As I’ve mentioned before, I believe that one of the best ways to understand Scripture is to first understand the Teachings of the Catholic Church, which are the basis of the New Testament. It is upon these Oral Teachings of Jesus Christ which are passed down by the Church, which are the bedrock of the New Testament. That is why the Church says:
83 The Tradition here in question comes from the apostles and hands on what they received from Jesus' teaching and example and what they learned from the Holy Spirit. The first generation of Christians did not yet have a written New Testament, and the New Testament itself demonstrates the process of living Tradition.
Tradition is to be distinguished from the various theological, disciplinary, liturgical or devotional traditions, born in the local churches over time. These are the particular forms, adapted to different places and times, in which the great Tradition is expressed. In the light of Tradition, these traditions can be retained, modified or even abandoned under the guidance of the Church's Magisterium.
113 2. Read the Scripture within "the living Tradition of the whole Church". According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church's heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God's Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture (". . . according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church").
And so, let’s begin to find the Sacrament of Confirmation, in the Bible, in light of Catholic Teaching:
Receive the Holy Spirit
In this verse, Jesus is speaking to the Apostles whom He had baptized in the Jordan:
John 20:22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
He, was therefore, confirming them in the faith at that time. Related to this is the following:
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
In the Pentecost, the Apostles were confirmed in the faith.
The definition of the Sacrament of Confirmation is:
CCC#1293 In treating the rite of Confirmation, it is fitting to consider the sign of anointing and what it signifies and imprints: a spiritual seal.
Anointing, in Biblical and other ancient symbolism, is rich in meaning: oil is a sign of abundance and joy; it cleanses (anointing before and after a bath) and limbers (the anointing of athletes and wrestlers); oil is a sign of healing, since it is soothing to bruises and wounds; and it makes radiant with beauty, health, and strength.
Note what St. John says in this verse:
1 John 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
Do you see how closely they track each other? Therefore, I believe this is a direct reference to the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Baptism and laying of hands
This next verse pretty well speaks for itself:
Acts 8:14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
Doctrine of Baptisms
This one needs a bit of explanation. St. Paul speaks of a Doctrine of Baptisms.
Hebrews 6:2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
What is that? Let me see if I can explain.
The Catholic Church teaches that the Sacraments are all works of the Holy Spirit, wherein, He washes us in Sanctifying Grace.
1084 "Seated at the right hand of the Father" and pouring out the Holy Spirit on his Body which is the Church, Christ now acts through the sacraments he instituted to communicate his grace. The sacraments are perceptible signs (words and actions) accessible to our human nature. By the action of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit they make present efficaciously the grace that they signify.
Therefore, in a sense, all the Sacraments can be described as baptisms. Because the Holy Spirit is poured out upon us through them.
Does anyone deny that all the Sacraments can be described as “outpourings of the Holy Spirit”? In St. Paul’s mind, the Doctrine of Baptisms is euphemism for the Seven Sacraments. Well, to be more precise, the word Sacrament had not yet been coined, so St. Paul was describing the Sacraments in the only way that he could do so, at the time.
Ok, so what did St. Paul mean in Hebrews 6:2?
Let’s start with Hebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
Here we go. Remember that St. Paul is himself a Hebrew and speaks in typical Hebrew redundancies:
1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ,
If you’ve read the previous chapter, you know that he is speaking to and scolding his flock because they have learned the basics of Christian doctrine, but have not gone beyond that point. He has said that they are like babes in the faith, who still drink milk and do not yet chew on real meat.
let us go on unto perfection;
So, he urges that they begin to move to perfection in the Faith of Christ.
not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works,
And although he says he shouldn’t have to teach them the basics, he begins to enumerate the basics. Like repentance for sins (i.e. dead works).
and of faith toward God
and to turn to God with faith.
2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands,
And then he mentions the Sacraments. He uses the word “baptisms” because it is a very concise description of all the Sacraments. All the Sacraments are “outpourings of the Holy Spirit”. At a time when the word, “sacrament” was not yet coined, “baptisms” was a very clear description of that which happens in the Sacraments. But, then he uses a very specific description for the Sacrament of Confirmation. The laying on of hands.
1288 "From that time on the apostles, in fulfillment of Christ's will, imparted to the newly baptized by the laying on of hands the gift of the Spirit that completes the grace of Baptism. For this reason in the Letter to the Hebrews the doctrine concerning Baptism and the laying on of hands is listed among the first elements of Christian instruction. The imposition of hands is rightly recognized by the Catholic tradition as the origin of the sacrament of Confirmation, which in a certain way perpetuates the grace of Pentecost in the Church."
and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
In order that you might rise again and stand with a clean conscience before God, in the final Judgment.
I hope that helps. If anyone knows of any other instances of the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Bible, let me know in the comments.