Hypocrisy is an outward pretense masking an inner reality. Jesus condemns hypocrisy, especially in matters of faith. Followers of Jesus should express their commitment to God in their words and their deeds, as well as in their inner motivation. There should always be alignment of the heart, the mind and our actions.
Jesus is clear and hates hypocrites. Jesus calls it out all the time. Our contempt allows us to ignore its reality in our lives. I must change my mind (aka repent).
The Greek word is ὑποκριτής (hupŏkritēs, hoop-ok-ree-tace) meaning an actor under an assumed character (stage-player), i.e. a dissembler (“hypocrite”):— hypocrite.
The origin of hypocrisy – Our nature is one that is fallen and we constantly miss God’s goal (aka sin). We try to cover that up by appearing to be a good person. I am not. You are not.
- Jeremiah 17:9 (NASB95) — “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”
- Hosea 10:2 (NASB95) — Their heart is faithless; Now they must bear their guilt. The Lord will break down their altars And destroy their sacred pillars.
- Mark 7:21–22 (NASB95) — 21 “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.
The expression of hypocrisy – Hypocrisy is expressed a number of ways. We have insincere motives, what we do isn’t aligned with what we say or think, and our tendency is to judge others. It comes out it so many not so flattering ways.
Insincere motives and what Jesus thinks about that – This seems pretty clear. Jesus detests hypocrites.
- Matthew 6:2 (NASB95) — 2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
- Matthew 6:5 (NASB95) — 5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
- Matthew 6:16 (NASB95) — 16 “Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
- Matthew 15:7–9 (NASB95) — 7 “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: 8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. 9 ‘But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ ”
- Matthew 22:18 (NASB95) — 18 But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites?
- Matthew 23:5–7 (NASB95) — 5 “But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. 6 “They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men.
When deeds do not match words
- Isaiah 29:13 (NASB95) — 13 Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,
- Matthew 15:7–8 (NASB95) — 7 “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: 8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me.
- Proverbs 26:24–26 (NASB95) — 24 He who hates disguises it with his lips, But he lays up deceit in his heart. 25 When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, For there are seven abominations in his heart. 26 Though his hatred covers itself with guile, His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly.
- Jeremiah 9:8 (NASB95) — 8 “Their tongue is a deadly arrow; It speaks deceit; With his mouth one speaks peace to his neighbor, But inwardly he sets an ambush for him.
- Jeremiah 12:2 (NASB95) — 2 You have planted them, they have also taken root; They grow, they have even produced fruit. You are near to their lips But far from their mind.
- Ezekiel 33:31 (NASB95) — 31 “They come to you as people come, and sit before you as My people and hear your words, but they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires expressed by their mouth, and their heart goes after their gain.
- Matthew 23:28 (NASB95) — 28 “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
- Romans 2:17–24 (NASB95) — 17 But if you bear the name “Jew” and rely upon the Law and boast in God, 18 and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, 19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, 21 you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? 24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” just as it is written.
- James 2:14–26 (NASB95) — 14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
A tendency to judge others
- Matthew 7:5 (NASB95) — 5 “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
- Romans 2:1 (NASB95) — 1 Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.
The alternative to hypocrisy
- Hebrews 10:22 (NASB95) — 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
- Psalm 24:3–4 (NASB95) — 3 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully.
- Psalm 26:4 (NASB95) — 4 I do not sit with deceitful men, Nor will I go with pretenders.
- Psalm 32:2 (NASB95) — 2 How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!
- James 3:17 (NASB95) — 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.
- James 4:8 (NASB95) — 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
- 1 Peter 2:1–3 (NASB95) — 1 Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
Hypocrisy is not to be found in leaders
- 1 Chronicles 28:8–9 (NASB95) — 8 “So now, in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God, observe and seek after all the commandments of the Lord your God so that you may possess the good land and bequeath it to your sons after you forever. 9 “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.
- Malachi 2:6 (NASB95) — 6 “True instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity.
- 1 Corinthians 4:1–5 (NASB95) — 1 Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of the Messiah and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. 3 But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. 4 For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. 5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.
- 1 Timothy 3:8 (NASB95) — 8 Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain,
- Titus 1:8 (NASB95) — 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled,
- James 3:1 (NASB95) — 1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.
Examples of hypocrites
- Jeremiah 6:13 (NASB95) — 13 “For from the least of them even to the greatest of them, Everyone is greedy for gain, And from the prophet even to the priest Everyone deals falsely.
- Jeremiah 8:8 (NASB95) — 8 “How can you say, ‘We are wise, And the law of the Lord is with us’? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes Has made it into a lie.
- Mark 12:38–40 (NASB95) — 38 In His teaching He was saying: “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the market places, 39 and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, 40 who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation.”
- Matthew 23:1–32 (NASB95) — 1 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, 2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; 3 therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. 4 “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. 5 “But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. 6 “They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. 8 “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. 11 “But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. 13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation. 15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. 16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’ 17 “You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? 18 “And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’ 19 “You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? 20 “Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. 21 “And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. 22 “And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it. 23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. 24 “You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26 “You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. 29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 “So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 “Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers.
- Luke 12:1–2 (NASB95) — 1 Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.
- Luke 12:56 (NASB95) — 56 “You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time?
Peter and Barnabas
By acting in this way, Peter was denying his own conviction that Gentiles could be saved by faith without having to submit to the law.
- Galatians 2:12–13 (NASB95) — 12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. 13 The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.
Many false teachers
- Romans 16:17–18 (NASB95) — 17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Master the Messiah but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.
- Philippians 1:17 (NASB95) — 17 the former proclaim the Messiah out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.
- 1 Timothy 4:2 (NASB95) — 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,
- 2 Timothy 3:5 (NASB95) — 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.
- Jude 16 (NASB95) — 16 These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.
Examples of those who did not practise hypocrisy
Jesus the Messiah
- 1 Peter 2:21–22 (NASB95) — 21 For you have been called for this purpose, since the Messiah also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth;
- Isaiah 53:9 (NASB95) — 9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
- John 8:44–46 (NASB95) — 44 “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 “But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 “Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?
Paul and his companions
- 2 Corinthians 1:12 (NASB95) — 12 For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.
- 2 Corinthians 2:17 (NASB95) — 17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the Messiah in the sight of God.
- 1 Thessalonians 2:3–10 (NASB95) — 3 For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. 5 For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness— 6 nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of the Messiah we might have asserted our authority. 7 But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. 8 Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. 9 For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers;