A solemn black and white portrait of an aged mirror, cracked and weathered, symbolizing introspection and revealing the faceless reflection of biblical figures, reflecting the profound hypocrisy they harbored.

Who Was The Biggest Hypocrite In The Bible?

Hypocrisy is a serious charge to level against anyone, let alone biblical figures. Yet some individuals in scripture rightly earn this label through their words and actions. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Judas Iscariot embodied hypocrisy more than any other biblical character.

He betrayed Jesus with a kiss after following him for years as a disciple.

In this comprehensive article, we will examine several contenders for the biggest hypocrite in the Bible. Weighing their words and deeds, we can determine who most deserves this notorious distinction.

Judas Iscariot

Betrayed Jesus After Years as a Disciple

Judas Iscariot was one of the original twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. He traveled with Jesus for three years, hearing his teachings and witnessing his miracles firsthand. Yet, Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, identifying him with a kiss so the religious authorities could arrest him.

This betrayal was a devastating act of hypocrisy after enjoying such an intimate relationship as a trusted follower of Jesus.

What would motivate a disciple to turn on his master after so long? Some scholars believe Judas was greedy for money and seized the chance to profit from handing Jesus over. Others think Judas wanted to force Jesus’ hand, to motivate him to rise up against Roman oppression.

Whatever his reasons, Judas regretted the betrayal immediately after Jesus’ condemnation, saying “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4). Judas’ hypocrisy led to devastating consequences not only for Jesus but for himself.

Kissed Jesus to Identify Him for Arrest

The arrest of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane was orchestrated by Judas. Even though the religious authorities wanted Jesus seized, it was difficult because he was often surrounded by crowds of followers. So Judas used his inside knowledge to help them grab Jesus under cover of night.

When Judas arrived at the garden, he singled out Jesus to the soldiers by greeting him with a kiss. This “kiss of Judas” identified Jesus and allowed the troops to arrest him while avoiding a riot. It was an intimate act of affection that Judas warped into a shocking betrayal.

Imagine spending every day for years with someone, sharing meals and conversations, then turning him over to die with something as simple as a peck on the cheek.

The hypocrisy of Judas kissing Jesus is amplified by Jesus’ own teachings. Just hours earlier, Jesus had instructed his disciples to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43).

Yet here was one of those very disciples, someone Jesus loved and prayed for, betraying him with an act of false affection. Judas’ kiss revealed the darkness in his own heart, propelling the sacrifice of Christ.

Pontius Pilate

Declared Jesus Innocent Yet Sentenced Him to Death

Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor of Judea who presided over the trial of Jesus and reluctantly sentenced him to crucifixion, even though he believed Jesus was innocent. According to the Gospels, Pilate was pressured by the Jewish elders and crowds to condemn Jesus, even though he could find no basis for a charge against him (John 18:38).

When Pilate heard that Jesus was from Galilee, he sent him to King Herod, who found no fault in Jesus and sent him back to Pilate. Still seeking to release Jesus, Pilate offered the crowd a choice to release Jesus or the criminal Barabbas, but the crowd called for Barabbas to be released and Jesus to be crucified (Matthew 27:15-26).

Pilate finally conceded and handed Jesus over to be crucified.

Despite pronouncing Jesus innocent three times (Luke 23:4, 14, 22), Pilate gave in to the demands of the crowd and ordered Jesus to be whipped and crucified. As governor, Pilate had the authority to pardon Jesus, but he chose political expediency over justice.

His attempts to evade responsibility by sending Jesus to Herod or offering to release Barabbas did not exonerate Pilate of his guilt in condemning an innocent man.

Washed His Hands to Avoid Responsibility

According to Matthew 27:24, when Pilate saw that the crowds were adamant about crucifying Jesus, he took water and washed his hands before them, saying “I am innocent of this man’s blood. It is your responsibility.”

This scene has become iconic as an attempt by Pilate to absolve himself of culpability in sending Jesus to his death.

However, washing his hands was merely a symbolic gesture that did not remove Pilate’s guilt. As the man in authority presiding over Jesus’ trial, Pilate bore ultimate responsibility for the outcome. His efforts to placate the crowd while still pardoning Jesus failed.

Although he declared Jesus innocent multiple times, Pilate finally caved in to political pressures and ordered the execution.

Pilate’s handwashing illustrates the hypocrisy of someone in power trying to evade blame when they go against their own conscience. Even though he knew condemning Jesus was wrong, Pilate tried to make a public show of removing himself from the proceedings.

But his private misgivings did not negate his public actions. Pilate remains a poignant example of moral failure in leadership.

King Saul

Turned Against David Despite God Appointing Him King

King Saul was the first king of Israel, anointed by the prophet Samuel at God’s instruction. However, Saul disobeyed God on several occasions and was told that his kingdom would not endure (1 Samuel 13, 15).

God then sent Samuel to secretly anoint David, a young shepherd, as the next king of Israel (1 Samuel 16).

David became a successful military commander and was praised for slaughtering the Philistine giant Goliath. This made King Saul jealous (1 Samuel 18:6-9). Although David was loyal and served Saul well, Saul turned against him.

On two occasions, Saul even hurled a spear at David in order to kill him (1 Samuel 18:10-11, 19:9-10). Saul saw David as a threat and tried multiple times to have him killed, even though it was God’s will for David to become the next king.

Saul’s jealousy and paranoia led him to turn against the man God had chosen to take his place as king. This was an act of blatant hypocrisy and disobedience towards God on Saul’s part.

Consistently Disobeyed God’s Commands

One of King Saul’s biggest flaws was that he consistently disobeyed direct commands from God and the prophet Samuel.

For example, when Saul made an unauthorized sacrifice, Samuel declares: “Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king” (1 Samuel 15:23). Saul had directly gone against God’s instructions.

On another occasion, Saul was anxious before a battle and made a burnt offering to God without waiting for Samuel to arrive. As soon as Saul finished, Samuel showed up and scolded him for not keeping God’s command to wait for 7 days until his arrival (1 Samuel 13:8-14).

Despite being Israel’s first king, Saul failed to lead and set an example by not wholeheartedly obeying God. His hypocrisy was saying he followed God’s will, but consistently disobeying direct commands. Saul sought to do things his own way rather than God’s way.

In contrast, David was considered a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). Unlike Saul, David deeply repented when he sinned and sought to realign his life with God’s will. David wasn’t perfect, but his heart desired to obey God.

Ananias and Sapphira

In the early days of the Christian church, as described in Acts 5, a married couple named Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of property and brought some of the proceeds to the apostles as a donation. However, they lied about the full amount, pretending they were donating the entire sale price when in reality they kept back some for themselves.

When confronted by Peter about their deception, Ananias and Sapphira both immediately fell down dead. This severe punishment served as a warning to others not to lie to God and the church.

Lied About Money Given to the Early Church

Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of property, likely their home or land. As was common practice at the time, they laid the money “at the apostles’ feet,” meaning they donated it for use by the church community (Acts 4:34–35).

However, they falsely claimed they were giving the full amount from the sale. In reality, they kept back some for themselves but lied and said they were handing over everything. It was their choice whether to donate at all, and if so, how much.

But they wanted the status and admiration that came with giving it all while secretly holding some back. They were being hypocrites.People were not required to give everything, but they were required to be truthful.

When first confronted by Peter, Ananias stuck with the deception, allowing it to grow into a bigger lie. Peter declared that Satan had filled his heart, causing him to lie to the Holy Spirit within the apostles.

Lying about the donation amount was not just lying to the church, but to God himself (Acts 5:3–4). God knows people’s hearts and cannot be fooled by outward appearances. Ananias’s sudden death revealed the truth and served as a dramatic demonstration of judgment for deception and secret selfishness.

Punished Harshly for Their Deception

After Ananias collapsed and died, Sapphira came along unaware, three hours later. Peter confronted her and gave her an opportunity to tell the truth. But she stuck to the same lie, insisting they had donated the full amount from the sale. Like her husband, she immediately fell down dead.

Again, this harsh and startling judgment revealed their secret selfishness and deceit and served as a severe warning to the early church.

Why did God punish Ananias and Sapphira so severely for what seems like a fairly minor offense? The context is key: This happened in the very earliest days of the church. God poured out his Spirit in new ways at Pentecost and performed many signs and wonders through the apostles as the Good News spread rapidly.

Any deception or hypocrisy could have poisoned and corrupted the young Christian community. This severe judgment nipped that possibility in the bud while deeply impressing on observers the seriousness of truthfulness before God.

The account concludes simply: “Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events” (Acts 5:11). This holy fear promoted integrity throughout the growing church. Ananias and Sapphira’s shocking end served as a solemn warning against all hypocrisy, deceit, and dishonesty in representing one’s giving.

Their punishment reminds us that nothing is hidden from God.


After examining the evidence, the distinction of biggest biblical hypocrite falls squarely on Judas Iscariot. His intimate betrayal after following Jesus for years is unparalleled. While other figures acted hypocritically at times, none matched the egregiousness of Judas denying Jesus with a kiss.

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