Luther on I Timothy 4.
2. Through the pretensions. This hypocrisy, nevertheless, presents an attractive appearance. Unless the spirit is certain and pure in the righteousness of faith, one cannot understand or judge Paul. What Paul calls “of error” must appear as the Spirit of truth. “To depart from faith” must mean to defend faith. In this way the apostates of faith have the name that they are the true church, that they are defending the faith against heresy. Thus the pope has this title; he rules the church and battles against heresy. We who are true Christians are the apostates. Therefore we must look at these words carefully with the apostle himself bearing witness, because he says, “through pretensions.” Where hypocrisy exists, there is so good an appearance that the whole world is deceived, except those who have the Spirit. There is nothing which looks better than hypocrisy. It carries the title of God, Christ, righteousness, truth, church. It has the applause of the whole world. The papists have these titles. When they read them, they thought that they had to fight for the faith. Of liars. This deceives the world, the attractive appearance, the pomp of titles, works, and praises, because they tell their lies. Nevertheless, they have the power of error. This, we read in Thessalonians (2 Thess. 2:10), is hypocrisy. To them it is effectiveness, for hypocrisy is the effectiveness of error. If such a person were to say, “I am the devil, the father of lies,” who would accept him? He would be without effectiveness. But he says, “I am truth, the Holy Spirit, God, Christ, Scripture. Here is the Word of God, the Gospel.” There it becomes an effectiveness. Also, good works must be added. Now he will have the power to be able to be very effective in telling his lies, as if he were speaking words of exceptional truth. This is what hypocrisy does. We are called hypocrites, liars.