Summary: What is this thing called confirmation? What does it have to do with baptism? Is it even in the Bible or just vain human tradition? Let’s look at how the biblical term “laying on of hands” is confirmation, and that it is found in the list of basic doctrines of Hebrews 6:1-2.
What is this thing called confirmation? What does it have to do with baptism? Is it even in the Bible or just vain human tradition? Let’s look at how the biblical term “laying on of hands” is confirmation, and that it is found in the list of basic doctrines of Hebrews 6:1-2.
Infant baptism in NOT MANDATED in the Bible. Jesus was not baptized until He was 30. However, infant baptism is also NOT FORBIDDEN and has plenty of precedence in the Bible. Adult Israelites AND their children were baptized into Moses. Baptism pictures being circumcised by Christ, which physically was performed on both infants AND adults. At least three households were baptized in Acts, and it’s statistically likely that some contained children.
If we were baptized as infants through our parents’ faith, we need to confirm our own faith, and have the Church confirm our confession with the laying on of hands and prayer, and we want God to confirm our adoption by sealing us with the Holy Spirit.
Faith Confirmed Publicly
When we are baptized as infants, we cannot confess our sins or confirm our faith. Therefore the laying on of hands is delayed until we can. When we are of age, we answer questions confirming our faith before the assembled local church, followed by prayer with the laying on of hands.
Matthew 10:32 “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.”
Luke 12:8 “And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God”
Romans 10:9-10 “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
1 John 4:15 “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”
Confirmation is an historically more recent western term. The biblical term is the Laying on of Hands. The purpose is asking God to grant the Holy Spirit. These previous verses do not specifically refer to a ritual we moderns call confirmation, but the following verses do.
Baptism Confirmed with Laying on of Hands
Whereas in adult baptism laying on of hands usually follows immediately after washing by the water, in Acts is a case where the apostles prayed and laid their hands on people long after their baptism, and they received the Holy Spirit.
Acts 8:14-17 “Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.”
In the letter to the Hebrews we also see that baptism (ceremonial washings) and laying on of hands are two separate events.
Hebrews 6:1-2 “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.”
Laying on of hands is very much associated with receiving or being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 9:17 “So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Though God can give the Holy Spirit at any time of His choosing, it is normal to expect the coming of the Holy Spirit with the laying on of hands.
Acts 19:5-6 “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them…”
The Order is God’s Choice not Ours
On one occasion, God gave the Holy Spirit before baptism. Infant baptism puts baptism before repentance. Therefore repentance must take place before laying on of hands.
Acts 10:44-48 “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, ‘Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?’ And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.”