What did Jesus say about hypocrites (Jesus’ teaching on hypocrisy)?

Hypocrisy is considered one of the biggest challenges to Christian beliefs. In the Bible, many verses imply that hypocrisy is sinful and condemned. To best understand what is and how to deal with hypocrisy, believers still ask, what did Jesus say about hypocrites?

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said that hypocrites are ferocious wolves in sheep’s clothing. He also implies that they are like whitewashed tombs that look clean on the outside yet are unclean and have bones inside. According to the Bible, hypocrisy comes in two forms: either looking down on others yet you are also flawed or believing in one thing and then doing something against it.

What does the Bible say about hypocrites? Are there signs related to hypocrisy? And do Christians also practice hypocrisy? This article will answer these and more after careful research on biblical evidence. So read on!

How does the Bible describe hypocrites?

The Bible implies that hypocrites are like whitewashed tombs, clean and white on the outside but dirty and full of dead bodies inside. The Bible further says that these hypocrites come dressed in sheep’s clothing, yet they are wolves on the inside. They are called snakes and a brood of vipers.

What are the signs of hypocrisy according to the Bible?

Hypocrites love to be seen.

Matthew 6:1-2 implies the best example of a hypocrite. The Bible says that they love receiving praise for their deeds. For this reason, they will perform good acts in front of people, not because they have a pure heart, but because they want to be seen and praised.

Hypocrites love correcting others without wanting correction

Remember the Bible verse in Matthew 7:3-5 that talks of people being keen to remove a speck from their neighbor’s eyes when they haven’t looked into their eyes and removed theirs first? The Bible simply suggests that hypocrites judge others without correcting their mistakes first, which could be similar to the people they are judging.

Hypocrites pretend to be what they aren’t

According to the Gospel of Matthew, hypocrites act as though they are more righteous than others. They believe they are sinless, pretending to be something they are not. However, the Word tells us that these people can still be identified. This is why Matthew 7:16-17 says you will still know hypocrites by their behavior.

Hypocrites focus on man-made traditions and laws.

The Bible insinuates that the Scribes and Pharisees were disturbed at how Jesus violated their tradition. They were angry at how Jesus’ disciples did not even wash their feet before eating bread. In other instances in the Bible, they were displeased at how Jesus seemed to break their law.

Hypocrites’ hearts are far from God.

The Bible says that hypocrites give lip service to God’s Word, but in the real sense, their hearts are far away from Him. Yet the scriptures stress that God is not interested in the outward. But rather in what is within us.

Jesus’ teaching on hypocrisy
Where does Jesus talk about hypocrites in the Bible? See below

Where does Jesus talk about hypocrites in the Bible?

Jesus condemns hypocrites in the Gospel of Matthew. In Matthew 23, Jesus suggests that the Pharisees are hypocrites since they do not practice what they preach. He implies that they love to be treated better than others and do things for people to see. He still condemns them in Matthew 15:8 and even implies that Isaiah’s prophesy was right. Furthermore, he warns believers against judging others when they are not perfect in Matthew 7:3-5 and against false prophets in Matthew 7:15.

Why did Jesus rebuke the scribes and Pharisees so harshly?

In Matthew 23:13, Jesus harshly condemns Pharisees who practice hypocrisy. He says Woe unto them for shutting the door of the kingdom of Heaven on peoples’ faces. The Pharisees were given authority by God to lead sinners to Christ. Yet, Jesus insinuated that they saw themselves as better than the rest and shut the door on those looking for God.

The second Woe that Jesus declared on them was condemning them for misguiding people searching for God. He implied this since the Pharisees focused more on religion than on God’s Word, leading believers to twice as much sin as the Pharisees themselves were doing (Matthew 13:15).

Thirdly, Jesus condemned the Pharisees harshly for blindly picking oaths suitable for binding and deciding those not suitable. Instead, they were expected to see all oaths are significant and of sacred nature. They also had to keep his temple holy (Matthew 23:16).

The fifth Woe against the Pharisees was because they paid their tithes diligently yet neglected caring for others as they were supposed to. Matthew 23:23 says that they forgot the weightier things of God and focused more on the law.

According to the Bible, the sixth reason Jesus condemns the Pharisees so harshly is that they pretend to love and obey God yet, deep down, want nothing to do with him. The scriptures say they are like whitewashed tombs, clean on the outside yet dead on the inside (Matthew 23:27).

The seventh rebuke that Jesus gives the Pharisees is because they openly confess to being like their ancestors, who prosecuted the prophets. They act as though they would not do the same and even build monuments for them, but Jesus says that they are hypocrites who are likely to plot the murder of the Son of God (Matthew 26:4)

Jesus condemns the Pharisees harshly because he instructed them to bring believers to him, yet they turned them away. So they did not follow the instructions given to them.

Why does Jesus warn about hypocrisy? Dangers of hypocrisy

Jesus warns about hypocrisy because he claims that it is sinful.

  1. Hypocrisy dishonors God because hypocrites will disobey his Word, hence disobeying Him.
  2. Hypocrisy destroys unbelievers since they continue in sin and do not search for God.
  3. Hypocrisy deceives a hypocrite since he knows the truth yet does not follow it.

Bible verses about hypocrisy

  • Matthew 7:15: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves-There are numerous prophets hiding undo the cloth, yet they are not as pure as they pretend to be.
  • 1 John 4:20: Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen-We have to reflect God’s love as we are in his image and likeness.
  • Matthew 7:5: You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye-The Bible implies that you shouldn’t judge others before looking at yourself first
  • Matthew 6:1: “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven-Being good to people to be recognized is hypocritical and will not be rewarded.
  • James 1:26: Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Many focus too much on being religious and forget the weightier matters of God. Believers should follow in Jesus’s footsteps that lead to God.
  • Matthew 15:7-9: You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules-Jesus was angry as he pointed out how Pharisees are pretenders, as Isaiah had prophesied.
  • Romans 2:3: So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?- As humans, it isn’t our duty to make judgments since we also make the same mistakes as the rest.
  • 2 Timothy 3:5: having a form of godliness, but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people-The Bible implies the last days will be chaotic since people will know what they are expected to do to serve God but will not do as they should.
  • Titus 1:16: They claim to know God, but by their actions, they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for doing anything good-The actions of hypocrites are deceitful, they deny God, yet they know him.
  • 1 John 2:4: Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person- If you claim to know God, then stand by him and walk his path.
  • Matthew 6:5: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly, I tell you, they have received their reward in full-Pharisees aren’t the best to emulate when believers want to pray. This is because they act like they follow God just to be seen by people.
  • Matthew 23:23: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill, and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former-The Bible implies religious leaders tithe diligently but forget to do other more important things that God expects them to do.
  • 1 Peter 2:16: Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves- It is so freeing to live genuinely following God instead of acting.
  • Matthew 23:27: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead, and everything unclean-Hypocrites are liars because we assume they are clean on the outside when truly inside, they are unclean.
  • Isaiah 29:13: The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught-According to Prophet Isaiah, hypocrites give lip service to God, pretending to serve him, yet in the real sense, they are far from him.
  • Mark 7:6: He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me- Jesus still supports Isaiah’s prophesy about hypocrites, labeling them as pretenders.
  • Luke 16:15: He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight-God does not look at the outward but focuses on what is within you.
  • Ezekiel 33:31: My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain-The Lord seems aware of how hypocritical his people are, lying to him that they are following his ways when they aren’t.
What did Jesus say about hypocrites?
How do Christians practice hypocrisy today? See below

How do Christians practice hypocrisy today?

Religious scholars suggest that there is a lot of hypocrisy among Christians today. First, Christians lead double lives. They sin throughout the week and show up to church on Sunday. It is hypocrisy since they are aware of what they do, performing acts of immorality, speaking lies, being deceitful, and even committing murder, then hiding behind the name of God.

Most Christians want to be teachers and not followers of the law. They constantly give instructions, see themselves as better than others, and do not think that they should also follow these instructions. They think of themselves as better than others. The action is considered hypocritical.


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