A.T. Robertson in his Word Pictures of the New Testament at Mat. 3:2 wrote, "Broadus used to say that this is the worst translation in the New Testament. The trouble is that the English word, 'repent' means 'to be sorry again' from the Latin, repoenitet (impersonal). John did not call the people to be sorry, but to change (think afterwards) their mental attitudes and conduct."
The Greek has a specific word for feeling sorry. It is metamelomai, which is the word used for Judas at Mat. 27:3.

The verb is metanoeō: 34 times: basic lexical definition = change one's mind (21 times in the LXX)
The noun is metanoia: 24 times: basic lexical definition = a change of mind (1 time in the LXX)

From a change of mind the idea is often regret or remorse over some action committed. But the issue is not any remorse that might follow. The issue is first and foremost, the change of mind.

When the kingdom of God began to be proclaimed, first by John the Baptizer and then by Jesus, it carried a unique message that challenged the current belief system of the people. It was a very strong condemnation of the spiritual status of the people of Israel. It was a rebuke of the current spiritual mindset within the nation and a command to CHANGE from that belief system and believe something specific - the gospel.
The person must change his mind about his present belief system in order to TRULY accept the belief system of salvation by faith in the person and work of Jesus.
Since GOD is the focal point in any belief system (even atheism) any change of mind must be directed toward God.
This is seen clearly at Acts 20:21, where the gospel message is summarized as, "repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ."
In other words, a person must change his mind about his view/opinion/belief of God and adjust it to the specific belief in the gospel of the kingdom of God.
There are then two factors that are part of the required response to the gospel. It is first a change of mind and then it is faith in the specific details of the gospel. Mark 1:15, "CHANGE the mind and BELIEVE in the gospel."

The written record of what was proclaimed does not always provide all the details of what constituted "the gospel of the kingdom of God." But we learn by comparing all the information starting for example with John the Baptizer's proclamation at John 1:29, "behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."
What then is the core of the gospel message?
HIS WORK: John 1:29
HIS PERSON: Mark 1:7, "And he was proclaiming, saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to bend down and untie the straps of His sandals."

Paul's summary of John's ministry at Acts 19:4, “a baptism of repentance . . . believe in Him.”
Luke's summary at Luke 3:18, "so with many other exhortations also he proclaimed the gospel to the people."
John's summary at John 1:7-8, "He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light."

The gospel that John the baptizer proclaimed and the gospel that Jesus and the disciples proclaimed is the SAME gospel.
A. John proclaimed, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven (God) is at hand.” Mat. 3:2
At Mark 1:4, John’s message is summarized, “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (It is repentance for forgiveness; not baptism for forgiveness, Luke 24:47).

B. Jesus proclaimed, “The kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:15.
It is the same gospel and the same message. Believe in the Savior for the forgiveness of sins.
HIS WORK: Mark 10:45, "to give His life a ransom for many."
HIS PERSON: John 8:24, "Unless you believe that I am he, you shall die in your sins."
John 8:58, "before Abraham was, I am." John 10:30, "I and the Father are One."

C. After His resurrection, Jesus instructs the disciples to proclaim the very same message, “that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations,” (Lk 24:47).

D. And of course, this was the message proclaimed by the church from its beginning in 30 AD.
The message to ALL the people is, "that all everywhere should repent." (Acts 17:30).
Paul's summary of his ministry is recorded at Acts 26:20, "that in Damascus, Jerusalem, all of Judea and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God."

Repentance is not a change in behavior. It is not DOING something. It is thinking something.
However, along with the message to change the mind and believe is the exhortation to demonstrate a genuine change of mind and faith through one's change in behavior.
John's message: Luke 3:7-8, "So he was saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore produce fruits that are consistent with repentance."
Then John gave advice about what kind of behavior would be consistent with a genuine change of mind and faith in the gospel. Luke 3:9-10-14.
Paul's message: Acts 26:20, "but continually proclaimed to those in Damascus first, and in Jerusalem, and then all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they are to repent and turn to God, performing deeds consistent with repentance."
This is in fact an important factor regarding the Christian way of life. Eph. 2:8-10. We are saved by faith alone apart from works, but "good works" (righteous living according to the standards of love, 1 Cor. 13:4-8) should be manifested in the believer's life.
Ephesians 2:10, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."

(2) The issue of FAITH: The Greek word, pisteuō, means to trust something; to believe that something is true and to DEPEND on it AS true. With Christ as the object of faith, it means to totally trust the fact that HE is the one who died for your sins and that BY BELIEVING in Him, you will in fact, be forgiven all sins and given eternal life.
A. John the baptizer’s message: Acts 19:4, “a baptism of repentance . . . believe in Him.”
B. Christ’s message: Mark 1:15, “repent and believe in the gospel”
John 6:29, 40 and 12:36.
John 3:16, “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
C. The message of the apostles: Acts 15:7, that “the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.”
D. Acts 26:20, “that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds that evidence repentance.”
Romans 1:16, the gospel is “the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes.”

What does it mean when God "grants" repentance?
First we must recognize that the proper translation from the Greek is:
1. For the verb: metanoieō, is TO change the mind rather than repent.
2. For the noun: metanoia, is A change of mind.

This question emanates from 2 Tim. 2:25, where the believer is exhorted to continually correct those who are in opposition (to the truth) IF PERHAPS God may grant them repentance leading to the full-knowledge of the truth.

The first factor recognizes that Paul has in view the end result of a process that God enables, but is not directly produced by God.
The words, "if perhaps" translate the particle, māpote, which most frequently expresses the idea of purpose or result. The word, perhaps, is an interpretive translation which is not required or necessary. The reason that "perhaps" is added is because of the subjunctive mood with the verb (aorist active subj. of didomi), but that is the mood that is used to indicate the purpose or result, because the desired action is indeed, a potential. That is, they may or may not respond to the message and change their minds. The grammar easily allows for, "SO THAT God might give." In other words, the communicator of truth is going to speak words to those who are in opposition so that they can be convicted and BE ENABLED through that conviction to change their minds (repent).

The "enablement" or "giving of repentance" is not an ability that God sovereignly produces in someone, but rather an ability that is triggered when and because truth is taught. This act or process of enablement is called "the kindness of God" at Rom. 2:4, "the KINDNESS of God leads you to repentance." This does not say that God MAKES someone repent, but rather that His activity of kindness LEADS TO - that is, it prompts, elicits, encourages one to accept God's salvation provision. God's kindness, which comes from His love (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8) involves two basic things,
(1) the actual provision of Jesus as the sin bearer, and (2) the communication of the salvation message.

It is the "drawing" of God that uses the word of the gospel to convict and provide a positive influence on the soul concerning the truth of the gospel.
See Topic: The DRAWING of God

At Romans 10:17, we are taught that faith (the expression of trusting Christ) comes out from (ek) the experience of hearing, and that that experience of hearing, is through (dia) the word of (about) Christ. In other words, God ENABLES someone to repent/believe because He communicates the information that must be known. Knowledge of that information will then convict the soul of the hearer and will elicit either, acceptance (repentance) or rejection.

They will be convicted for certain, because that is what God's word does through the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11), and indeed, the very nature of the word of God. Hebrews 4:12, "
For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is a critic of the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

Examples of such conviction are found at Acts 2:37; 5:33 and 7:54, where we see both a positive response and two negative responses respectively. Accordingly, at 2 Tim. 2:25, whether these spiritual rebels will be convicted or not, is not the issue, but whether they will respond to that conviction with a positive or negative expression is the issue. If they respond with a positive expression and repent (change the mind), then it can be said that God gave them repentance since it is His convicting process that enabled them. Thus, Paul's terminology here, is looking at the end result of repentance and not at the mechanics. God performs the mechanics through the communication of the gospel message, but the end result is based on each person's own volitional choice.

The second factor is to recognize the universality of the salvation provision and invitation. That is, since Christ died for ALL, and ALL are invited to "repent" then there is no special act of God by which He determines or chooses only certain ones who will be "made" to repent.

The word, "give," is also used for this general provision of salvation which is extended to all people as an offer. Notice at Acts 5:31, that the provision of Jesus as the Savior, successful and exalted to the right hand of God, GIVES (didomi, aorist active infinitive) repentance and forgiveness to Israel.

In other words, since Jesus died for the sins of the people, salvation is given (offered) to Israel. But this is obviously an offer that is extended to the nation and not a universal forgiveness. The offer or invitation is that they (each individual) should repent and receive the result, which is the forgiveness of sins. The language at Acts 11:18 is similar, "Well, then, God has GIVEN (didomi, aorist active indicative) to the Gentiles also, the repentance that leads to life." Again, this is a universal PROVISION or invitation, but not a universal salvation.

When John the baptizer came proclaiming the gospel in the wilderness, his message was that the hearers should repent. God did not "give" repentance to anyone as a final result, but He did produce a conviction of the soul through the content of the message. On that basis, the final result can be said to be "from God" for without His efforts in convicting through the gospel message, the hearers would be unable to repent. For there to be a change of mind, the mind be exposed to new content.

Romans 10:13-15, "for Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
How then are they to call on Him in whom they have not believed? How are they to believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? But how are they to preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!"

Jesus too, invited His hearers to repent and believe the gospel as is recorded at Mark 1:15, and the extent of that invitation is clearly seen to be "whoever" (John 3:16).
And the ministry of the disciples prior to the crucifixion of Jesus was that people should repent (Mark 6:12).

After the resurrection, when the apostles were committed with the ministry of reconciliation, they were to proclaim, "repentance for the forgiveness of sins" to all the nations, (Luke 24:47).

Accordingly, God's message to ALL the people is, "that all everywhere should repent," (Acts 17:30).
And Paul's summary of his ministry is recorded at Acts 26:20, that in Damascus, Jerusalem, all of Judea and even to the Gentiles, "that they should repent and turn to God."

And finally, in Peter's statement at 2 Peter 3:15 that "The Lord . . . is not willing for anyone to perish, but for all to come to repentance," we see the idea that IF God "gives" repentance to anyone, it would have to be to all, for otherwise, He would be in violation of His very own longings.

Remember the sentiments of Jesus expressed toward the nation of Israel at Mat. 23:37; "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling." Why did He not gather them all to Himself? It was because they DID NOT want to gather to Him. Why does someone not repent - change their mind about God? It is certainly not because God does not want them to! Quite the opposite; God wants them all to repent. But they do not because they choose for themselves not to accept the salvation invitation that is extended to them in the gospel message.

Jesus invited all, "repent and believe the gospel." And the conclusion to it all, "He who believes in the Son, has everlasting life; but he who is disobedient to (unpersuaded by) the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."



Questions and comments are always welcome

Return to BIBLE FRAGRANCES index



©Ron Wallace, Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it,
but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's consent.


Home | Recent Additions | Studies | Commentary


Prophecy | Articles | Topical | About Us