by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 3 Study # 4 Lincolnton, NC January 29, 2006
22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure.
1901 ASV Translation:
22 Lay hands hastily on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure.
I. The "Placement" of Hands Upon Someone.
A. Acts 6:6 -- the "deacons" of the early Church were prayed over and the apostles "laid hands on them".
B. Acts 8:17 -- the apostles "laid hands on" the Samaritans and the gift of the Holy Spirit was given to the Samaritans (see also Acts 19:6).
C. Acts 13:3 -- the church in Antioch had leaders who, in response to the Holy Spirit, "laid hands upon Barnabas and Saul" after prayer and fasting to send them to "the work".
D. 1 Timothy 4:14 -- Timothy's "gift" was in him by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Note that in 2 Timothy 1:6, Paul claimed the "gift" was in him by reason of his hands.
E. Summary: Though it cannot be established that the Holy Spirit and His gifts are yet given to believers through the laying on of hands, it seems apparent that Paul's exhortation to Timothy does have some of the Acts 13:3 concept within it. The issue is not the imparting of some spiritual gift. It is the issue of signaling agreement with the individual and lending that person the weight of one's influence.
1. This is the only way that one could be "chargeable" for "laying hands on someone".
a. There is a principle here: one who cooperates with the actions of another is a sharer in those actions and bears responsibility for what is done.
b. There is a limitation here also: clearly, Paul is addressing the workings of the Church, not the workings of the universe in general. In other words, there can be no application of this principle beyond the boundaries of this context without creating an impossible world of responsibility for sin (if I am "chargeable" for the sins of those whose lives are "aided" by my actions, how can I "aid" anyone?). Even God chose Adam to be "His" man for the task of heading up the human race, but He shares no "sin" with that man.
c. The application of the principle does, however, have a place beyond the issue of local elders in a local church as Ephesians 5:11 reveals.
2. The implication is that Timothy is supposed to be choosing the elders according to the standards given earlier and he is not supposed to do that too quickly or he will be a sharer in the sins of any whom he appoints who are really not qualified.
a. There is this, however, that the earlier instruction in this paragraph makes provision for dealing with elders that sin. The direct implication is that even with sufficient time to observe a man, there are no guarantees that anyone will stay on course.
b. Elders who are involved in the selection of other men to be elders have, thus, a double responsibility: they are to be careful to select men of legitimate reputation; and they are to respond to any significant failure with discipline.
3. This raises this question: what about "church planting" where there is no "apostolic representative"? Are "church planters" supposed to "choose" the first set of elders for the church? Who "chooses" the "church planter"? How did Paul "choose" the leaders of the churches that he established when he was "in town" for only weeks, or months? It seems fairly clear that Paul is giving instructions for "the norm", not the special situations.