What is Repentance? What does it mean to Repent?
In this study we will take a close look at what this word means and how it fits into the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The first thing we need to understand is the exact meaning of the word “repent”. We know repenting is a fundamental and essential teaching in God’s holy word. With this in mind, we had better fully understand this particular foundational word. In the Greek we have 2 main words, repentance (G3341) and repent (G3340).
Repent: (Greek word : metanoeō) To think differently afterwards, to change one’s way of thinking, to turn.
Repentance: (Greek word : metanoya) To undergo a reversal of mind, to be reformed or changed morally.
In a nutshell, it means to change. So, in the scriptures below, apply these meanings to them.
Matthew 3:2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Matthew 3:11 “I baptize you with water for (1)repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the (2)Holy Spirit and (3)fire. (baptism of “fire” see Zach. 13:7-9)
Mark 1:4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of (1)repentance for the (2)forgiveness of sins. (Repeated in Luke 3:3)
Luke 3:8 (2)Bear fruits in keeping with (1)repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. (what is “Fruit”? see Micah 7:13 and Acts 26:20), (Scripture repeated in Matthew 3:8)
It is interesting that John the Baptist is making straight the path of Jesus by proclaiming repentance FIRST. We are just beginning to see the “order” in truly coming to Christ as God calls man by grace. How does this gift, through Christ, of forgiveness of sins, fit into this order? How does the “gift” continue when we fail? (Even in the Old Testament, the Israelites were instructed to repent! Deuteronomy 30:1,1 Kings 8:47,1 Kings 21:25, 2 Chronicles 6:37 ,2 Chronicles 6:38 , 2 Chronicles 7:14, 2 Chronicles 33:10, Job 8:1, Job 42:1, Job 42:6 , Psalm 7:12 , Psalm 78:34, Isaiah 1:27, Isaiah 30:15, Jeremiah 3:6, Jeremiah 5:1, Jeremiah 5:3 , Jeremiah 34:15, Ezekiel 14:6, Ezekiel 18:30, Hosea 6:1, Joel 1:13, Jonah 3:6,Zechariah 1:6)
Matthew 13 14-17 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. 15 For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. (also quoted in John 12:40)
Here we see the order of: 1. Hearing, 2. Understanding, 3. Turning, converting, 4.Being healed.
Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Repeated in Mark 1:15)
Matthew 11:20-21 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. (Repeated in Luke 10:13)
Matthew 12:41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. (Repeated in Luke 11:32)
Luke 5:31-32 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
Luke 13:3-5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Luke 15:7-10. 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. 8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Luke 16:30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ (Jesus tells the example of the rich man who did not change.) read the whole account in Luke16:19-31. Jesus was raised from the dead. Will you believe Him?
Luke 17:3-4 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
Luke 24:47 and that (1)repentance and forgiveness of sins (2)should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Do you see repentance first, then forgiveness of sins?)
Revelation 2:5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
Here we see the order of… 1. Being healed 2. Doing the works. 3. And…If not, the result of losing your “lampstand” How well can you walk in the dark?
Revelation 2:16 Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. Do you want Jesus “waring against you”?
Revelation 2:21-22 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works,
Revelation 3:3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.
Revelation 3:19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.
Revelation 9:20-21 The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, 21 nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts. Here we see again the result of the lack of repentance. (These types of sins are literal but also spiritually defined by Jesus in the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matt. 5-7.)
Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, “(1)Repent and be (2)baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the (3)forgiveness of your sins, and you will (4)receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 3:19-20 and 26 19 (1)Repent therefore, and turn (2)again, that your (3)sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of (4)refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may (5)send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”
Acts 5:31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give (1)repentance to Israel and (2)forgiveness of sins.
Acts 8:22 (1)Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be (2)forgiven you.
Acts 11:18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted (1)repentance that leads to (2)life.”
Acts 13:24 Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
Acts 17:30 The times of (1)ignorance God overlooked, but now he (2)commands all people everywhere to (3)repent,
Here we see God’s “Grace” toward man first, then a command to repent.
Acts 19:4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.”
Acts 20:21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Acts 26:20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should (1)repent and (2)turn to God, (3)performing deeds in (4)keeping with their repentance.
Romans 2:4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's (1)kindness is meant to (2)lead you to (3)repentance?
We see that it is because of God’s Kindness that He leads us to repentance.
2 Corinthians 7:9-10 As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were (1)grieved into (2)repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. 10 For (1)godly grief produces a (2)repentance that leads to (3)salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
2 Corinthians 12:21 I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.
2 Timothy 2:25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them (1)repentance (2)leading to a (3)knowledge of the truth, Here we see the practice of sin has to be removed from our life to restore our relationship with God.
Hebrews 6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
Hebrews 6:6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. The lesson here is: Do NOT test God’s grace!
Hebrews 12:17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. The lesson here is: Do NOT test God’s grace! (Read Gen. 25: 29-34)
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Jeremiah 36:2-3 “Take a scroll and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel and Judah and all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah until today. 3 It may be that the house of Judah will (1)hear all the disaster that I intend to do to them, so that every one may (2)turn from his evil way, and that I may (3)forgive their iniquity and their sin.”
This whole study boils down to one question: Have you truly “Repented”? Have you changed your way of thinking? Ask yourself this question. Are your pastors, elders, parents, ministers and church leaders teaching you this? Jesus warns against people who do not preach the truth or teach half the truth or a different gospel. I ask: “Is there any “healing” in teaching half the truth?” Jesus says: “You will know them by their fruits”. The fruits are the actions! Christian’s actions or fruits will reflect a true repentance.
Jesus shows us that repentance is an essential part of being a disciple of Christ and a part of His Kingdom. We also see that we are prone to error. This is where grace comes in. In the scriptures above, we see that we are to “Keep” in “Repentance”.
This is only possible by the Blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. As we see our errors and sins, we are called to repentance. If you make a mistake at work, do you just keep on making that same mistake, or do you try to fix the problem. Is the problem(s) or (sin) so overpowering that you cannot correct it on your own? Sure it is! Look at the example of how God freed the Israelites from the slavery in Egypt. God did it! We need to have faith that God will help us do the impossible. (Exodus, chapters 4, 5, 6)Are you struggling with forgiveness, substance abuse, sexual sins, pride, hatred, envy, money and anything that God hates? These things can enslave us indeed! It’s God’s will for us to be freed from the slavery of sin and become servants to Him through Jesus Christ. (Enslaved by sin…John 8:34-37)
Interesting note: Notice how repentance is never mentioned in the gospel of John? Why, If it’s such a foundational doctrine that’s so important to serving God and salvation? In the other three Gospels we see, repentance, that is, a change of mind or thinking is so critical. In the Gospel of John, this “change of mind” is not mentioned because the good “deeds” or “fruits” in Christ are emphasized in this gospel. How can you have the ”Faith” and “works” of being “Born again” if you do not have a “changed way of thinking”? So, how can you walk in Christ, if your mind is set on walking in a sinful way? Repentance is not mentioned, but the example is given in the words “sin no more” twice. The theme here is “change your actions”. Because it’s understood that a changed heart will result in a changed action(s). Scriptures supporting this changed actions in John are: John 3:1-15, John 3:36, John 5:14, John 5:29, John 8:11-12, John 6:45, John 8:51. John 12:40 There are more! The Apostle John emphasizes Jesus’ words of changed actions! Read the Epistle book of 1st John!!! Why 4 gospels when Jesus said, “the testimony of two men is true” This goes back to the Hebrew tradition of repeating things twice for very strong emphasis! (I.E. verily, verily)