Fake Christians Not Allowed? Characteristics of Hypocrites in the Bible

characteristics of hypocrites in the Bible

Last updated on November 30th, 2019


Would you remove a church member who gets drunk every weekend? Would you stop eating with a church member that steals all the time? I’m guessing some would think that was harsh. But it seems Apostle Paul teaches that’s what we should do. For today’s post, we’re going to review an interesting passage. If you care to look at your preferred translation, get it out and flip the page to 1 Corinthians 5. We’re going to read verse 9 through 13, which lays out some characteristics of hypocrites in the Bible

1 Corinthians 5:9-13

1 Corinthians 5:9-13 states, “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.”

So-called brother

So Apostle Paul instructed the Corinth church not to associate with so-called brothers. I’m sure if there were TV reporters then, it’d be on the news all day that Paul said “so-called brother”. Cultural jokes aside, one can perhaps admit he was stern here. Paul is calling out people who claim to be Christian that actively practice certain lifestyles. These “so-called brothers” not to be associated with are immoral people, covetous, idolaters, revilers, drunkards, or a swindler.

Paul goes so far in saying not to eat with people like this. And what’s interesting in the next verses is he’s telling them to leave the outsiders alone. Yes, that means you Westboro Baptist Church. Those who are not Christians living “Un-Christian” lifestyles, that’s God’s job to judge. Our job is to deal with those in the church. Imagine how much there would be less child abuse, less financial corruption, and so many other things in the news that make the Church hypocritical if the focus of judgment was more within the church.

You might agree to this point, but then you might be wondering, how do we know who’s an immoral person? What in the world is a reviler? Well, let’s look up the Greek words and see their meaning.

Characteristics of Hypocrites in the Bible (Greek)

Pornos (an immoral person) – a man who prostitutes his body to another’s lust for hire, a male prostitute, a man who indulges in unlawful sexual intercourse, a fornicator.

Pleonektēs (covetous) – one eager to have more, esp. what belongs to others, greedy of gain, covetous.

Eidōlolatrēs (an idolater) – a worshipper of false gods, a idolater. Used of any one even Christian, participant in any way in the worship of the heathen, esp. one who attends their sacrificial feasts and eats of the remains of offered victims. a covetous man as a worshipper of Mammon.

Loidoros (a reviler) – abusive, i.e. a blackguard:—railer, reviler.

Methysos (a drunkard) – tipsy, drunken, intoxicated.

Harpax (swindler) – a robber, extortioner


So those who claim to be Christian but live these lifestyles are to be removed from our assemblies.  But those who are outside, God judges. “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” Though one word absent in this text is the word “forever”. We can welcome back those who have decided to change from these lifestyles, and pursue Christ again.

We’ve looked at examples of hypocrisy in the Bible, and we know plenty of examples of hypocrisy in the church. I hope we can all strive to do our best to always reflect our faith with truth and authenticity.

Peace to all those who are in Christ.


14 thoughts on “Fake Christians Not Allowed? Characteristics of Hypocrites in the Bible

    1. Hi Barbara. Thanks for your comment. I have a question that may or may not be related to point you’re making, as I was unsure the full point you’re making with the verse. But would you agree that verse doesn’t mean we become drunkards? Or idolaters? The broader meaning of the passage seems to be talking about how Apostle Paul tries to relate with those on the outside to bring them in. Not necessarily in conflict with what’s being mentioned here on dealing with those on the inside.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

      1. Agreed, Jesus came for the sinners, we are His chosen Ambassadors, we are not to judge, we are to extend love, grace, mercy and truth to those who “miss the mark” to those who are in the gutter. We cannot just hang out with like minded people as the Pharisees did. His purpose in saving us, redeeming us, restoring us – is so that we can offer HOPE to those who are in the world – we are in it too – but not of it. God is love, He loves us all, and His timing to return is unknown – the time is near— so reaching out to the lost is critical – His will be done through the willing. Peace to you in Christ.

        1. Thank you for clarifying. Yes indeed, we are not to judge those on the outside. God judges them. And we hold all of ourselves accountable on the inside, with judgment that’s righteous (John 7:24) and not hypocritical (Matthew 7:5) as Jesus mentions.

          Peace in Christ. 🙂

  1. Conclusion: 2 thousand years /IF/ passed from that moment. Put Apostles to the times we are living now. Following their rules 99 percent of population should be removed /for ever/. In my private opinion the hearts of that 99 percent of civilisation are waiting for the presence and healing by Almighty/God/Allah.

    1. Hi evejansonspirituality. Thank you for your comment. I don’t think I agree with the characterization. I know many people who don’t get drunk regularly, who don’t steal regularly. I think the passage seems to be referring to those who actively do these things and claim to be a Christian. We’ve all maybe done something wrong on this list at least one time, but most of us hopefully no longer actively live these lifestyles, and actively strive to avoid engaging in these behaviors and instead engage in actions that obey and honor God.

      Peace in Christ. 🙂

      1. Yes, the REAL Christians, having the Word in their hearts and minds are not doing like that. Sometimes I am meeting them. I used to be the same. Perfect but how can we help to the others?

  2. Interesting thoughts, I am curious as to how you “deal” with sinners in the assembly? What does that practically look like in the modern church?

    1. I had this discussion with someone once and they detailed to me how their church exercised the instruction given in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13. I found it very interesting, whether one agrees with their scriptural stance of what they concluded was sin or not.

      “We had a man and woman (in their late 50s) come to us desiring to marry. He said he committed adultery and his wife divorced him for it. But now he wanted to remarry another lady. Two of the elder’s invited me to join them in discussing with this couple what the Bible taught about this (Matt. 19:9). We stressed that they should not marry. We told them that their marriage would not be recognized and that they would not be welcomed into fellowship with our church family. They didn’t like that (shocker). A few months later, they called another meeting and declared that they went ahead and got married AND that they would still like to be in fellowship with the church family here. With mournful hearts we pleaded with them to repent. And we told them we could not condone their sinful choice with open fellowship. They left mad. Last I heard, they are church “floating.” Sometimes people are bent on doing what they want, and will rationalize it however they need to. With love and compassion, we must never condone sin through fellowship. Being in fellowship with people living in sin communicates to them that they are in good, faithful standing with God.”

  3. I think what Paul is taking about is the Servants​ of the Lord ( brothers) thoes who are in Christ. Thoes growing and coming to know the Lord need first to be reconciled and equipped biblically with sound doctrine before they can serve. So they don’t need go out. But in the case of sin willfully practiced by a MATURE believer , expell the immoral brother on basis he is unashamed and unrepentant.
    If your BROTHER offends you and repents 7 times in a day …how oft shall you forgive?”I tell you not seven but seventy Times seven”, Jesus told Peter.

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