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Greek Word Study - Hypocrite

In ancient Greece it was a fine thing to be called a hypocrites (hoo poh krih TACE). This was the term for various kinds of public speaker: an orator, an interpreter of dreams, a reciter of poetry or most of all, an actor. There was nothing bad about being a “hypocrite.”

But the very idea of the actor’s role—pretending to be in public what you are not in private—eventually degraded the word hypocrites. By New Testament times Jesus could use the word in scathing rebuke of the self-righteous phonies called Pharisees. They had the external, but not the internal. They had the talk, but not the walk. They just played a role.

That brings us to a very important word in the New Testament for parents: anupocritos (ahn ooh POH krih toss). The word reminds us that the role of parents and grandparents is more than just a role; it must be a reality. This is the word Paul used in 2 Timothy 1:5 to describe the “sincere” or “unfeigned” faith Timothy had learned from his mother and grandmother. Their faith in God was not just playing a role, even a good role. Their faith was more than just an act.

Other “un-hypocritical” traits in the New Testament include: sincere love (Rom 12:9), sincere wisdom (James 3: 17), and sincere brotherly affection (1 Peter 1:22). As the word is sometimes translated in various translations, “Don't fake it” (The Message) and “Don't just pretend” (New Living Translation). If we parents and grandparents can uphold a model of faith, wisdom, and love that is honest and sincere, it will be the finest gift a child could ever receive.