“Be Not As the Hypocrites”

November 1, 2011

In Matthew 6:5 Jesus said,

And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

To say, “they have their reward,” means that the only reward such will receive is the praise of men; they will not be rewarded by God. Regarding the words “hypocrite,” and “hypocrisy,” the ISBE states

‘Hypocrisy,’ ‘hypocrite’ are frequent in the New Testament, chiefly in Christ’s discourses in the Gospels. The word hupokrisis (primarily, “an answer,” “response”) meant generally, in classical Greek, stageplaying, acting, the histrionic art; hence, it came to mean acting a part in life, etc. . . but, in general, the meaning is acting a part, false, deceptive and deceived, formally and outwardly religious and good, but inwardly insincere and unrighteous; the hypocrite may come to deceive himself as well as others, but ‘the hypocrite’s hope shall perish’ (Job 8:13, KJV). On no class did our Lord pronounce such severe condemnation as on the hypocrites of His day.

These actors’ masks in our photos below are displayed in Athens near the ancient agora. If the actor were a tragedian, he/she might have a mask like this:

Tragic Mask. Athens, Greece. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

On the other hand, if he were a comic, the mask might look like this:

Comic mask. Athens, Greece. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Jesus does not want His followers to be actors, playing a part, all the while playing a role that is not real. He requires total, genuine, sincere conversion and commitment to Him. “Be not as the hypocrites.”