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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Hands; Imposition, Laying on of

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im - pō̇ - zish´un ( ἐπίθεσις χειρῶν , epı́thesis cheirō̇n , 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 , Exodus 29:15 , Exodus 29:19 ; Leviticus 1:4 ; Leviticus 3:2 , Leviticus 3:8 , Leviticus 3:13 ; Leviticus 4:4 , Leviticus 4:24 , Leviticus 4:29 ; Leviticus 8:14 ; Leviticus 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 , Numbers 27:23 ; 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 , Matthew 19:15 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 , Acts 8:19 ; Acts 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 ; Acts 8:15 ; Acts 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 .

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Hands; Imposition, Laying on of'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 1915.

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