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HYPOCRISY "to wear a mask"

Pretending to be what one is not. The New Testament meaning of hypocrisy and hypocrite reflects its use in Greek drama. In the Greek theater, a hypocrite was one who wore a mask and played a part on the stage, imitating the speech, mannerisms, and conduct of the character portrayed.

Throughout His ministry, Jesus vigorously exposed and denounced the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees. They paraded their charitable deeds, praying and fasting as a theatrical display to win the praise of men (Mt 6:1-2,5, 16). They sought to give the appearance of being godly, but they were actually blind to the truth of God (Lk 20:19-20).

The apostle Paul encountered hypocrisy among some Jewish Christians, who refused to eat with the Gentile converts. Paul said: "Let love be without hypocrisy" (Rom 12:9).