The Hypocrite

The word hypocrite is based on the Greek theatrical word that means “actor” or “to play a part.” Hypocrites pretend to be something they are not. Psalm 26:4 calls them “false men” (RSV), but in the Gospels the implications are more specific: Hypocrites pretend to be model of righteousness but in reality they are unrighteous to the core. They honor God with their lips, but their heart is far from him (Mk 7:6).

The Pharisees are the classic hypocrites of the Bible.  It’s easy to paint a picture of them from Jesus’ description of them.

  • They are showy when they give money with the intent that people will praise them (Mt 6:2).
  • They pray publicly in a flashy way so people will take note (Mt 6:5).
  • When they fast, they disfigure their faces (Mt 6:16).
  • They tithe their garden produce but neglect “the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith” (Mt 23:23).
  • Jesus says they, “clean the outside of a drinking cup but ignore the filth inside it (Mt 23:25).
  • They are self-righteous (Mt 23:29-30)
  • They teach people false religious beliefs (Mt 23:16-22)
  • They pretend to care about tough issues, but actually want to discredit Jesus (Mt 22:15-22).
  • They prevent people from entering the kingdom of heaven (Mt 23:13-15).
  • Jesus pictures them as “whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Mt 23:27).
  • Jesus says they have a special place in hell (Mt 24:51).

God’s people must constantly beware of the dangers of hypocrisy.

Here are some red flags:

How can a Christ follower avoid hypocrisy?  Six times the New Testament stresses that we live with sincerity, (instead of hypocrisy.)   (Rom. 12:9; 2 Cor. 6:6; 1 Pet. 1:22,1 Tim. 1:5; 2 Tim. 1:5; Jas. 3:17)  

 For more about the series Scary People, go to

Dictionary of Biblical Imagery
Holman Bible Dictionary
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
The AMG Concise Bible Dictionary


About dkoop

Lead Pastor of Upwards Church: Leander & Jarrell, TX
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