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CONFIRM, CONFIRMATION. In the OT seven Heb., and in the NT four Gr., verbs are used meaning “to confirm.” Their exact meanings vary somewhat, but all basically mean to strengthen, establish, or ratify, a person, a statute, a promise or a covenant. The only word used for “confirmation” is βεβαίωσις, G1012, which occurs twice in the NT (Phil 1:7; Heb 6:16), in both cases signifying the firm establishment of things, not people.

In some communions the word “confirmation” is used to refer to the ecclesiastical rite of the laying on of hands by a bishop or other church officer at baptism, or at a later confirmatory ceremony. This practice is copied from Acts 8:12-17. When Philip preached in Samaria, many believed and were baptized; later the apostles from Jerusalem sent Peter and John, who prayed for them and laid hands on them, when they received the Holy Spirit. However, the delay in receiving the Spirit would seem in this case to be for the special purpose of indicating the oneness of the new Samaritan church with Jerusalem. Elsewhere the reception of the Holy Spirit is directly linked with repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38; 10:44-48; 19:1-7). The references to Paul and his companions confirming the disciples (Acts 14:22; 15:32; 18:23) do not imply any ecclesiastical rite, but the inner strengthening of believers’ faith.


A. C. A. Hall, Confirmation (1900); G. W. H. Lampe, The Seal of the Spirit (1951); L. S. Thornton, Confirmation: Its Place in the Baptismal Mystery (1954); F. L. Cross, ed., “Confirmation,” ODCC (1957).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

See Laying on of Hands.