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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


HYPOCRITE . This word occurs in the NT only in the Synoptic Gospels; but ‘hypocrisy’ is used in the Epistles ( Galatians 2:13 , 1 Timothy 4:2 , 1 Peter 2:1 ), and the verb ‘to play the hypocrite’ in Luke 20:20 (tr. [Note: translate or translation.] ‘feigned’). The hypocrisy of the Gospels is the ‘appearing before men what one ought to be, but is not, before God.’ At times it is a deliberately played part ( e.g. Matthew 6:2; Matthew 6:5; Matthew 6:16; Matthew 22:18 etc.), at others it is a deception of which the actor himself is unconscious ( e.g. Mark 7:6 , Luke 6:42; Luke 12:56 etc.). Thus, according to Christ, all who play the part of religion, whether consciously or unconsciously, without being religious, are hypocrites; and so fall under His sternest denunciation ( Matthew 23:1-39 ). This meaning of the word has led some to give it the wider interpretation of ‘godlessness’ in some passages ( e.g. Matthew 24:51; cf. Luke 12:46 ); but as there may always be seen in the word the idea of a religious cloak over the godlessness, the ordinary sense should stand.

In the AV [Note: Authorized Version.] of OT ( e.g. Job 8:13 , Isaiah 9:17 ) ‘hypocrite’ is a mistranslation of the Heb. word chânçph . It passed into the AV [Note: Authorized Version.] from the Latin, which followed the Greek Versions. In RV [Note: Revised Version.] it is rendered ‘godless,’ ‘profane.’

Charles T. P. Grierson.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Hypocrite'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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