Laying on of Hands

"Laying on of Hands" is found throughout the Bible. This has been practiced in many other religions, particularly because there is a spiritual transfer that can occur.


In the New Testament, we see Jesus often laid hands on people for healing or removing demons. Sometimes He anointed and sometimes He didn't. Sometimes he wasn't even close to the person (e.g. the servant of the Centurion in Matthew 8:8) and He didn't lay hands or anoint them.


There is no formula but we are commanded in James 5:14, "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." this is not neccesarily commanding laying on of hands but the elders are to "pray over" and anoint with oil. The phrase "pray over him" (Greek, προσευξάσθωσαν ἐπ'αὐτὸν) is unique and the word "pray" in Greek (προσευξάσθωσαν) is only found once in this form. We know that Jesus and the disciples often laid their hands on people for healing, and we do know that the Holy Spirit (even evil spirits) can be transferred through touch, so I believe it is good (unless the Spirit directs otherwise) to lay hands on people for healing and deliverance.


Hebrews 6:1-2 states that "laying on of hands" is one of the "elementary principles." When the apostles laid hands, the Holy Spirit was given (Acts 8:18) which is why Simon offered them money. Paul tells Timothy that he was given a gift "by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership" (1 Timothy 4:14). Paul later tells Timothy "to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands" (2 Timothy 1:6). This is not just for Timothy but also for us.

Laying on of hands is found in the Bible for:

  • Physical Healing (e.g. Matthew 8:2-4, 14, 15; 20:34; Mark 1:41; 6:5; 5:3; 7:32, 33; 8:23, 25; 16:18; Luke 4:40; 13:13; 22:50, 51; Acts 9:10-12, 17; 28:8; James 5:14)
  • Spiritual Deliverance (e.g. Luke 4:40, 41; Luke 13:11-13)
  • The Baptism of the Holy Spirit (e.g. Acts 8:17-19; 9:12, 17; 19:6)
  • The impartation of the gift of the Holy Spirit and "to stir up the gift of God" (e.g. 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6)
  • Separation for Service/Ministry (e.g. Numbers 8:10, 11; 27:18, 20, 23; Acts 6:5, 6; Acts 13:3)
  • Raising of the Dead (e.g. Matthew 9:18, 25)
  • Impartation of Spiritual Authority for leadership (e.g. Numbers 27:16-23 (The word here sometimes translated "honour" may correctly be rendered "authority.")
  • Impartation of Spiritual Blessing (e.g. Matthew 19:13-15/Mark 10:13, 16)
  • Various Signs and Wonders (e.g. Acts 5:12; 14:3)
  • Impartation of Strength (e.g. Daniel 10:16-19)

    However, we are also told, "Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people's sins; keep yourself pure" (1 Timothy 5:22). This means we need to be careful who we lay our hands on. I have heard of people receiving a demon when someone who has a demon laid their hands on them. I have also heard of this working in reverse so one has to be careful and led by the Holy Spirit.

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