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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

( a ) The word ‘confirm’ in the NT sometimes represents στηρίζω or ἐπιστηρίζω, used of the strengthening of Christians, of love, faith, etc., in  Acts 14:22;  Acts 15:32;  Acts 15:41; cf.  Acts 18:23 (Revised Version‘stablish,’ Authorized Version‘strengthen’). στηρίζω is usually (about 12 times) translated ‘stablish’ or ‘establish’ (in  Luke 16:26 it is used of the ‘fixing’ of a gulf).-( b ) ‘Confirm’ and ‘confirmation’ are used to translate βεβαιόω and βεβαίωσις in  Romans 15:8,  1 Corinthians 1:6;  1 Corinthians 1:8,  Hebrews 2:3;  Hebrews 6:16,  Philippians 1:7,  Mark 16:20, with the same meaning. The same Gr. verb is rendered ‘stablish’ or ‘establish’ in  2 Corinthians 1:21,  Colossians 2:7,  Hebrews 13:9.-( c ) ‘Confirm’ is also the word used for κυρόω or προκυρὁω in connexion with a covenant or will ( Galatians 3:15;  Galatians 3:17, which may refer to what we should call ‘registration’; see W. M. Ramsay, Hist. Com. on Galatians , 1899, p. 354); in  2 Corinthians 2:8 it is used of love.-( d ) In  Titus 3:8 διαβεβαιόω is translated ‘affirm.’ In  Hebrews 6:17 μεσιτεύω is rendered in Authorized Version‘confirm,’ in Revised Versionand AVm[Note: Vm Authorized Version margin.]‘interpose,’ in Revised Version margin ‘mediate.’

For the rite of confirmation, see Baptism, §§ 6, 8.

A. J. Maclean.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

Confirmation . The noun ‘confirmation’ is used only twice in AV [Note: Authorized Version.] (  Philippians 1:7 ,   Hebrews 6:16 ), the reference in the first case being to the establishment of the truth of the gospel, and in the second to the ratification of a statement by an oath. The verb ‘confirm,’ however, is found frequently in both OT and NT, in various shades of meaning, but with the general sense of strengthening and establishing. The only questions of interest are (1) whether ‘confirm’ is used in NT to denote the ecclesiastical rite of Confirmation; and (2) whether that rite is referred to under the ‘laying on of hands.’

1. There are 3 passages in Acts (  Acts 14:22;   Acts 15:32;   Acts 15:41 ) in w hich Paul and Barnabas, or Judas and Silas, or Paul by himself, are said to have confirmed ‘the souls of the disciples,’ ‘the brethren,’ ‘the churches.’ In none of these is there any indication of the performance of a rite, and the natural suggestion is that the word is used simply of a spiritual strengthening.

2. In the ‘Order of Confirmation’ in the Book of Common Prayer, ‘the laying on of hands upon those that are baptized and come to years of discretion,’ as performed by the bishop, is said to be done ‘after the example of Thy holy Apostles.’ Presumably the reference is to such passages as   Acts 8:15-17;   Acts 19:6 ,   Hebrews 6:2 . In the passages in Acts, however, the imposition of hands is associated with the impartation of extraordinary spiritual gifts, while of   Hebrews 6:2 no more can be said than that in the early Church the act appears to have been closely associated with baptism. That it might precede baptism instead of following it is shown by   Acts 9:17-18; which further shows that it might be performed by one who was not an Apostle or even an official of the Church. In all likelihood it was simply a natural and beautiful symbol accompanying prayer (  Acts 8:15 ), which had come down from OT times (  Genesis 48:14 ), and had been used by Christ Himself in the act of blessing (  Matthew 19:13-15 ). See, further, Laying on of Hands.

J. C. Lambert.

King James Dictionary [3]


1. The act of confirming or establishing a fixing, settling, establishing or making more certain or firm establishment.

In the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye are all partakers of my grace.  Philippians 1 .

2. The act of ratifying as the confirmation of a promise, covenant, or stipulation. 3. The act of giving new strength as the confirmation of health. 4. The act of giving new evidence as the confirmation of opinion or report. 5. That which confirms that which gives new strength or assurance additional evidence proof convincing testimony as, this fact or this argument is a confirmation of what was before alleged. 6. In law, an assurance of title, by the conveyance of an estate or right in esse, from one man to another, by which a voidable estate is made sure or unavoidable, or a particular estate is increased, or a possession made perfect. 7. In church affairs, the act of ratifying the election of an archbishop or bishop, by the king, or by persons of his appointment. 8. The act or ceremony of laying on of hands, in the admission of baptized person to the enjoyment of Christian privileges. The person to be confirmed brings his godfather and godmother, and takes upon himself the baptismal vows. This is practiced in the Greek, Roman, and Episcopal churches.

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [4]

The act of establishing any thing or person.

1. Divine confirmation is a work of the Spirit of God, strengthening, comforting, and establishing believers in faith and obedience,  1 Peter 5:10 .  1 Corinthians 1:8 .

2. Ecclesiastical confirmation is a rite whereby a person, arrived to years of discretion, undertakes the performance of every part of the baptismal vow made for him by his godfathers and godmothers. In the primitive church it was done immediately after baptism, if the bishop happened to be present at the solemnity. Throughout the East it still accompanies baptism; but the Romanists make it a distinct independent sacrament. Seven years is the stated time for confirmation; however, they are sometimes after that age. The person to be confirmed has a godfather and godmother appointed him, as in baptism. In the church of England, the age of the persons to be confirmed is not fixed. Clark's Essay on Confirmation; Wood on ditto; How's Episcopacy. p. 167, 174.

Webster's Dictionary [5]

(1): (n.) A conveyance by which a voidable estate is made sure and not voidable, or by which a particular estate is increased; a contract, express or implied, by which a person makes that firm and binding which was before voidable.

(2): (n.) The act of confirming or strengthening; the act of establishing, ratifying, or sanctioning; as, the confirmation of an appointment.

(3): (n.) A rite supplemental to baptism, by which a person is admitted, through the laying on of the hands of a bishop, to the full privileges of the church, as in the Roman Catholic, the Episcopal Church, etc.

(4): (n.) That which confirms; that which gives new strength or assurance; as to a statement or belief; additional evidence; proof; convincing testimony.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [6]

Paul and Barnabas went to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith. Judas and Silas, messengers from Jerusalem to Antioch, being prophets, exhorted the brethren with many words and confirmed them. Again Paul and Silas went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.  Acts 14:22;  Acts 15:32,41 . These passages, with  Acts 18:23 , where the word is translated 'strengthen,' are all the places where the word ἐπιστηρίζω occurs. (There is no idea of any ceremonial, like what is now called 'Confirmation.')

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [7]

(See Baptism .) Laying on hands.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [8]

a rite by which, in some Christian churches, baptized persons are fully admitted into the Church by the imposition of hands and prayer. The Churches which practice this ceremony profess to do it in imitation of apostolic example recorded in the New Testament.

(1.) It appears from the Acts that the apostles laid hands only on baptized persons, as in the case of the converted Samaritans,  Acts 8:12-17, and the disciples at Ephesus,  Acts 19:5-6. It is, however, evident that in those passages, allusion is made to the miraculous gifts imparted by the apostles. It is said that "when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands he may receive the Holy Ghost." Nothing is said of the laying on of hands in the baptism of the three thousand on the day of Pentecost ( Acts 2:38-42). Nor does the ceremony appear to have taken place at the baptism of Lydia and her household,  Acts 16:15; or the Philippian jailer and his family,  Acts 16:31-33. In  Hebrews 6:2, mention is made of "the doctrine of the laying on of hands" immediately after that of "the doctrine of baptisms," but there is no intimation that the two transactions were connected. The journey of St. Paul through Syria and Cilicia to confirm the churches does not necessarily imply the rite of confirmation as practiced by the Church of England. These churches had been probably planted by himself at an earlier period. and he now gives them such regulations as are necessary for their welfare, ordaining elders, imparting miraculous gifts, so important to the instruction of converts, and to the furnishing convincing evidences of the truth and power of the Gospel. The unction, or chrism, referred to in  1 John 2:27, and  2 Corinthians 1:21, has been supposed by some to refer to the ceremony of confirmation; it seems rather to relate to a spiritual anointing, to the royal and priestly dignity of Christians, or to the communication of extraordinary and miraculous gifts.

(2.) As the practice cannot be traced to New-Testament authority, so neither do the earliest records of ecclesiastical antiquity contain any clear and certain testimony concerning it. Passages supposed to refer to this rite have been pointed out in the writings of Dionysius, in the Apostolical Constitutions, in Clement, and in Eusebius; but they rather relate to the sacrament of baptism. Confirmaition in connection with baptism may be traced to the time of Tertullian, who informs us that the ceremonies of unction and the imposition of hands followed immediately after baptism. Cyprian refers to the subject of confirmation, and applies to it the word sacranentum; but it is evident, from the use of the term at the time in which he wrote, and from the scope of the passages in which it occurs, that sacramentum was not used in its strictly theological meaning, but simply in the sense of ceremony.

Numerous references to later writers might be made to show the connection of baptism and confirmation. The baptism of adults being regarded as a solemn compact or covenant, confirmation followed as the seal by which the contract was ratified; and hence confirmation was administered, not by the person officiating, but by the bishop. At the stated baptismal seasons, the bishop was chiefly occupied with the rite of confirmation; but he sometimes commenced the whole solemnity by the baptism of a few individuals with his own hands. When baptism was administered in the absence of the bishop, confirmation was solemnized at some convenient season afterwards, either by the bishop or by his representative. Hence it followed that confirmation was often deferred until several years after baptism, especially in those dioceses which were seldom visited, either on account of their great extent, or the negligence or ignorance of the bishop. Even after the general introduction of infant baptism, confirmation immediately succeeded. In the Oriental churches, baptism, confirmation, and the Lord's Supper are administered in immediate succession; a probable evidence that such was the ancient custom.

(3.) The permanent separation of confirmation from baptism is generally traced to the 13th century. The bishop was, for the most part, the ordinary minister. Several canons deny to the other orders of the clergy the right of confirming; but presbyters appear to have conferred imposition of hands, ( A ) in the absence of the bishop; or, ( B ) in the presence of the bishop, only by his express orders; or, ( C ) on the conversion of a reputed heretic, if such a one, desirous of being received into the church, was at the point of death while the bishop was absent. Deacons were on an equality with presbyters in this respect, until they were absolutely forbidden to administer this rite by the Council of Toledo, A.D. 400.

In the Latin Church, after the separation of confirmation from baptism, a series of preliminary religious exercises was requisite for this rite, similar to those which had been previously required for baptism. Names given in baptism were sometimes changed in confirmation. Sponsors were also required; and a separate edifice in some instances provided, called Consignatorium, Albatorium , and chrismarium. After the disuse of baptisteries, both baptism and confirmation were administered in the church (Farrar; Bingham, Orig. Eccles. bk. 12, ch. 1, 2; Neander, Ch. Hist. 1:316).

Confirmation is a sacrament in the Romish and Greek churches. In the Greek Church confirmation is administered at the same time with, or as soon as possible after, baptism, even in the case of infants, it being considered perilous to die without it; and in the Latin Church also it is often administered to young children the Church of Rome not considering a person a "complete Christian" till he has partaken of this "sacrament." To reconcile this opinion with the salvation of children who die after baptism but before confirmation, or "committing actual sin," the Church of Rome has decided that they are confirmed by death, as they cannot sin afterwards. In England. five centuries ago, children were usually confirmed at the age of five years. The Council of Trent appointed from the age of seven to twelve; and a synod of Milan, in 1565, prohibited confirmation under seven years of age. The canon law fixes no time, but says "of perfect age," which may be interpreted strictly or laxly. The earlier German Reformers rejected it even as a ceremony; but it was restored through the influence of Spener in the 17th century, and is now in use, as a renewal of the baptismal covenant, in the Reformed and Lutheran Churches. In the Church of England, and in the Protestant Episcopal Church, it is a formal rite, administered by the bishop.

These churches direct that the child shall be confirmed "so soon as he can say the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments in the vulgar tongue, and is further instructed in the Church Catechism set forth for that purpose." Bishop Gibson, to elucidate the words "years of discretion," in the Acts 13, 14, Car. II, refers to Lyndwood's Gloss upon Archbishop Walter's Constitutions, which makes the proper age to be above seven and under fourteen. The ritualists and canonists of the English Church generally incline to a tender age. Thus, in reply to Bucer, who "finds fault with our Church for administering confirmation too soon," and says that none ought to be confirmed "who have not had opportunity of giving sufficient testimonies of their faith and desire of living to God by their life and conversation," Wheatly argues that confirmation is administered "to assist them in manifesting their faith and practice, and is not to be deferred till these are already manifested." The rite, he says, is to guard them against sin, before they are exposed to temptation, "that so the Holy Spirit may take early possession of their youthful hearts, and prevent those sins to which, without his assistance, the very tenderness of their age would be apt to expose them." All that the Church demands, he adds, is "that they should understand the nature and advantages of the rite, and the obligations it lays upon them."

The High and Low Church differ as to the essence of confirmation, the latter regarding it as being essentially a personal renewal of the promises made in the name of the subject by others at baptism, while the High-Churchmen look upon it as a kind of sacramental rite for conveying the strengthening power of the Holy Ghost. Some High-Churchmen have therefore maintained that the Roman doctrine of the sacramental character of confirmation (as well as of all the other sacraments of the Church of Rome) may, in some sense, be accepted by the Anglican Church. It is connected with this difference of views as to the sacramental character of confirmation that the High-Churchmen generally urge an earlier (about five or six years) and the LowChurchmen a later age (from fourteen to sixteen), for the performance of the rite. Their difference of opinion became the subject of an animated conference when, a few years ago, bishop Baring, of Durham, refused to confirm any children less than fourteen years of age. See Coleman, Ancient Christianity, ch. 20; Bangs, Original Church, p. 319 (N. Y. 12mo); Burnet, Hist. of Engl. Reformation, 1:466, 583; Wilson, Bampton Lecture, p. 260; Whately, Infant Baptism, p. 36; Schaff, Apostolic Church; Palmer, On the Church; Procter, On Common Prayer; Elliott, Delineation of Romanism. See a list of treatises on catechumens and confirmation in Volbeding's Index Dissertationum, p. 144,145.