One who, like a stage-player, feigns to be what he is not. The epithet is generally applied to those who assume the appearance of virtue or piety, without possessing the reality. Our Savior accused the Pharisees of hypocrisy, Lu 12:1.
one who puts on a mask and feigns himself to be what he is not; a dissembler in religion. Our Lord severely rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy (Mt 6:2,5,16). "The hypocrite's hope shall perish" (Job 8:13). The Hebrew word here rendered "hypocrite" rather means the "godless" or "profane," as it is rendered in Jer 23:11, i.e., polluted with crimes.
This word occurs in the NT only in the Synoptic Gospels; but 'hypocrisy' is used in the Epistles (Ga 2:13; 1Ti 4:2; 1Pe 2:1), and the verb 'to play the hypocrite' in Lu 20:20 (tr '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. Mt 6:2,5,16; 22:18 etc.), at others it is a deception of which the actor himself is unconscious (e.g. Mr 7:6; Lu 6:42; 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 (Mt 23). This meaning of the word has led some to give it the wider interpretation of 'godlessness' in some passages (e.g. Mt 24:51; cf. Lu 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.
HYPOCRITE, a word from the Greek, which signifies one who feigns to be what he is not; who puts on a masque or character, like actors in tragedies and comedies. It is generally applied to those who assume appearances of a virtue, without possessing it in reality. Our Saviour accused the Pharisees of hypocrisy. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word caneph, which is rendered "hypocrite," "counterfeit," signifies also a profane wicked man, a man polluted, corrupted, a man of impiety, a deceiver. It was ingeniously said by Basil, that the hypocrite did not put off the old man, but put the new man upon it.