To understand impartation, you need to understand anointing, which in the Bible means “a smearing.” In the Scriptures, oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit. When a prophet or priest poured, rubbed, or smeared oil on someone’s head, it was called anointing that person. This act actually imparted a measure of the oil belonging to the prophet or priest to the anointed person. This is commonly known as the transfer of anointing.

In the Old Testament, oil was used to signify the passage of anointing. In the New Testament, we find that the anointing of the Holy Spirit can now be transferred through the laying on of hands because the anointing resides in us: “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you...” (1 John 2:27).


The Apostle Paul listed the laying on of hands as one of the six foundational doctrines every Christian should understand. This places it at the very foundation of our Christian beliefs. In many modern church circles, impartation is either ignored or outright rejected; in the first century, it was considered a fundamental truth:

Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of… the laying on of hands… (Hebrews 6:1-2). Paul also viewed impartation as part of the establishment process. He imparted spiritual gifts to the Roman believers to establish them: “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established…” (Rom. 1:11 NKJV).


In the Old Testament, anointing was a pronounced and determined event. Impartation occurs not only because of touch, but because a person lays hands on you under the guidance of the Holy Spirit with a specific purpose in mind. Intentional impartation occurs.

To say that impartation happens whenever contact occurs would be like saying if an Old Testament prophet had a leaking oil flask, then everything it dripped on was anointed to be king. If it were merely about touch, every handshake would impart some anointing. This is not biblical, and we do not promote such superstition. We intentionally give what we have, under the Holy Spirit’s guidance: “What I do have I give you…” (Acts 3:6).


There are many examples in the Bible of individuals or groups receiving an impartation from the Lord through another person. Let’s examine some of them.

“Joshua and Moses: Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him; so the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses” (Deuteronomy 34:9 LSG).

Moses and the elders: So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord. He gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them around the tabernacle. Then the Lord came down in the cloud, spoke to him, and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied…” (Numbers 11:24-25a NKJV).

Elijah and Elisha: And it came to pass, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask! What may I do for you before I am taken away from you?” Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me” (2 Kings 2:9 NKJV).

Peter: Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6 NKJV).

Paul and Timothy: Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership (1 Tim. 4:14).

Timothy was deeply impacted by impartation. Specifically, as a result of impartation, he received a spiritual gift through the laying on of hands and prophecy by a prophetic presbytery of elders: “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6 NKJV).


Does everyone receive the same level of impartation when hands are laid on them? Some have thought that if a famous Christian leader lays hands on an individual, the receiver will instantly obtain an impartation giving them an equal share of the anointing.

It is God’s mercy that protects us from receiving more than we can handle. As Pastor Bill Johnson of Redding, California, says, “Revelation always brings responsibility, and hunger prepares our hearts to carry the weight of that responsibility. Our character must be able to sustain the amount of power we carry, or we become a danger to those around us.” So the answer is no, not everyone receives the same level of anointing in impartation. God knows what you need and what you can manage.


The Parable of the Sower (see Luke 8:4-15) teaches us how the farmer scatters the seeds of salvation and also teaches us a principle about how we receive from God. Our heart is the soil, and Father God is the farmer who scatters the seed, which is the Word of God (or, in our analogy, the impartation). He casts it into the soil of our heart. Then birds, representing demonic attacks, come to kill, steal, and destroy.

This is where variation in impartation can occur. The difference in how a seed grows depends on the soil it is planted in and how prepared and ready that soil is for the seeds to grow. Once the seed is planted, it can grow very quickly if given the proper water (time in the Holy Spirit’s presence – see John 7:38-39) and sunlight (Jesus is the light the seed needs to grow – see 2 Cor. 4:4).

In my experience, those with the most powerful impartations are often those who are hungry for more of God, pastors who are tired and worn out, and people whose ministry desperately needs a breakthrough. These are people whose soil is eager for seeds, and almost as soon as the seed hits the soil, something sprouts. The soil is already prepared with water and sunlight, but impartation is needed to move into production.

On the other hand, there are those who are not hungry for God, do not spend time with the Holy Spirit, and do not walk in the light of Christ, leaving their hearts as hard as rocky soil. Usually, God has to plow this ground before a seed can grow there.

Another factor in farming is the necessary pressure the dirt exerts on a seed to crack the shell and allow the seed to start growing. Seeds that never sprouted, because they were never planted in the ground, have been found in the tombs of the pharaohs.

Some of these seeds, over 4,000 years old, have since been planted in the soil and have sprouted and grown. This is why seeds of salvation can be scattered on people’s hearts day after day with no result, but when the trials of life bring the necessary pressure, the seeds crack open and life sprouts. This pressure is relevant to impartation because not only do spiritually hungry people receive powerful impartations. Sometimes, it is a person about to lose their ministry or someone about to give up after a hardship.


It is essential to understand this next point: you can only impart what you possess – if you have it, you can impart it. If you don’t have it, do not lay hands on another and declare an impartation. If you only have olive anointing oil in your flask, you cannot declare and give cedar anointing oil to someone else. Yes, pray that God gives it to them.

But do not go claiming to impart what you do not possess in your own life. You cannot give resurrection power to someone if you have never raised the dead, but you can declare and prophesy it over someone if the Lord directs you. “The double portion,” concerning impartation, is a phrase commonly heard in some church circles.

To correctly understand the double portion, consider the following scenario. If an Old Testament prophet was sent to anoint a king and the prophet had ten ounces of anointing oil in his flask, he could only give the king ten ounces. If the king asked for a double portion of all the anointing the prophet had, it would mean he wanted not 10 ounces but 20 ounces. The prophet could not give 20 because he only had 10. The double portion means double the share of the prophet’s anointing. This is what Elisha did when he asked for a double portion of Elijah’s anointing. Elijah replied by saying, “You have asked a hard thing” (2 Kings 2:10). Then, because an individual cannot give a double portion to another person, Elijah placed the responsibility on God, saying: “If you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if not, it shall not be so” (2 Kings 2:10).

This is a good understanding of the concept of the double portion Elisha referred to. Notice that even the prophet Elijah could not freely give the double portion; he essentially said that God would have to do it. It may be wise to use this term with a bit more caution…

This text is an extract from the book “THE SCHOOL OF SEER” written by Dr. Jonathan Welton.

We invite you to read the following article “THREE DIFFERENT LEVELS IN THE GIFTS.

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