Word Study: Dissimulation

And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.   Galatians 3:14

We have before us a sad account by the Apostle Paul. In his letter to the churches of Galatia, Paul is reprimanding them for the apparent denunciation of the Gospel: they are turning away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ to something else. Paul is determined to stop this, so he spends the first three chapters of his letter arguing that his Gospel message was not something he invented or received from any man; he received it directly from God. Paul, in the latter half chapter 3, then shows how he had to in fact correct someone who was an apostle before him: Peter. Peter was apparently not conducting himself in a manner that was consistent with his profession as a follower of Christ, and this conduct had literally infected the rest of the church. Paul uses a word, translated “dissimulation” here, to describe this conduct. Does it have any bearing on us today?

The word translated “dissimulation” is the Greek word “hupokrisis,” from which we get the English word “hypocrisy. We cannot, however, immediately assume this word means hypocrisy: just because an English word is derived from a Greek word does not mean the Greek word means the same thing. What, then, does this word mean? BDAG defines it as “to create a public impression that is at odds with one’s real purposes or motivations.” In other words, this word means you are saying or thinking one thing but your actions are creating an impression that is as odds with your inner truth. We would, ironically, call this being a hypocrite: saying and believing one thing and doing something else. This is what Paul calls Peter, as Peter believed that a Christian was freed from the bondage of the Law of Moses, but his actions denied this.

How are we measuring up in this area today? We all say, for instance, that we are one family in God. Are we, then, acting like this one family? Are we treating our fellow church members as our brothers and sisters in the Lord? Or is there a bit of double-talk going on in our worship places? What about hwo we treat the visitor who dresses a bit off? We often say that a person does not need to change their outward appearance before they get saved, but are we consistent in this profession? I pray the Lord would open our eyes to see ourselves as we really are.

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