The Laying on of Hands: Benefits and Dangers

Chris Foster, TeachingPurpose: 
To transmit:  blessing, Authority, Wisdom, The HS, a Spiritual gift or a ministry
To commission: 

  1. To recognize God’s appointment)
  2. To set apart for a certain task or ministry
  3. To endorse
  4. Equip with authority needed.

Laying on of Hands in the Old Testament
In Blessing:

  1. Isaac blessed Jacob  – Gen 27
  2. Jacob (Israel) blessed Ephraim over Manassah… greater blessing came through right hand (Gen 48:14-20). 

In consecration of offerings:  (Principle of transmission)

  1. Hands laid on sacrifice by priest (to symbolically transfer guilt) Lev 1:4; 3:2; 4:15; 16:21 and on the scape goat. 
  2. Lev 4:15 “And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands upon the head of the bull before the Lord: and the bull shall be killed before the Lord” (Lev 4:15) 
  3. Read Num 8:10-16 to commission Levites, set apart, and consecrate  
  4. Moses lays hands on Joshua to commission, give authority and the spirit of wisdom. 
  5. Read Num 27:18-23 “commission” “give authority” 
  6. Read Deut 34:9  Moses to Joshua “filled with the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands on him; and the Israelites obeyed him, doing as the LORD had commanded Moses” (Spirit and Authority was imparted or transferred) 

Laying on of Hands in the New Testament
In Blessing:

  1. Mark 10:16 “And he took them (the children) up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them” (NRSV).
  2. Matt 19:15 “”And he laid his hands on them and went on his way”

God’s concern is to bless his children.  
Action point: The second most prominent and powerful blessing in Scripture, is those that come from Father or grandfather blessing their children. 

  1. Read Num 6:22-27: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” 

Believers should bless and not curse.

  1. Read James 3:9-10. 

In the Baptism of the Holy Spirit: 

  1. Acts 8:17 
  2. Acts 9:17
  3. Acts 19:1-6

In Healing/exorcism/miracles by Jesus:

  1. Matt 8:3 “He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do choose. Be made clearn!” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed” 
  2. Matt 8:15 “he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she got up and began to serve him.” 
  3. Matt 9:18 Jairus appeals that the Lord would come and lay His hand upon her daughter. 
  4. Luke 4:40 “Wile the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him; and laying his hands on each one of them, he was healing them.” 
  5. (See also Mark 1:31, 41; 3:10; 5:23; 6:5, 56; 7:32; 8:23, 25; 9:27; Luke 4:40; 6:19; 13:13; 14:4) and 

In Healing by the early church (Acts 3:7; 5:12, 15; 9:12, 17; 14:3; 19:11; 28:8)

  1. Read Mark 16:18 We are commissioned to lay hands on the sick for their recovery. “They shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover” 5th sign that follows believers. 
  2. Read Acts 9:12, 17 Paul’s blind eyes healed through Ananias laying on of his hands and be filled with the Holy Spirit. 
  3. Read Acts 14:3 
  4. Acts 19:11 “God did extraordinary miracles through [the hands of (in Greek)] Paul, so that when the handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were brought to the sick, their diseases left them, and the evil spirits came out of them.” 
  5. Acts 28:8 His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. (NIV)
  6. Read James 5:14 “Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord.” Related but involves anointing with oil… symbolic and obedient act for healing… includes touching the person. 
  • We lay on hands by faith… 
  • by obedience to the voice and leading of the Holy Spirit. 
  • by need… those asking for healing.

To Commissioning, imparting, sending, equipping
Stephen and colleagues 

  1. Read Acts 6:1-6 – identifies a person’s call to a specific task:
  2. “They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their lands on them” (Acts 6:6)

Paul and Barnabas

  1. Read Acts 13:1-5     
  2. “Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off” (Acts 13:3).
  3. “Do not neglect the gift (charismatos) that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy (singular) with (meta) the laying on of hands by the council (body) of elders (presbuteros)” (1 Tim 4:14) 

Public validation in the church of his gifts and commissioning. 
Be affirmed locally; do not go rogue. 

  1. “I am giving you these instructions, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies (plural) made earlier about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight” (1 Tim 1:18)

Impart a spiritual gift:
“For this reason, I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through (dia) the laying on of my hands; 7 for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” (2 Tim 1:6) NRSV)

  1. Gift – “God’s favor graciously and undeservedly bestowed through the working of his Holy Spirit”   Also could be spiritual gifts given to believers for ministry in the Church.
  2. Read Romans 1:11 
  3. ”For I am longing to see you so that I may share (Gk: impart) unto you some spiritual gift”  
  4. We do not impart anything in our own power, but by the direction and power of the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 12:11). 

Dangers: do not lay hands hastily!
“Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, and do not participate (share) (κοινώνει ἁμαρτίαις) in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.” (1 Tim 5:22) 
Warning: do not hastily receive the laying on of hands! 

  1. If blessings can be imparted, the opposite can happen. 
  2. Alexander William Ness, in his book Transference of Spirits has observed the dangers of a negative transference of spirits by ministers with various problems.
  3. A minister with sexual immorality problems, counseling couples who start having similar problems. 
  4. Leader of prayer group with a very critical spirit, ministering to the prayer group who become equally as critical and developed an unholy faithfulness to this critic.
  5. “A layman who went far astray in doctrine, laid hands on followers, ministered to them and soon they were deceived and accepted his false doctrines, hook, line and sinker.”

Be careful of what kind of spirit you submit yourself to when you ask someone to lay hands on you. 

  1. There are lying spirits in false prophets, the spirit of man (Ezek 13:3) ( I got pushed over one time in an altar line by the pastor), 
  2. “The spirit that now works in the children of disobedience” (Eph 2:2)
  3. Unclean spirits (Matt 10:1)
  4. Seducing spirits (1 Tim 4:1)
  5. Read: 2 Cor 11:13-15

Make sure the person laying on of hands is trustworthy, has integrity, knows the word of God, “You shall know them by their fruit” Matt 7:16

  1. Be alert, on guard in your Spirit… tune in to the Holy Spirit asking for discernment of Spirits. If you feel a check, you can pray protection over yourself or refuse the laying on of hands. 1 Peter 5: 8, 9 “be sober, be vigilant because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”  
  2. This danger can be avoided by walking rightly and humbling before ethe Lord, reading the word of God regularly, praying, loving the Lord, worshipping, being obedient to submit where God plants to you under godly order and leadership.
  3. If you are walking rightly with the Lord, you need not fear inadvertently picking something up.  
  4. If you can remember back to a time when prayed over and something did not seem right or you picked up something, not of the Lord. Submit to God, Identify it, renounce it, take authority over it and command it to go. (James 4:7-11)


  1. “First, this ministry should never be exercised lightly or carelessly, but always in a spirit of prayer and humility. 
  2. Second, the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit should be sought at every stage: With whom to pray? When to pray? How to pray? 
  3. Third, the believer who lays on hands must know how to claim on behalf of his own spirit the continual purifying and protecting power of the Blood of Christ.
  4. Fourth, the believer who lay on hands must himself be so empowered by the Holy Spirit that he is able to overcome any kind of evil spiritual influence seeking to work in or through the one upon whom hands are laid.
  5. When they four safeguards are not carefully observed, there is a real danger that harmful spiritual results may follow, the practice of laying on of hands – either in the one who lays on hands, or in the one on whom hands are laid, or in both.” (Derek Prince, “Laying on of Hands” booklet (Fort Lauderdale: Derek Prince Publications)

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