Why, brothers, look you out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom…
This action was of frequent use among the ancient Jews. The apostles must have remembered that it was employed in the designation of Joshua as leader of Israel in place of Moses (Numbers 27:18-23; cf. Deuteronomy 34:9), that it was used even in the synagogue in the appointment of Jewish rabbis, and had been sanctioned by our Lord's practice. They naturally, therefore, used this symbol upon the solemn appointment of the first deacons, and the same ceremonial was repeated upon similar occasions (see Acts 13:3; 2 Timothy 1:6; Hebrews 6:2). This ceremony was also employed by the apostles as the rite which filled up and perfected the baptism which had been administered by others (Acts 8:17). The ceremony of imposition of hands was so essential and distinguishing a point, that Simon Magus selects it as the one he desires above all others effectually to purchase, so that the outward symbol might be followed by the inward grace (Acts 8:19). Again in chap. Acts 19. we find St. Paul using the same visible ceremony in the case of St. John's disciples, who were first baptized with Christian baptism, and then endued by St. Paul with the gift of the Spirit. Imposition of hands in the case of ordination is a natural symbol, indicative of the transmission of function and authority. It fitly indicates and notifies to the whole Church the persons who have been ordained, and therefore has ever been regarded as a necessary part of ordination.
(G. T. Stokes, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.