Text Tuesday: Hypocrite

Matthew’s gospel mentions the term hypocrite (hypokrites) 13 times. Wow! That’s an alarming amount of times for one, particular term. Let’s take a deeper dive.

A “hypocrite” was an actor who would wear a mask in Greek plays to portray two characters, or one character that acted in two different ways, who pretends to be one way and is really the opposite. The term was then used in ethics discourses about how we can say we “believe” in something but actually act the opposite.

All references to “hypocrite” in Matthew are said by Jesus, usually pointed in defense against his most popular opponents: the Pharisees, Scribes, Teachers of the Law. Perhaps the greatest critique that Jesus gives the hypocrite is how (s)he would prosecute another without seeing the fault within herself/himself.

 

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