(See BAPTISM.) Laying on hands.
The noun 'confirmation' is used only twice in AV (Php 1:7; Heb 6:16), the reference in the first case being to the establishment of the truth of the gospel, and in the second to the ratification of a statement by an oath. The verb 'confirm,' however, is found frequently in both OT and NT, in various shades of meaning, but with the general sense of strengthening and establishing. The only questions of interest are (1) whether 'confirm' is used in NT to denote the ecclesiastical rite of Confirmation; and (2) whether that rite is referred to under the 'laying on of hands.'
1. There are 3 passages in Acts (Ac 14:22; 15:32,41) in which Paul and Barnabas, or Judas and Silas, or Paul by himself, are said to have confirmed 'the souls of the disciples,' 'the brethren,' 'the churches.' In none of these is there any indication of the performance of a rite, and the natural suggestion is that the word is used simply of a spiritual strengthening.
2. In the 'Order of Confirmation' in the Book of Common Prayer, 'the laying on of hands upon those that are baptized and come to years of discretion,' as performed by the bishop, is said to be done 'after the example of Thy holy Apostles.' Presumably the reference is to such passages as Ac 8:15-17; 19:6; Heb 6:2. In the passages in Acts, however, the imposition of hands is associated with the impartation of extraordinary spiritual gifts, while of Heb 6:2 no more can be said than that in the early Church the act appears to have been closely associated with baptism. That it might precede baptism instead of following it is shown by Ac 9:17-18; which further shows that it might be performed by one who was not an Apostle or even an official of the Church. In all likelihood it was simply a natural and beautiful symbol accompanying prayer (Ac 8:15), which had come down from OT times (Ge 48:14), and had been used by Christ Himself in the act of blessing (Mt 19:13-15). See, further, Laying on of Hands.
J. C. Lambert.
Paul and Barnabas went to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith. Judas and Silas, messengers from Jerusalem to Antioch, being prophets, exhorted the brethren with many words and confirmed them. Again Paul and Silas went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches. Ac 14:22; 15:32,41. These passages, with Ac 18:23, where the word is translated 'strengthen,' are all the places where the word ?????????? occurs. (There is no idea of any ceremonial, like what is now called 'Confirmation.')