From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]


‘Hypocrisy’ (ὑτόκρισις, ‘hypocrite’ (ὑτοκριτής), ‘act the hypocrite’ (ὑτοκρίνομαι). In the NT the verb appears only in  Luke 20:20; ὑτοκριτής only in the Synopp., but fifteen times in Mt. alone; ὑτόρισις once in Mt. ( Matthew 23:28), once in Mk. ( Mark 12:15), once in Lk. ( Luke 12:1), and also in  Galatians 2:13,  1 Timothy 4:2;  1 Peter 2:1. The root meaning of the word is to distinguish between things . From this it early came to mean to answer, and to interpret, dreams. By what link of association it came to be applied to declamation is less easy to determine. In this sense it is used by the Attic writers of orators and rhapsodists as well as of actors. Soon it was restricted to declamation on the stage, and then, by a process repeated in other languages, was used for acting a part, and so for acting a part for a base end, for giving oneself out to be what one knew one ought to be, but had no intention of becoming.

In the Apocr. [Note: Apocrypha, Apocryphal.] the word is found in this sense of acting a part, of feigning, and with varying shades of moral obliquity. In  2 Maccabees 6:21-25, Eleazar is urged to eat his own meat while feigning to eat the swine’s flesh appointed by the king. Though the deception is urged as legitimate, Eleazar’s reply shows that the word already had bad associations. Similarly  4 Maccabees 6:17. In  Sirach 32:15, as the opposite to fearing God and seeking the law, it is used almost exactly as in the NT. The LXX Septuagint uses the word in  Job 34:30;  Job 36:13, to translate חָנִף. In the first passage, it is an impiety which lays snares; in the second, it is an impiety of the heart which cherishes an inward bitterness against God. Here we have the true ancestry of the NT usage, which always includes the idea of impiety, of shutting out God and resolutely living in the darkness apart from Him. But the NT usage is also influenced by חָלַק, though the LXX Septuagint translates that word by δολιοῦν or δολοῦν. From the root idea of smoothness it came to be employed for flattery, and so for all kinds of evil deception. The kinship of the two words חָנֵף and חָלַק may be seen in  Daniel 11:32, where those who are basely disloyal to the covenant expose themselves to the danger of being led into a false position towards God by smooth deceits.

Yet the conception of this vice in the popular mind of His time, to which our Lord appealed, was less determined by any particular Hebrew word than by the general teaching of the OT. The hypocrites speak with a double heart ( Psalms 12:2). They have smooth lips, and their profession is far beyond their performance ( Psalms 12:3). They imagine that wickedness can be shut up in the heart. They are brazen towards God, and deceitful towards men. They cease to hate evil and take to planning it ( Psalms 36:1-4). Above all, they attempt to deceive God ( Psalms 78:36) Hypocrisy is a thing God cannot tolerate ( Job 22:16), and which He is continually exposing ( Job 5:13). Idolatry is a sort of hypocrisy from which a man can keep by being perfect, i.e. whole-hearted, with the Lord his God ( Deuteronomy 18:13). The classical passage for a hypocrisy that practises the ceremonies and knows none of the duties of religion is Isaiah 1, but nearly every prophet has occasion to speak against the evil. All false prophecy was hypocrisy—the saying of the thing that pleased, and not of the thing that was true. The person most deceived was the hypocrite himself ( Isaiah 33:14-15,  Job 27:8), but he was also a danger to the society in which he lived ( Job 15:34). To all the true prophets he was the supreme danger to the State.

The Talmud lays the same stress upon hypocrisy, as the opposite of faith in God. ‘There are four who cannot appear before God—the scoffer, the hypocrite, the liar, and the slanderer’—all vices of falsehood. ‘God hates him who speaks one way with the mouth and another way with the heart.’ ‘A society which has hypocrites for its members is abominable and falls into exile.’

Hypocrisy was plainly no new vice in our Lord’s time, but an ancient heritage into which the Pharisees entered. How, then, are we to account for the sudden prominence to which it is raised? No vice is held up to such unenviable notoriety in the Synoptics, no other combated with the same direct denunciation, while in John τὸ ψεῦδος is a conception only a little wider than ὑπόκρισις, and has the same condemnation. First of all, just because it is a sin of deception, it is mercilessly exposed, as if our Lord would give a practical demonstration that there is nothing hidden that shall not be made known. A sin which glories in misleading an opponent by smooth flatteries ( Matthew 22:15), which goes about in long robes and seeks to be reverenced by public salutations, which takes its honour for granted and cloaks oppressive avarice with long prayers ( Mark 12:38-40), which cleanses the outside of the cup and platter while leaving them full of extortion and wickedness, which makes men hidden tombs, fair without and foul within ( Luke 11:44), is met, as no other sin can be, by exposure.

Then the sin which lives by corrupting the conscience has cut itself off from the usual appeal of holiness and love by which our Lord seeks to win men from other sins. It substitutes traditional practices for living duties ( Matthew 15:6); it uses minutiae of ecclesiastical rule as a substitute for judgment and the love of God ( Luke 11:42); it cannot receive the truth, because its eye is on man and not on God ( John 5:44); it makes inquiries not in order to believe the truth, but in order to refute it ( John 9:27-28); and it is chained to its error by a confident assurance that it alone is right ( John 9:41). The only way of appeal left is direct denunciation.

Further, sin is, in a pre-eminent degree, the foe of all truth. The hypocrite is in a special sense the child of the father of lies ( John 8:44). Hypocrisy is not a mere sin of impulse, but is the opposite of everything by which we may lay hold of truth and be delivered. As surely as faith reaches out towards truth, hypocrisy struggles against it. Not being able to live with truth, it can defend itself only by persecution. ‘Ye seek to kill me because my word hath not free course in you’ ( John 8:37). The same spirit made their fathers kill the prophets as a natural consequence of rejecting their message, and it is only another hypocrisy which makes the descendants repudiate their fathers’ deeds while cherishing their fathers’ spirit. The justification for the terrible assault on the Pharisees in Matthew 23, is that, sitting in Moses’ seat, they show a spirit with which truth cannot dwell. The deep shadow is always in the bright sunlight, and the deep corruption is always in the place of opportunity. The Pharisees neither enter the Kingdom nor suffer others to enter. They are abundantly zealous, but in a bad cause. They pervert truth, debase it, fight against it. No appeal can touch them, and in the end their house is left to them desolate.

Then the evil of hypocrisy is more than negative. It does not stop with pretending to need signs, while it pays no attention to the evidence it has, and would be convinced by no evidence ( Matthew 16:3-4). Hypocrisy is also an active leaven—a dangerous assimilative principle—against the corruption of which no warning can be too ample. It is more than the shadow of truth, the absence of faith. It definitely works to debase the whole man, just as faith works to regenerate him. In addition to refusing to enter in, it takes away the key of knowledge ( Luke 11:52). Against everything connected with the Kingdom of Heaven it is actively hostile.

In the Sermon on the Mount ( Matthew 6:1 ff.) hypocrisy is set over against the Kingdom of Heaven as its opposite and its negation. In the realm of hypocrisy appearances meet every requirement; in the Kingdom of Heaven all is judged by the heart. Christ says, the issues of life are out of the heart alone; hypocrisy says, they are mainly out of ceremonies. Of the whole standard of the Kingdom of Heaven hypocrisy is the daily practical denial—its broad result being the external righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, without exceeding which we shall in no wise enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. So alien is the whole unreal pretence of religion, that there is a good secrecy at the other extreme from it. Deliberate care must be taken that one’s righteousness be not done in the public eye. Not only is no trumpet to be sounded before us in the street; our praise is not even to find an echo in our own heart. Not only may prayer never be used for show; true prayer is with ourselves and our Father in secret alone. Not only may we not fast with a sad countenance; the head is to be anointed and the face washed as on a day of festival. Hypocrisy is the opposite of that singleness of eye which fills the whole body with light; it turns the light that is in a man to darkness. It attempts to serve two masters while serving none. It sees motes in its brother’s eye while ignoring beams in its own. It is in sheep’s clothing without, and a ravening wolf within. It is the shadow of the light, the enemy of the truth. It is most of all hostile to the Kingdom of Heaven, just because that is the fullest light and the highest truth. Nor is that all. Hypocrisy, as the opposite and negation of the Kingdom of Heaven, is as ready to corrupt Christianity as it was to corrupt Judaism. Even Christ’s name it is capable of turning into a substitute, not a synonym, for the will of the Father.

From all other vices men are delivered by the life of faith. For this reason our Lord never directly assails vices of impulse. The publican and the harlot He treated as the lost sheep He had come to seek. For them He set wide the door of the Kingdom. But the door, He knew, could never be made so narrow that the hypocrites would not at least appear to enter. The new hypocrisy will be to come in Christ’s name, saying, ‘I am he’ ( Mark 13:6). Under that guise it will hide itself so dexterously as almost to deceive the elect; and it will use its opportunity, as hypocrisy has always done, to strangle truth by persecution. Just because hypocrisy is thus an enemy in the camp poisoning the wells, our Lord deals with it openly, directly, negatively, by the method of denunciation, as with no other form of evil.

The supreme evil of hypocrisy, as the negation of the life of faith, appears still more clearly in what our Lord says about the eternal sin. In John unbelief is spoken of as the abiding sin. ‘For if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins’ ( Mark 8:24). Yet, from the context, it is apparent that the abiding evil is not the act of unbelief, but the absence of all love of the truth, of which the unbelief is the evidence. Christ came that the thoughts of many hearts should be revealed ( Luke 2:35), and those who had cherished evil were as conspicuously displayed as those who had cherished good. The publican and the harlot who had secretly thirsted after righteousness came to be shown to have faith, though all appearances were against them; the Pharisee who had used his religious position to cover worldly ends was shown to want it, though all appearances were in his favour. While the publican came to the light, the Pharisee hated the truth and sought to repress it, and to do so sought to destroy Him who spoke the truth. Thus he showed himself of his father the devil, who from the beginning was a murderer as well as the father of lies. Here in John then we have juggling with truth, hypocrisies before God and the world and one’s own soul, set forth as the cardinal sin which relates us as certainly to the spirit of evil as faith does to the spirit of good, and which works in hate, as surely as goodness works in love, and which leaves men to die in their sins, because it is hostile to all that could lead to penitence and pardon.

All this is in essential agreement with what the Synoptics say of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost ( Matthew 12:22-37,  Mark 3:20-30,  Luke 12:1-12). The Pharisees had reached a turning-point in their opposition. They believed in miracles, they looked for signs. The miracle could no longer be questioned, but they could call it a sign of Beelzebub. Though unable to deny either the power or the beneficence of Christ’s work, being resolved not to accept the practical consequences of belief, they call light darkness and good evil. The actual sin against the Holy Ghost, therefore, is possible only when face to face with the highest thing in religion and its clearest evidence, but the danger of coming to that point is present in all hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is ever an overweening pride, denying to other men the right to truth, and to God His power to see; and the eternal sin is only the finished result of what is always present in it. This connexion is most evident in the narrative of Luke, which begins with a warning against the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy. Nothing, it is said, can be covered, and the hypocrite has power to do only one great evil—to associate others in his spiritual destruction. Faith in the God who cares even for the sparrow can alone preserve from this fatal vice, a clear indication that hypocrisy is the negation of faith, or at least that faith is the negation of hypocrisy. The natural outcome of faith is confession before men, and the accompaniment of that is Divine protection until the day of the final award. On the other hand, to follow hypocrisy is to go the road that leads to the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost—the state of mind that has so juggled with good and evil that good has no power over it, the sin which no change of dispensation, or perhaps nothing in eternity any more than in time, can modify. This may be most apparent in Luke, but in Mark and Matthew also the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, and the sin which is eternal is not an act of oversight or passion, but an irremediable state which could be reached only by a finished, proud, and tyrannical hypocrisy. See Unpardonable Sin.

In every form of evil, as Martensen rightly affirms, hypocrisy is present in a partial form. All sin is egoistic, yet every man depends on society—the sinner not least. Under some pretence of goodness alone can the egoist enter society. The seducer must swear false oaths, the deceiver feign friendship, the tyrant profess care for the commonweal. A finished life of wickedness would be one great lie, which would be the only ultimate form of atheism. And just because a God of truth cannot for ever be denied, hypocrisy conies to be more and more a spirit of hatred and opposition to truth. Thus it is, more even than habit , the cumulative element in devotion to evil. It is not only the greatest practical denial of God, it is also the greatest practical alienation from God. To be reconciled to God is primarily to be restored to truth. Wherefore hypocrisy may be taken not only as the negation of all Christ taught of God, but also as the negation of all Christ did to reconcile men to the Father, the negation of His work as a Saviour as well as of His work as a Revealer.

Throughout all the Christian centuries, wherever there has been a lively sense of the reality of Christianity, there has also been a lively sense of this shadow following the sun. The classical example of lying to the Holy Ghost found its occasion in the first flush of the Church’s faith and love (Acts 5). The first great division of parties arose through the same vice, and arose almost with the Church’s beginnings. The extreme bitterness of the Judaistic party was nourished by that external view of religion which could regard a ceremony as essential, and hatred as if it were godliness. Even Barnabas was almost carried away by their hypocrisy ( Galatians 2:13), showing how the vice seeks to deceive, if possible, the elect; while their attempts to suppress Paul were limited only by their power and never by their scruples—showing that it is a vice which always persecutes as well as perverts. All the errors which cause men to fall away from the faith are, already in the NT, ascribed to the hypocrisy of men that speak lies ( 1 Timothy 4:2). Regarding this root of error in moral falsehood, and not in mere intellectual mistake, much might be said, but it must suffice to mention what Augustine says of Manichaeism. Long his difficulties seemed to him intellectual perplexity about the origin of evil. When, however, he saw that wickedness was no substance, but a perversity of the will, he discovered the true root of the error. ‘They preferred to think Thy substance did suffer ill, than that their own did commit it’ ( Conf . vii. 4).

That, as our Lord predicted, hypocrisy has continued to work under the New Dispensation as under the Old, may be seen from the state of things in the Eastern Church as pictured by Eustathius, in the Western as drawn by Dante and Chaucer, and in later times as reflected in a literature too abundant and familiar to require to be named.

Literature.—Hamburger, RE , 1884, art. ‘Heuchelei,’ vol. i. p. 515; Cremer, Bibl.-Theol. Wörterbuch 3 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] p. 527; L. Lemme, Die Sunde wider den Heiligen Geist , 1883, and art. ‘Heuchelei’ in PR E [Note: RE Real-Encyklopädie fur protest. Theologic und Kirche.] 3 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] : J. M. Schulhof, The Law of Forgiveness as presented in the NT , 1901, pp. 43–48; Martensen, Christian Ethics , 1st Div. ‘Individual Ethics,’ 1881 [English translation], pp. 114–118; Eustathii Opuscula , ed. by Tafel; Exiles of Eternity , by J. S. Carroll, 1903; Mozley, Univ. Serm. Serm, ii.; Seeley, Ecce Homo , 116 ff., 253 ff.

John Oman.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [2]

Although no distinct Hebrew word for hypocrisy occurs in the Old Testament, the concept does—primarily in terms of insincere worship. The Lord rejects sacrificial offerings and temple attendance ( Jeremiah 7:4-11 ) when worshipers have no intimate knowledge of him or genuine love ( Isaiah 1:11-17;  Hosea 6:4-6;  Amos 4:4-5;  5:21-24 ). Hypocrisy manifests itself in an inconsistency between external religious activity and religious profession ( Isaiah 1:10-17 ).

The root idea in the Old Testament may be that the hypocrite has a godless heart ( Job 36:13 LXX hypocrites for Heb. hanep [   Jeremiah 7:21-24;  Hosea 7:13-16;  8:1-2; cf.  Jeremiah 6:19-20 ) and generates wrongful Acts, including injustice and oppression ( Isaiah 1:10-17;  58:2-7;  59:2-4,13-15;  Jeremiah 7:5 ). In contrast, the true worshiper must come before the Lord with a pure heart ( Psalm 15:2;  24:4 ). The hypocrite is also an ungodly rebel who flatters and deceives with his or her tongue ( Psalm 5:9-10;  12:2-4;  78:36-37;  Daniel 11:21,27; cf.  Psalm 55:20-21 ) to promote godlessness ( Daniel 11:32,34 ).

The New Testament seems to combine the Old Testament concept of the godless rebel and the Attic Greek hypokrisis [   Matthew 23:5 ). Hypocrites make an outward show of religion, whether in giving alms, praying, or fasting. The English concept of hypocrisy as failing to practice what one preaches is rarely found ( Matthew 23:3 ).

The hypocrite is self-deluded by his or her own pretension, which fools no one else ( Matthew 7:5;  Luke 6:42 ). Hypocrisy may involve a failure to discern spiritual truth ( Luke 12:54-56;  13:15; cf.  Matthew 12:7;  23:23 ) or even a willful blindness to spiritual matters ( Matthew 23:17,19,23-24,26 ).

The hypocrite pretends goodness, but beneath a religious veneer is a malicious or deceitful heart ( Matthew 22:15-18; cf.  1 Peter 2:1 ). Though hypocrites justify their religious activity, their hearts are not true to God ( Matthew 15:7-9,18-19; cf.  Isaiah 29:13-14 ). As in the Old Testament a discrepancy exists between outward conformity to religious ritual and the true state of their hearts ( Matthew 23:25-30; contrast 5:8). Thus, the term "hypocrite" ( Matthew 24:51 ) can occur as a synonym for "unfaithful/unbeliever." Such "hypocrites" hinder others from coming to Christ and even make converts to their godless lifestyle ( Matthew 23:13,15; cf.  Daniel 11:32,34 ). Or they deceive others into doctrinal error ( 1 Timothy 4:1-2 ). Thus hypocrisy is implied as one of the evidences of earthly or demonic wisdom ( James 3:13-17 ).

The absence of hypocrisy (genuine faith and sincere love from a pure heart) is a mark of godly character ( 1 Timothy 1:5;  2:5,7; cf.  Psalm 15:2-5;  24:3-5; 2Col 6:6-7).

Greg W. Parsons

Bibliography . U. Becker and H.-G. Link, NIDNTT, 2:467-74; H. L. Ellison, New Bible Dictionary, p. 502; D. A. Hubbard, EDT, p. 539.

Holman Bible Dictionary [3]

In the Bible the negative meaning prevails. Often hypocrisy refers to evil or sin in general, not pretense in particular. In the Old Testament, “hypocrite” was used by the King James Version whereas later translations (e.g. Rsv, Niv ) often use “godless” or “ungodly” ( Job 8:13;  Job 15:34-35;  Job 17:8;  Isaiah 9:17;  Isaiah 33:14 , etc.). This “godless” person was totally opposed to God or forgetful of God. The Hebrew word often translated “hypocrite” referred to pollution or corruption. Although the Hebrews were concerned about pretense or insincerity ( Isaiah 29:13;  Jeremiah 12:2 ), there is no one Hebrew word exactly equivalent to “hypocrisy.”

Hypocrisy in the narrower sense of playing a role is highlighted in the New Testament, especially in the teaching of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels. Jesus criticized hypocrites for being pious in public ( Matthew 6:2 ,Matthew 6:2, 6:5 ,Matthew 6:5, 6:16 ). They were more interested in human praise when they gave alms, prayed, and fasted than in God's reward. Hypocrites were also guilty of being judgmental of others' faults and ignoring their own ( Matthew 7:1-5 ). Jesus often called the Pharisees hypocrites because of the conflict between their external actions and internal attitudes ( Matthew 15:1-9 ). Their true attitudes would be revealed ( Luke 12:1-3 ). The hypocrites could interpret the weather but not the signs of the times ( Luke 12:56 ). They were more concerned about the rules for the Sabbath than a woman's physical health ( Luke 13:15 ). Luke noted that the religious leaders pretended to be sincere when they asked Jesus about paying tribute to Caesar ( Luke 20:20 ). Probably the most famous discussion of hypocrisy is  Matthew 23:1 . The religious leaders did not practice what they preached ( Matthew 23:3 ). Jesus compared them to dishes that were clean on the outside and dirty on the inside and to whitewashed tombs ( Matthew 23:25-28 ).

Hypocrisy is a concern throughout the New Testament. Although the term does not occur, it was part of the sin of Ananias and Sapphira ( Acts 5:1-11 ). Paul accused Peter of hypocrisy for refusing to eat with Gentile Christians in Antioch ( Galatians 2:12-13 ). Paul warned Timothy about hypocritical false teachers ( 1 Timothy 4:2 ). Peter included hypocrisy as one of the attitudes Christians should avoid ( 1 Peter 2:1 ).

Six times New Testament writers stress that sincerity (without hypocrisy, anupokritos) should characterize the Christian. Christian love ( Romans 12:9;  2 Corinthians 6:6;  1 Peter 1:22 ), faith ( 1 Timothy 1:5;  2 Timothy 1:5 ), and wisdom ( James 3:17 ) should be sincere. See Lie; Pharisees; Sin; Truth .

Warren McWilliams

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [4]

Is a seeming or professing to be what in truth and reality we are not. It consists in assuming a character which we are conscious does not belong to us, and by which we intentionally impose upon the judgment and opinion of mankind concerning us. The name is borrowed from the Greek tongue, in which it primarily signifies the profession of a stage player, which is to express in speech, habit, and action, not his own person and manners, but his whom he undertakes to represent. And so it is; for the very essence of hypocrisy lies in apt imitation and decent; in acting the part of a member of Christ without any saving grace. The hypocrite is a double person; he has one person, which is natural; another, which is artificial: the first he keeps to himself; the other he puts on as he doth his clothes, to make his appearance in before men. It was ingeniously said by Basil. "that the hypocrite has not put off the old man, but put on the new upon it."

Hypocrites have been divided into four sorts.

1. the worldly hypocrite, who makes a profession of religion, and pretends to be religious, merely from worldly considerations,  Matthew 23:5

2. The legal hypocrite, who relinquishes his vicious practices, in order thereby to merit heaven, while at the same time he has no real love to God,  Romans 10:3

3. The evangelical hypocrite, whose religion is nothing more than a bare conviction of sin; who rejoices under the idea that Christ died for him, and yet has no desire to live a holy life,  Matthew 13:20 .  2 Peter 2:20

4. the enthusiastic hypocrite, who has an imaginary sight of his sin, and of Christ; talks of remarkable impulses and high feelings; and thinks himself very wise and good while he lives in the most scandalous practices,  Matthew 13:39 .  2 Corinthians 11:14 .

Crook on Hypocrisy; Decoetlegon's Sermon on  Psalms 51:6 . Grove's Mor. Phil. vol. 2: p. 253. South's Ser. on  Job 8:1-22;  Job 9:1-35;  Job 10:1-22;  Job 11:1-20;  Job 12:1-25;  Job 13:1-28;  Job 14:1-22;  Job 15:1-35;  Job 16:1-22;  Job 17:1-16;  Job 18:1-21;  Job 19:1-29;  Job 20:1-29;  Job 21:1-34;  Job 22:1-13 . vol. 10; Bellamy's Relig. Del. p. 166.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [5]

Jesus repeatedly condemned the Jewish religious leaders of his time as hypocrites, because though they were outwardly religious, inwardly they were ungodly ( Matthew 22:18;  Matthew 23:25;  Mark 7:6-8;  Mark 12:15). They had no knowledge of God and his teaching, and could not see their own sin. They thought that their show of religion would impress people and please God, but it brought instead condemnation from Jesus ( Matthew 6:2-5;  Matthew 23:13-36;  Luke 12:56). While pretending to be sincere, they had evil motives ( Luke 20:19-20; cf.  1 Timothy 4:2). Their hypocrisy was, in fact, malice (cf.  Mark 12:15 with  Matthew 22:18; see Malice ).

God’s people must constantly beware of the dangers of hypocrisy. It shows itself in many ways, as, for example, when people accuse others of what they are guilty of themselves ( Matthew 7:5;  Luke 13:15;  Romans 2:1-3;  Romans 2:19-24). It shows itself also when people flatter others, or when they change their stated opinions solely to please others ( Psalms 12:3-4;  Galatians 2:13). All insincerity, whether in speech or actions, is hypocrisy ( 1 Peter 2:1). Christians can learn to overcome it through practising genuine love and developing a sensitive conscience ( Romans 12:9;  Romans 14:13;  1 Timothy 1:5).

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [6]

1: Ὑπόκρισις (Strong'S #5272 — Noun Feminine — hupokrisis — hoop-ok'-ree-sis )

primarily denotes "a reply, an answer" (akin to hupokrinomai, "to answer"); then, "play-acting," as the actors spoke in dialogue; hence, "pretence, hypocrisy;" it is translated "hypocrisy" in  Matthew 23:28;  Mark 12:15;  Luke 12:1;  1—Timothy 4:2; the plural in  1—Peter 2:1 . For  Galatians 2:13 and anupokritos, "without hypocrisy," in   James 3:17 , see Dissimulation.

Charles Spurgeon's Illustration Collection [7]

In the olden times even the best rooms were usually of bare brick or stone, damp, and moldy, but over these in great houses when the family was resident, were hung up arras or hangings of rich materials, between which and the wall persons might conceal themselves, so that literally walls had ears. It is to be feared that many a brave show of godliness is but an arras to conceal rank hypocrisy; and this accounts for some men's religion being but occasional, since it is folded up or exposed to view as need may demand. Is there no room for conscience to pry between thy feigned profession and thy real ungodliness, and bear witness against thee? Remember, if conscience do it not, certainly 'the watcher and the Holy One' will make a thorough search within thee.

King James Dictionary [8]

HYPOC'RISY, n. L. hypocrisis Gr. simulation to feign to separate, discern or judge.

1. Simulation a feigning to be what one is not or dissimulation, a concealment of one's real character or motives. More generally, hypocrisy is simulation, or the assuming of a false appearance of virtue or religion a deceitful show of a good character, in morals or religion a counterfeiting of religion.

Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.  Luke 12 .

2. Simulation deceitful appearance false pretence.

Hypocrisy is the necessary burden of villainy.

Webster's Dictionary [9]

(n.) The act or practice of a hypocrite; a feigning to be what one is not, or to feel what one does not feel; a dissimulation, or a concealment of one's real character, disposition, or motives; especially, the assuming of false appearance of virtue or religion; a simulation of goodness.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [10]

( Ὑπόκρισις ; but in  James 5:12, two words, Ὑπὸ Κρίσιν , as the A.V. justly) is the name for the successful or unsuccessful endeavor of a person to impart to others, by the expression of his features or, gestures, by his outward actions, and, in fine, by his whole appearance, a favorable opinion of his principles, his good intentions, love, unselfishness, truthfulness, and conscientiousness while in reality these qualities are wanting in him. It is, therefore, a peculiar kind of untruthfulness, which has its definite aims and means. It is precisely because these aims refer to the moral qualifications of the subject, because he speaks and acts as if an honest man, that hypocrisy has found room and opportunity in social life, in commerce and industry, in politics, and, above all, in the field of revealed religion. This may appear paradoxical, because this as well as the religion of the old covenant, places man before the face of an almighty Being who sees the heart, and who penetrates human thought even from its very beginning; who perceives clearly its development and ripening; so that the hypocrite, even if he should succeed in deceiving men, can certainly have no benefit from his acts in the end.

On the other hand, because religion consists not entirely in the performance of outward actions, but makes the worth of the person dependent on the righteous state of his heart and mind, it creates the greater desire in him to acquire the reputation of really having these qualities; and because these qualities, though they are of a purely spiritual nature, yet can only be manifested by outward acts, which, since they are material, strike the eye of the world, and may be enacted without the possession of the genuine-mental and moral state, it results that there is here such a wide field for hypocritical actions. We infer, therefore, from what we have said, that there is less opportunity for hypocrisy in heathenism than in Judaism; in Catholicism than in Protestantism. For wherever the principal weight is laid on the outward action, on the opius operatum, there one experiences far less the inclination to cover the inconsistency of the inner world by the outer world; while, on the other hand, where every thing depends on the inward state, and where, with the mere enactment of outward ceremony, God and conscience cannot be appeased, there originates in the unregenerate man the temptation to do what may give him at least the semblance of a quality which he really does not possess.

When a frivolous, reckless fellow kneels at the Catholic altar to perform by feature and gesture his devotions, no one would think of accusing him of hypocrisy; while a Protestant, in a similar case, could not escape this judgment. Still, this does not fully solve the paradox how the hypocrite can hope to carry on his false game, while he knows very well that before the God of truth no one can pass for righteous who possesses simply the semblance of righteousness, but does not connect therewith the belief in its power. It must here be remembered that, in the one case, the person endeavors to acquire for himself, in the community to which he belongs, the epithet of a pious man; and, if he is satisfied herewith, then, in regard to his future state, in view of that day which will bring every thing to light, he is either thoughtless and careless, or else totally unbelieving. When his earthly scene has ended, the curtain drops for him, and all is over. But in another case the person is animated by the hope that, in virtue of those outward acts by which he thinks to do good, his praying, almsgiving, etc., he may prevail before God; this is the true Phariseeism, which dims the facility of knowing God, ands not only deceives men, but counterfeits truth itself, and thereby cheats itself worst of all. A special means of detecting the real hypocrite is his unmerciful judgment over others. This has its ground in the fact that by such expressions he not only seeks to confirm his own standing, but it is also a self-deceit into which he falls; the more he finds to blame in others, the more confident he grows of his own worth, and the more easily he appeases his conscience in regard to the inconsistency of his moral state with his actions and the incongruity of his secret with his open ways. Ethics finds among the different gradations of sill a certain state of hypocrisy which is far worse than absolute subjection to sin, inasmuch as in the latter state there may exist at least the earnest desire in the individual to rid himself of his faults, although he no longer possesses the power to do so; the hypocrite, on the other hand, is quite contented with himself, and has no desire whatever to repent of the sin so deeply lodged in his heart, but merely endeavors to hide it from God and men, in order to be able to gratify his sinful inclinations the more securely under the cover of an assumed sanctity. In certain respects the frivolous sinner is far better than the hypocrite, inasmuch as the former has at least no desire to deceive any one about his condition, and does not present himself to the world otherwise than he really is. This formal truthfulness in the open sinner, however, is counterbalanced by the fact that the hypocrite recognizes at least a divine law and judgment; he is still alive to the consciousness of the incongruity of his state of mind and heart with this divine law; but yet hypocrisy, as a permanent untruthfulness, as a systematic deceit, as a life in dissimulation, must gradually annihilate all sense of its own condition. Thus, in the issue, publicans and harlots arc nearer to the kingdom of heaven than Pharisees. Herzog, Real- Encyklop. 19:643 sq. (See Hypocrite).