The laying on of hands in ordination was viewed as a serious matter. It symbolically communicates a sharing of the mantle of leadership and/or a calling to special service.
Only those who demonstrated a prior calling by the Lord were to be commissioned to his work.
A more complete definition would be “to set apart to an office or special service.”
When a person is ordained, he is set apart for kingdom purposes. The process is designed to set a person apart for a holy use. They are being “called out to go forth”.
This is covered in the 5th basic doctrine listed in Hebrews 6:1-2
“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of the Messiah, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.”
Moses laid his hands upon Joshua, signifying the transferal of some of his authority to lead the nation. (Numbers 27:18-20, 22-23) What was the result? (Deuteronomy 34:9)
In doing this, Moses accomplished two main purposes.
* First, he transmitted to Joshua a measure of the spiritual wisdom and honor that he had received from God;
* Second, he publicly acknowledged before the whole congregation of Israel God’s appointment of Joshua as the leader who was to succeed him.
We have here the first ordination of leadership not associated with the blessing of the firstborn.
As God identified Joshua for ordination at the hands of Moses, so the Messianic believers were led by the Spirit to commission certain of its members.
When the disciples decided they needed helpers in ministry, they returned to a more formal Old Testament-style method of laying on hands (Acts 6:6).
It reads: “The group presented them to the apostles, who prayed and placed their hands on them.”
This was similar to the process used in the Jewish synagogues at the time as well. We see God’s confirmation of the ordination itself in the next verse (7):
“So the preaching about God flourished, the number of the disciples in Jerusalem multiplied greatly, and a large group of priests became obedient to the faith.”
Acts 13 contains another example: “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off “ (Acts 13:2-3).
There is a special anointing that can come through the laying on of hands. Timothy received special spiritual gifts from the hands of the elders, including the gifts of wisdom and teaching.
Paul reminded him that ordination bestowed such gifts upon him and that he needed to stir up God’s Spirit to use them.
(1 Timothy 4:14-16) “Do not neglect the spiritual gift that is in you, which was given to you when the prophets spoke and the elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things and devote yourself to them, in order that your progress may be seen by all. Watch yourself and watch your teaching. Keep on doing these things, because if you do, you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
There are five functions in this ministry doctrine:
4. Ministration of Blessing
5. Commissioning for ministry
In the laying on of hands there is an actual transmission from the administrator to the recipient. Adonai Himself is essentially Spirit according to John 4:24.
Knowing this, when a Spirit-filled anointed servant lays hands on another, there is a transfer of Spiritual vitality, The Life Force of Adonai.
Natural man in himself cannot impart spiritual power, except through counterfeit sources. The counterfeit is always inferior in quality and power to the genuine.
This creates two God-given principles:
* It is impossible to impart that which you do not personally possess.
* Man does not have the power to transmit spiritual power.
What does this mean? A believer must be spirit-filled and must be anointed for the ministry involved. Why?
The spiritual impartation not only affects the man’s spirit but also his soul and physical being.
In the laying on of hands there is also identification. It is necessary to know the character of the person on whom you are going to lay hands to transfer authority or to ordain.
In 1 Timothy 5:22 Shaul (Paul) warns Timothy regarding laying hands on another hastily.
In verse 24 he gives the reason in that some men’s sins are openly known, and others are secret.
By laying on hands, complete identification is made with the person and all that they are, therefore we become partakers of their sins. This is the reason for the need for care.
In the laying on of hands there is also a confirmation of the candidate. This can be of a positive or negative nature. In the Torah concerning penalties inflicted for sin, hands would be laid on the accused by witnesses to his offense.
By doing this they were making a formal confirmation of the guilt of the person. They confirmed that the accused was guilty and worthy of the prescribed punishment. This is according to Moses instruction – Deuteronomy 17:2-7
4. Ministration of Blessing
Laying hands on, or lifting the hands toward another was done in an intent of blessing the other person. The laying of hands brings blessing from Adonai to the recipient of that ministry.
This is a very ancient custom, as in Egyptian art, mourners are depicted laying hands on their heads as did Tamar when in mourning (2 Samuel 13:19).
The custom was that by laying hands on the head, the circumstances would change by the act of appealing blessing on oneself.
Jacob blessed his sons with the prophetic word and in the case of Ephraim and Manasseh it says, “he blessed them that day” (Genesis 48:13-20)
Aaron also used this lifting of the hands in the ministry of blessing Israel. (Leviticus 9:22)
Yeshua laid hands on the infants as requested, demonstrating that it was a practiced custom. (Mark 10:13, 16 Matt.19:13-15). He also did this in departing from His disciples (Luke 24:50-51)
5. Commissioning of Ministry
This was an established practice in the ordination of ministry and in the commissioning and sending forth of ministry.
It was public acknowledgment that these men were ordained, commissioned and equipped for the task by the impartation of the necessary wisdom, grace and power that would be needed.
“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of Adonai.” 1 Peter 4:10