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The sacrament of confirmation is found in Bible passages such as Acts 8:14–17, 9:17, 19:6, and Hebrews 6:2, which speak of a laying on of hands for the purpose of bestowing the Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 6:2 is especially important because it is not a narrative account of how confirmation was given and, thus, cannot be dismissed by those who reject the sacrament as something unique to the apostolic age. In fact, the passage refers to confirmation as one of Christianity’s basic teachings, which is to be expected since confirmation, like baptism, is a sacrament of initiation into the Christian life.
We read: "Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment" (Heb. 6:1–2).
Notice how in this passage we are walked through the successive stages of the Christian journey—repentance, faith, baptism, confirmation, resurrection, and judgment. This passage encapsulates the Christian’s journey toward heaven and gives what theologians call the order of salvation or the ordo salutis. It well qualifies as "the elementary teachings" of the Christian faith.
The laying on of hands mentioned in the passage must be confirmation: The other kinds of the imposition of hands (for ordination and for healing) are not done to each and every Christian and scarcely qualify as part of the order of salvation.
As the following passages show, the Church Fathers and early Christian writers also recognized confirmation as a sacrament distinct from baptism, even though it was usually given simultaneously with baptism. Their words speak powerfully about this anointing and imposition of hands for reception of the Holy Spirit and the role it has in Christian initiation.
"Are you unwilling to be anointed with the oil of God? It is on this account that we are called Christians: because we are anointed with the oil of God" (From Theophilus of Antioch to Autolycus 1:12 [A.D. 181]).