2 tim - Laying of hands


This evening I was at a prayer meeting, at which the facilitator said that in 2 Tim the laying of hands referred to baptism. I had considered it episcopal ordination when Paul made Timothy a bishop. Which is it?

This also made me think of another issue, apostolic succession. When was Paul made a bishop, and by whom? Were there two streams of bishops, one from Paul and one from ‘the so-called pillars of the Church’?


In the New Testament, sometimes the imposition of hands is done in connection with baptism, and sometimes it is done in the act of ordaining. It is pretty universally related to the conferral (or strengthening) of the Holy Spirit on a person.

Timothy we know was made bishop of Ephesus. The references to the imposition of hands on him are clearly in the context of his episcopacy:

Till I come, attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you. (1 Tim 4:13-14)

Baptism generally doesn’t involve a “council of elders” laying hands on the baptized.

As bishop, he acts in the ordaining of others; thus:

Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor participate in another man’s sins; keep yourself pure. (1 Tim 5:22)

It seems reasonable, then, that 2 Tim 1:6 refers to the imposition of hands related to his ordination. This is confirmed by commentary on this verse from St. John Chrysostom:

“I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, that is in thee by the putting on of my hands,” that is, the grace of the Spirit, which thou hast received, for presiding over the Church, for the working of miracles, and for every service. (Chrysostom, Homily on 2 Tim 1)

The Council of Trent used this verse in defending the sacrament of Holy Orders:

Whereas, by the testimony of Scripture, by Apostolic tradition, and the unanimous consent of the Fathers, it is clear that grace is conferred by sacred ordination, which is performed by words and outward signs, no one ought to doubt that Order is truly and properly one of the seven sacraments of holy Church. For the apostle says; I admonish thee that thou stir up the grace of God, which is in thee by the imposition of my hands. For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love of sobriety. (Session XXIII, Chapter 3)



thank you so much for your reply, which supports my previous views, that the laying of hands made Timothy a bishop.

Re ‘Council of Trent’, priestly ordination is another day’s work, as in the early Church, I am told, presbyters were old men, who sat down at Mass, while bishops and deacons stood and offered the sacrifice. It was only with the persecution of Diocletian that their role at Mass was suggested.

You did not refer two two strand of bishops, those ordained by Paul and the so-called pillars.


Paul’s ordination may be mentioned in Acts 13:1-3. All episcopal ordination came ultimately through the Twelve, whosoever they ordained.


Hi, Noel!
…almost anything in Scriptures can be “interpreted” to mean almost anything the celebrant/presider wants.

Thank God for the Holy Spirit! Scriptures do not exist in a vacuum! Context and content must align with Scriptures: that is to say, an incident cannot be claimed unless it is proven by all three. The passage alluded to, does the context and content prove what is claimed? Does Scriptures outside of this particular passage support the claim?

…we can dissect it, if you like.

Maran atha!



Hi, Noel!
…the Church was not in competition with the Church:

2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.

6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.

12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles.

22 Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.

24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 15:2-4, 6-8, 12-14, 22, 24-26)

There cannot be schism/splintering in the Body:

3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:3-6)

Maran atha!



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