTRY; ORDINATION.

James Orr


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'HANDS; HANDS, IMPOSITION, LAYING ON OF'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.