Bible Reading: Acts 8:1-25
1 And Saul approved of their killing him. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison. 4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralysed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city. 9 Now for some time a man named Simon had practised sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. 12 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptised, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptised. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. 14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” 24 Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.” 25 After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.
e. RECEIVING THE HOLY SPIRIT
There are five recorded instances of receiving the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts. Two of them describe immediate or direct reception, and three describe a mediated or indirect reception. On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was given immediately or directly, without any laying on of hands. This was also true of Cornelius' household. Thus, the Holy Spirit was immediately and directly given to the Jews at Pentecost and to the Gentiles at Cornelius’ house. The other three instances describe receiving the Holy Spirit via an intermediary or indirectly, with the laying on of hands.
1) SAMARIA (Acts 8:1-25)
"Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there." His preaching was accompanied with outstanding healings and deliverances, causing "great joy in that city." "But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptised, both men and women." However, "the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them." Peter and John were sent down from Jerusalem and "placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit." Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit!"
2) SAUL OF TARSUS (Acts 9:1-19)
Verse 17 - "Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
3) EPHESUS (Acts 19:1-7)
In Ephesus, Paul found "some disciples" who knew about Jesus, but only in terms of John the Baptist's message. The distinctive spiritual life of a New Covenant community was lacking, causing Paul to ask, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" To which they replied, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." Paul then brought them up to date, presenting the full message of the Lord Jesus Christ. "On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." "When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied."
f. THE APPOINTMENT OF THE FIRST DEACONS (Acts 6:1-6)
Verse 6 — "They presented these men (seven qualified men) to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them."
g. THE ORDINATION OF MINISTERS
1 Tim. 4:14 - "Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you."
2 Tim. 1:6 - "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands."
h. SEPARATION TO A SPECIFIC WORK
Acts 13:2-3 - "While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off."
1 Tim. 5:22 - "Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands . . ."
Amp. - "Do not be in a hurry in THE LAYING ON OF HANDS!"
JBP - "Never be in a hurry to ordain a man!"
Is the laying on of hands to be practised indiscriminately? We think not. The Scripture is quite explicit as to the kinds of people who should participate in this God-ordained action. Let us consider the permissions and restrictions as indicated in the Scriptures.
a. BELIEVERS MAY LAY ON HANDS FOR HEALING
Mark 16:17, 18 - "And these signs will accompany those who believe: . . . they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."
It is profitable to read the context of this quotation and note what these believers believed. Since faith is measurable, some believe more than others. The Bible speaks of "little faith . . . great faith. . . and no faith." The basis of faith is the Word of God. We measure our own faith by our knowledge of, and trust in, the Word."
b- APOSTLES AND DISCIPLES LAID ON HANDS FOR THE RECEPTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Acts 8:18 — "When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, . . ."
There is little need for us to discuss the qualifications of the as Apostles. These were men appointed and anointed of God, whose lives and ministries were committed and spiritually vital.
Acts 9:10,17 - "In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias . . . Placing his hands on Saul . . . be filled with the Holy Spirit."
Let us carefully notice the qualifications of Ananias the disciple. As a disciple, he was one subject to the disciplines of the Lord Jesus Christ. "... He was a devout (reverential, pious) observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living ..." at Damascus (Acts 22:12). When the Lord called him, he replied "... Yes, Lord,..." (Acts 9:10) implying he was A MAN READY to obey! When the Lord instructed him to go on what appeared to be a dangerous and unpleasant task, he went, showing that he was not only listening but OBEDIENT.
c. APOSTLES AND PRESBYTERS LAID ON HANDS FOR ORDINATION
1 Tim. 4:14 - " . .. the body of elders laid their hands on you."
2 Tim. 1:6 - " . . . the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my (Paul's)hands."
Study Questions for Lesson No. 12