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HYPOCRISY

From the widest possible survey of ancient Greek literature the word
hypocrite refers to an actor, a non-genuine person, and the etymology
of the word implies a lack of critical thinking or judgment.

Do we think that a thoroughly trained scientist with enough of the proper knowledge and equipment could go to a hospital nursery, carefully examine each newborn baby, even study their behavior, and determine which babies are "born" hypocrites or which are even more likely to turn out to be that way?  Isn't it hard to believe that this is even remotely possible, that hypocrites are born or that hypocrisy is inherited from genes?

Do we think that somewhere in the development process of childhood, teenage years, or as a young adult, a person deliberately, consciously chooses to be a hypocrite?  Can we visualize him on some pivotal day saying to himself, "Hypocrisy is very rewarding and hypocrites are neat.  I think I will be a hypocrite in life?"  This would be pretty hard to imagine since nobody likes a hypocrite, not even another hypocrite when he recognizes it; and I doubt if anyone even likes to be called a hypocrite.   Isn't it as equally absurd, to think that anyone deliberately, consciously chooses to be a hypocrite, as it is to think they are born as a hypocrite?  Maybe you catch it like the flu?

If hypocrisy is not inherited and the syndrome is not formally chosen and you don't "catch" it, how does it develop?  Well, it does develop, you know.  I've seen some pretty good ones in my time−even been one myself, actually turned in a very credible performance as one.  Maybe it affects everyone, just develops naturally, and some people are more resistant to it.  What causes it, and more importantly, is there any way to get over it?  I don't like to think I am still a hypocrite, at least a big one.  But what exactly is it?

Let me make it clear that I am talking about fundamental hypocrisy, not just trivial inconsistencies.  Sure, we get sucked into or pressured by circumstances into behavior inconsistent with what we have been taught and what we would reactively defend, but I'm not talking about just behavior or weakness to live up to what we have been taught or what others expect.  You have to become a hypocrite before you can behave like one, being comes before behaving.

The word, HYPOCRISY, is a compound word from Greek (Hypo), meaning, below, under, and Greek (Krisis), meaning distinction, discrimination, judgment, decision, critical thinking, and although the usage in Greek culture means "pretentious actor" or "pretender" the word Jesus used in Aramaic probably meant thinking, belief or behavior lacking in critical judgment.  Hypocrisy implies a form of mendacity or dishonesty on the most basic level, that of consistency and belief. The ramifications of a lack of critical thinking are such that a corrupt belief system is accepted (it is hard to believe that an intelligent person would actually build one for himself) that is inconsistent and unworkable, and these inconsistencies and aberrations naturally show up in a person's behavior.

The one aspect of humanity that Jesus railed against is
hypocrisy, which is the opposite of being genuine or authentic.

Thus we can say that hypocrites are so because of what they have accepted or chosen to believe.  This is essentially the one thing that Jesus had a problem with in human beings.  Not that his problem was with their "sins of the flesh" or primarily their pattern of behavior, because he understood that that was largely determined by what they had been taught and accepted as belief, their training and modeling, their body chemistry, etc.; but his problem was with their lack of judgment and critical thinking in evaluating their own belief system, their inability to see that their behavior was inconsistent not only with humaneness, but with basic tenets of their own sacred writings.

Most men of good will would say they place the highest priority on knowing the truth, and they would deny being willing to deliberately promulgate falsehood for no higher purpose than to win an argument, to defend a personal position, or even for career advancement. These men would all claim to value the truth over what they really value more. It is in this most fundamental way−men pay lip service to the truth, then let personal agendas override−that we are using the terms hypocritical and hypocrisy. Any man driven to use invalid argument techniques can be considered to be a hypocrite.

All of the passages in the Gospels where Jesus uses the term hypocrite are included below.  He generally reserved this most damning term for those that were lacking in judgment, and who either made judgments on other people or actively taught their wrong belief system to others, as well as indulging in pretentious actions.  The scary thing is that we have no reason to believe that the hypocrites he referred to were aware or conscious of their own hypocrisy.  They considered themselves to be God's special people and the shepherds of God's people, they each one had vast portions of scripture committed to memory, and they tried hard to be righteous by a long standing tradition of what was considered to be good behavior.

BLIND LEAD THE BLIND

Luke 6:39-42  Mt 7:3-5  He told them a parable: "Is a blind man able to lead a blind man, won't they both fall into the ditch?  A disciple is not above his teacher, but every one having been matured will be like his teacher.  Why do you see the twig in your brother's eye, but don't consider the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the twig in your eye,' with yourself not seeing the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the twig in your brother's eye."

Commentary: Here Jesus is applying the term to their teaching and belief rather than pretentious acting.

 HYPOCRITES HONOR WITH LIPS

Mark 7:1-23  Mt 15:1-20  Then some of the Pharisees and theologians coming from Jerusalem assembled, and seeing that some of his disciples ate with hands defiled, that is, unwashed, they found fault and approach Jesus, saying, "Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?  For they don't wash their hands when they eat food."  For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands to the wrists, holding to the tradition of the elders.  And they do not eat from market unless they wash themselves; and there are many other things which they received to observe, the washing of cups, and pots, and vessels of bronze, and couches.

Then the Pharisees and the theologians question him, "Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat the bread with unwashed hands?"  Replying, he said to them, "Isaiah prophesied well concerning you{pl}, you{pl} hypocrites!  As it has even been written:

'This people with their lips honor me,
but their heart is far away from me;
and they worship me in vain,
teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.'

Commentary: Here again Jesus is applying the term to their teaching and belief rather than pretentious behavior.

So, forsaking the precept of God, you{pl} hold the tradition of men, washings of utensils and cups and many other such things you{pl} do."  And he said to them, "You{pl} effectively set aside the precept of God, that you{pl} may keep your tradition!  For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He speaking evil of father or mother, let him end by death'.  But you{pl} say, 'If a man tells his father or his mother, Corban, that is, an offering,'− whatever by me you would have gained − then you{pl} no longer allow him to do anything for his father or mother, making void the word of God by your tradition which you{pl} passed on.  And many such things you{pl} do."

Note: Under the pretext of putting God first, some of the religious leaders encouraged the tradition of Corban, a pronouncement that you were dedicating your property, income or increase to the upkeep of the temple and its services.  This sometimes effectively cut off needy family members, engendering a hypocritical situation as it always does when God or anything associated with God is put before the tangible love of human beings.

And calling all the people to him he said to them, "Hear me, all of you{pl}, and understand: there is nothing having entered into a man from the outside which is able to profane him; nothing going into the mouth defiles the man, but that coming out of the mouth, this defiles the man.  If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."  And when he entered the house, away from the crowd, his disciples came and questioned him about the parable, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended upon hearing this saying?"  But answering, he said, "Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up.  Leave them; they are blind guides of the blind, and if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a pit."  But Peter answering, said to him, "Explain the parable to us."

And he said to them, "Then are you{pl} also dense?  Do you{pl} not perceive that whatever entering into a man from outside cannot profane him, since it does not enter his heart, but into his stomach, and then goes out into the waste bowl purging out all the foods?"  And he said, "That having passed out of a man, that defiles a man; for the things coming from the mouth come forth from the heart, those defile the man.  For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, greeds, wickedness, deceit, wicked visions, slander, pride, foolishness − all these evil things come out from within and profane the man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not profane the man."

Commentary: Here with his questions it is clear that Jesus is applying the term to their lack of judgment along with what was in their hearts that produces his list of evils.

SIGNS FROM HEAVEN

Matthew 16:1-4  Mk 8:11-13  And the Pharisees and Sadducees went out and began to argue with him, and testing him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven.  He sighed in his spirit and answered them, "With evening coming, you{pl} say, 'Fair weather; for the sky is red.'  And in the morning, 'Stormy today, for the sky is red and overcast.'  Hypocrites!  You{pl} indeed know how to read the face of the sky, but the signs of the times you{pl} cannot.  Why does this generation seek a sign?  An evil and adulterous generation seeks a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah."  Leaving them and entering the boat again, he went away to the other side.

Commentary: Here Jesus is applying the term to their lack of judgment in spiritual matters.

SHARING IN SECRET

Matthew 6:1-4  "Take care that you{pl} don't do your merciful deeds before men in order to be seen by them.  Otherwise you{pl} will have no reward from your Father in the heavens.  Then when you{pl} extend mercy, do not trumpet before you{pl}, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by men.  Truly, I say to you{pl}, they have their reward.  But with you{pl} extending mercy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your mercy may be in secret; and your Father seeing in secret will reward you{pl} in the open.

Commentary: Here Jesus is applying the term to their lack of judgment in spiritual matters and their pretentious behavior.

TEACHING HOW TO PRAY

Matthew 6:5-15  Lk 11:1-4  He being in a certain place was praying, and as he ceased, a certain one of his disciples said to him, "Sir, teach us to pray, even as John taught his disciples."  And he said to them, "When you{pl} pray, you{pl} shall not be like the hypocrites; for they love standing in the synagogues and at the open street corners to pray, so that they may be seen by men.  Truly, I say to you{pl}, they have their reward.

Commentary: Here Jesus is applying the term to their disingenuous motives and their pretentious behavior.

"But when you{pl} pray go into your room, and shutting the door, pray to your Father in secret; and your Father seeing in secret will reward you{pl} in the open.  But when praying, do not use vain repetition as the Gentiles do; for they think that by many phrases they will be heard.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what things you{pl} have need for before you{pl} ask him.  You{pl} then pray like this:

Our Father in the heavens,
Let your name be hallowed.
Let your kingdom come.
Let your will be done,
also on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread;
and dismiss our debts,
as we also forgive our debtors;
and lead us not into being tested,
but deliver us from evil.
Because of you is the kingdom, and the power,
and the glory for the ages, amen.

"For if you{pl} forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you{pl}; but if you{pl} do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

Note: This would be temporary until the Age of Justice.

FASTING IN SECRET

Matthew 6:16-18  "And when you{pl} fast, do not be as the hypocrites, for darkening their countenances, they disfigure their faces so that their fasting may be noticed by men.  Truly, I say to you{pl}, they have their reward.  But with you{pl} fasting, anoint your head and wash your face, so as not to appear fasting to men, but to your Father in secret; and your Father seeing in secret will reward you{pl} in the open."

Commentary: Here Jesus is applying the term to their disingenuous motives and their pretentious acting.

WOE TO THE PHARISEES

Luke 11:37-54  Mt 23:23-28  And while speaking, a certain Pharisee asked that he would dine with him; going in he reclined.  Upon seeing this the Pharisee pondered that he did not first wash before dinner.  And the Master said to him,  "Woe to you{pl}, theologians and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you{pl} cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside they are full of extortion, thievery and excess.  You{pl} fools!  Did not the one making the outside make the inside also?  You blind Pharisee! first cleanse the inside of the cup and the dish, so that the outside of them also may become clean.  Then give compassion from the things being within; and behold, everything is clean for you{pl}.

Commentary: Here Jesus is applying the term to what is in their hearts, their lack of judgment, disingenuous motives and pretentious behavior.

"Woe to you{pl}, theologians and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you{pl} tithe mint and dill and cummin, and ignore the discernment and love of God, and you{pl} have abandoned the weightier matters of the canon, justice and mercy and faith; these things one should do, and not abandon the others.  You{pl} blind guides, the ones straining out the gnat and swallowing the camel!

Commentary: Here Jesus is applying the term primarily to their lack of judgment.

"Woe to you{pl} Pharisees! for you{pl} love the high seat in the synagogues and the salutations in the markets.

"Woe to you{pl}, theologians and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you{pl} are like unseen graves, and men walking over don't know it; you{pl} are like whitewashed sepulchres, which indeed outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead bones and all foulness.  So you{pl} also indeed outwardly appear reasonable to men, but within you{pl} are full of hypocrisy and disorder."

Commentary: Here Jesus is applying the term to what is in their hearts, their lack of judgment, disingenuous motives and pretentious acting.

One of the lawyers answering says to him, "Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also."  And he said, "Woe to you{pl} lawyers also! for you{pl} load men with burdens difficult to bear, and you{pl} yourselves don't touch the burdens with one of your fingers.  Woe to you{pl} because you{pl} build the tombs of the prophets, yet your fathers killed them.  Then you{pl} are witnesses and consenters to the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you{pl} build their tombs.  Because of this also, the Wisdom of God said,

'I will send them prophets and apostles,
 and some of them they will kill and ban,'

that the blood of all the prophets having been shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, killed between the altar and the sanctuary.  Yes, I tell you{pl}, it will be required of this generation.

"Woe to you lawyers! for you{pl} took the key of knowledge; you{pl} yourselves did not enter, and those entering you{pl} kept out." As he was saying these things the theologians and the Pharisees began to be terribly angry, and lying in wait for him to trick him concerning many things, and to provoke him to speak of many things, lying in wait for him, and seeking to catch something from his mouth so they might accuse him.

LEAVEN OF THE PHARISEES

Luke 12:1-3  While thousands of the crowd being assembled so as to trample upon one another, he first began to say to his disciples, "Be wary for yourselves about the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.  Nothing is being completely concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.  Therefore what you{pl} said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you{pl} spoke in the ear in private rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops."

Commentary: Here Jesus is applying the term primarily to their teaching as well as their lack of judgment.

COME TO CAST FIRE NOT PEACE

Luke 12:49-59  "I came to cast fire upon the earth; and how much I wish it were already kindled!  I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is finished!  Do you{pl} think that I came to give peace on earth?  No, I tell you{pl}, but rather division; for from now on in one house there will be five having been divided, three against two and two against three will be divided; father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother‑in‑law against her daughter‑in‑law and daughter‑in‑law against her mother‑in‑law."

He also said to the crowds, "When you{pl} see the cloud rising in the west, at once you{pl} say, 'A storm is coming'; and so it happens.  And when a south wind is blowing, you{pl} say, 'It will be hot'; and it happens.  You{pl} hypocrites!  You{pl} know how to read the appearance of earth and sky; but you{pl} do not know how to interpret the present time?

Commentary: Here Jesus is applying the term primarily to  their lack of judgment.

"And why do you{pl} for yourselves not judge the righteous?  As you{pl} go with your accuser to a magistrate, make an effort to settle with him, so that he doesn't drag you{pl} to the judge, and the judge will deliver you{pl} to the officer, and the officer throw you{pl} into prison.  I tell you{pl}, in no way may you{pl} leave there until you{pl} have paid even the last copper."

BENT WOMAN STRAIGHTENED ON SABBATH

Luke 13:10-17  Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath holidays.  And behold, there was a woman having a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years; and she was bent over and was not able to be fully erect.  Seeing her, Jesus called her near and said to her, "Woman, you have been freed from your infirmity."  And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made erect, and she praised God.But the synagogue ruler reacting, being upset that Jesus had healed on the sabbath, said to the people, "There are six days in which it is right to work; coming on those, then be healed, and not on the sabbath holiday."  Then the Master answered him, "You{pl} hypocrites!  Does not each one of you{pl} on the sabbath holiday free his ox or his ass from the manger, and lead it away to water it?  And this woman being a daughter of Abraham whom the Obstructer bound, behold, for eighteen years, was it not right to free her from this bond on the sabbath holiday?"  And with him saying this, all those opposing him were put to shame; and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things happening because of him.

Note: Notice this physical disorder of not being able to straighten her back is referred to as "spirit of infirmity" and "Satan bound".  The Hebrew word Satan means obstructer or blocker.

Commentary: Here Jesus is applying the term primarily to their teaching as well as their lack of judgment.

RENDER UNTO CAESAR

Matthew 22:15-22  Mk 12:13-17  Lk 20:19-26  Upon going, the Pharisees took counsel so that they might entrap him in his discourse.  Watching carefully, they sent spies, pretending to be harmless so that they might catch what he said and deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.  So they send forth their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are truthful, and you teach the way of God truthfully, and no one concerns you, for you do not regard the face of men.  Tell us, then, what you think.  Is it proper to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?  Should we give, or should we not give?"

But Jesus, knowing their malevolence, said, "Why do you{pl} test me, you{pl} hypocrites?  Show me the coin for the tax.  Bring me a denarius, that I may see it."  And they brought him a coin.  And he says to them, "Whose image and inscription is this?"  They say to him, "Caesar's."  Then he says to them, "Render then the things of Caesar to Caesar, and the things of God to God."  Upon hearing this, they marveled; and leaving, they went away.

Commentary: Here Jesus is applying the term primarily to disingenuous motives as well as their lack of judgment.

WOES UPON THE HYPOCRITES

Matthew 23:13-22,29-36  "But woe to you{pl}, theologians and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you{pl} shut the kingdom of the heavens before men; for you{pl} do not enter yourselves, nor allow those going in to enter.  Woe to you{pl}, theologians and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you{pl} devour the houses of the widows, and for a pretense are praying long, therefore you{pl} receive the more condemnation.  Woe to you{pl}, theologians and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you{pl} travel sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one, you{pl} make him a son of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves.

Commentary: Here Jesus is applying the term primarily to their teachings, disingenuous motives, pretentious acting, as well as their lack of judgment.

"Woe to you{pl}, blind guides, those saying, 'Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is a bound one.'  Blind fools!  For which is greater, the gold or the temple sanctifying the gold?  And, 'If any one swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift upon it is a bound one.'  Blind fools!  For which is greater, the gift or the altar sanctifying the gift?  So then, he swearing by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it; and he swearing by the temple, swears by it and by him who dwells in it; and the one swearing by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by the one sitting upon it.

Commentary: Here Jesus is about their teachings, as well as their lack of judgment.

"Woe to you{pl}, theologians and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you{pl} build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the reasonable, and say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been sharers with them in the blood of the prophets.'  Thus you{pl} witness against yourselves that you{pl} are sons of those murdering the prophets, and you{pl} fill up, then, the measure of your fathers.

Commentary: Here Jesus is applying the term primarily to their internal dishonesty.

"You{pl} serpents!  You{pl} brood of vipers!  How do you{pl} escape the fate of Gehenna?  Therefore behold, I send you{pl} prophets and wise men and scholars, and some of them you{pl} will kill and crucify, and some of them you{pl} will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from village to village, so that all the righteous blood shed on earth comes upon you{pl}, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you{pl} murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.  Truly, I say to you{pl}, all these things will come upon this generation.

PARABLE OF UNFAITHFUL SERVANT
 (This parable should be applied to the Parousia, that is, the display
of his earthly presence, and the Apocalypse, the great unveiling via
  the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension.)

Luke 12:41-48  Mt 24:45-51  Peter said to him, "Master, do you tell this parable for us or also for all men?"  And the Master said, "Who then is the faithful and prudent steward, whom his lord will appoint over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?  Blessed is that servant his lord will find so doing when he comes.  Truly, I say to you{pl}, he will appoint him over all his possessions.  But if that servant says to himself, 'My lord delays in coming,' and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to both eat and drink and get drunk, the lord of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect and at an hour he does not know, and will separate him, and will place his portions with the unbelievers, the hypocrites; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Commentary: Here Jesus identifies the hypocrites as the unbelievers.

But that servant knowing his lord's will, and did not prepare or act according to his will, will be beaten with many lashes.  But he not knowing, and doing what deserved a beating, will be beaten with few lashes.  Everyone given much, of him will much be required; and to whom much was deposited, exceedingly more will be asked of him.

Commentary: Of course, we should understand that the "beating" in the time of judgment will be intense regret and be self inflicted.

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