Repentance - A Mini Overview


Meaning: (Metanoew) normally viewed as a change of mind, is built from the root (no) meaning mind, think, or perceive plus the preposition (meta) meaning with, in the middle of, or after. Hence repentance is after knowledge. And thus, on the basis of this after knowledge, a change of mind or opinion is assumed.

Use: The noun and verb form occur 46x in the New Testament. The related term (metamelomai), to regret (an after care) occurs 4x.

Mark 1:15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

Comment: One could argue that repentance = believing. Yet these two terms are clearly distinct. However, it is normally difficult to determine a difference in actual chronological outworking.

Acts 26:20 but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.

Comment: Whenever anyone professes repentance, it is always appropriate to look for evidences that the repentance is genuine. No fruit, no fruit tree. This speaks to the Lordship salvation controversy. Genuine repentance is a turning from sin and also to God.

2 Corinthians 7:10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Comment: This is a fascinating use of words – godly sorrow (lu,ph) results in genuine repentance (meta,noian) wilth no regret (avmetame,lhton). In other words repentance need not be a highly emotional experience!

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Comment: the context may tell us what men are expected to change their minds about. What is his promise?


Repentance is the point in a person’s life when he changes his mind, purpose, or opinion for the better. However, this abhorrence for the past life is coupled with an intent to and actual change to better conduct. So, the progression might be as follows: 1) an after thought 2) resulting in a change of mind 3) sometimes a regret for previous opinions or conduct and 4) change in conduct.

When does this repentance take place? Repentance is something that a person does; it is therefore not a prerequisite to the new birth. Rather it is a change of mind subsequent to the new birth. It may be primarily related to life activity and is a requisite to fruit bearing.

However, repentance is used overwhelmingly in appeals to the unregenerate.

John the Baptist: Matthew 3:2 "Repent, for bthe kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Jesus: Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Luke 13:3 "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

Peter: Acts 3:19 "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;

Thus, men are expected to repent so that they can be saved. However, they can not repent unless they are regenerated. And if they do repent, there will be tangible evidences of repentance found in their life.

© Copyright. Joseph Flatt. 2015. All rights reserved. May be used for educational purposes without written permission but with a citation to this source.