Question #146

Did Timothy receive any spiritual gift by the laying on of hands?

Did Timothy receive any spiritual gift by the laying on of the elders' hands in 1 Tim. 4:14? was the statement that Simon gave concerning that the gift being given at the laying on of the apostles' hands exclusive of the process being given by any other means?

The Answer:

For the initial response to this question you are referred to the answers to Questions 9 and 27, together with Class:Questions, Lesson 12. All of these relate directly to the work of the Holy Spirit. You should also read our lesson on Miracles or Magic (PDF file) that deals with modern day “miracles.” This question seeks additional information related to how spiritual gifts were bestowed on believers in the early church.

Acts 8 records that the evangelist Philip went to Samaria and preached Christ. One of the converts was Simon who before his conversion had used sorcery in the city. When the apostles heard of that which had occurred in Samaria they sent Peter and John who came and laid their hands on the converts who then received the Holy Ghost. This cannot be a reference to the “gift of the Holy Spirit” referenced in Acts 2:38 because that was promised upon repentance and baptism for the remission of sins. The immediate context confirms this because it was this imparting of spiritual gifts that caught Simon’s attention. This impartation was not something that Philip could do even though he himself had miraculous powers. 8:6-7. Thus, only the apostles could impart spiritual gifts through the laying on of their hands. This being the case, since the elders who laid hands on Timothy were not apostles, it is clear that Timothy received no miraculous gifts from that process. Why, then, did the elders lay hands on Timothy? This passage must be read in conjunction with 2 Tim. 1:6 where Paul affirms that the “gift of God” that was in Timothy came from the laying on of Paul’s hands. Many suppose that these two passages related to the same occasion, and that in one Paul emphasizes the laying on of the elders’ hands and in the other emphasizes his own laying on of hands. The reference in 1 Tim. could have been in recognition of Paul’s leaving Timothy to serve as his emissary in the area upon Paul’s departure, with the elders participating to recognize Timothy’s function and to indicate that agreement and blessing upon his service. From scripture it is clear that any miraculous gifts were imparted by the hands of Paul.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)