THE CHANGE MOVEMENT – Lifting Up Hands/Hand Clapping


Lifting Up Hands/Hand Clapping


A. One of the latest fads making the rounds in some churches
of Christ is the practice of holding up one’s arms and
swaying in worship assembly

B. This practice is surely symptomatic of the restless
dissatisfaction with the status quo and the contemporary
push to brand previous interpretations of Scripture as
“tradition” in order to fashion religious practice
according to one’s own desire

1. Isaiah 30:9-10

2. 2 Timothy 4:3

C. Nevertheless, what do the Scriptures teach regarding lifting
up one’s arms in worship



1. Biblical Prayer Postures

a. It is true that the lifting up of hands was a prayer posture
used in the Bible (along with six others)

1) Kneeling (with head bowed, arms raised, knees on the
ground under the body with the forehead touching the

2)  Standing (with head bowed, with eyes uplifted, with
arms raised),

3) Lying face down on the ground

b. Today the lifting up of hands comes more from
following fads rather than serious Bible study.

2. While various prayer postures are mentioned in passing in
the Bible, the overwhelming emphasis is clearly on the
attitude  and thought of the one praying

a. The posture of prayer appears to be of minimal concern
and essentially optional

b. Prayer postures should flow naturally from a sincere
heart uncorrupted by ulterior motives

3. Worship practices in the New Testament is clearly and
conspicuously free from any external ritual and

a. In worship God has not allowed any elements that
are potentially self-serving and designed to impress
the participants rather than focus on God

b. As a matter of fact, Jesus criticized the religious leaders
of His day for their persistent attention to external
display, appearances, show and hype.

1) Matthew 6:5

2) Matthew 23:5-7, 25-30

4. Many try to use 1 Timothy 2:8 as their authority for the
lifting of hands.

a. This is actually a figure of speech known as metonymy
in which the writer substitutes an association word for
what is actually meant

b. In this case a posture of prayer is mentioned for prayer
itself – Today, we might says “let us bow our heads”

1) A comparable situation is seen with regard to the
“holy kiss” (Rom. 16:16)

2) Paul is not enjoining the act of kissing upon the

3) He is simply regulating what is already being
practiced culturally, by insisting that the act must be
kept holy

c. Paul is stressing the necessity of public prayers
ushering from holy lives.

d. Notice also that Paul enjoins the males of the
congregation to do the lifting up of hands (i.e., the
leading of prayers)

5. If one lifts up hands as a prayer posture, ask:

a. Does he do it at home also?

b. Do you do it only while praying?

c. Do you sway while lifting up your arms?

d. Do you lift up your arms because you think past
generations were cold and lifeless?

e. Do you feel you can pray acceptably without lifting up

6. Another change that has made its way into the worship
assembly is the act of…


1. Handclapping as musical accompaniment

a. This is clearly unscriptural on the grounds that it is
parallel to a mechanical device that might be used to
supplement vocal music.

b. The clapping hands or the of snapping fingers, are
logically equivalent to the use of mechanical  instruments
of music

c. Clapping our hands along with the music is no different
than beating a tambourine, beating on a piano, or
fingering a guitar.

d. Handclapping is a non-vocal “natural” instrumental,
while playing the piano or blowing a trumpet is a
non-vocal mechanical instrumental – both are
unauthorized because God demands vocal verbal
articulation in music only in worship

e. Ephesians 5:19

1) The Law of Exclusion

2)  This also rules out any non-lyrical sounds

2. Handclapping as applause

a. In many places the congregation is drawn into applause
following baptisms, sermons, and other worship

b. The proponents of handclapping as applause say it is
just the modern way of saying Amen.

c. Notice how handclapping is used in American

1) The primary function of applause is to indicate
personal approval of a performance (football, actors,

2) Another function of applause is the showing of
recognition of a performer – we express our
appreciation for their skill

3) Another function of handclapping is an expression of

4) A fourth function of applause is to manifest

d. How “amen” used in the Old Testament

1) Our English word “amen” is a transliteration of a
Hebrew word which mean “firm” – it is a term
meaning “certain and true”

2) The Israelites would say “amen” in order to confirm or
identify themselves with a particular verbal declaration
– it would also be used to affirm that a statement was
certain, valid and binding.

3) The Septuagint often translated the Hebrew word
for “amen” as genwitw, meaning “may it be” –
signifies what is true

4) “Amen” had essentially two uses in the Old

a) It signified the individual’s acceptance of  a
statement (e.g. Num. 5:22)

b) Indicates truthfulness – this statement is true
(1 Kgs. 1:36)

e. How “amen” is used in the New Testament

1) Found 126 times

2) It affirms that a statement is certain, true, and

3) To say “amen” was to confirm the binding nature
of those truths.

4) Jesus often said, “Verily, verily” or “truly,

f. Applause in our society is a response to an
entertaining performance – focused on the performer

1) If handclapping is authorized – then so would be the
giving of a “high-five”

2) Why not do the “wave”

g. Amen focuses on the message rather than the one
giving the message


A. We must have authority for all that we do in worship

B. Colossians 3:17


About from the Preachers PC

Gospel Preacher for the Park Heights church of Christ in Hamilton, TX. I stand for and defend the truth of God's word. All other degrees and diplomas mean very little in comparison.
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