What is (Biblical) Repentance?

It’s not the sinner’s prayer, nor saying sorry, nor an alter call, nor trying to stop sinning in your own efforts. What is repentance according to the Bible?

One of the most misunderstood teachings of scripture mainly because of the lack of use of scripture in this short study we will explore verses and reflect upon scripture to understand soundly what genuine repentance means.

1. The “Message of Repentance”

2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Luke 5:32 – I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Acts 17:30 – And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

Matthew 9:13But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

2. The Meaning of the Original Words

The main words in the Greek New Testament for repentance are the noun metanoia (“repentance”) and the verb metanoeo (“to repent”) these Greek words meant to change one’s mind.


Romans 2:4 – Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

2 Corinthians 7:10 – For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

THE BASIS OR REPENTANCE IS A SINNER KNOWING THE GOODNESS OF GOD THROUGH THE HEARTFULL CONVICTION OF THE WORD WHICH IS GENUINE BELIEVING that to be saved, one must turn in faith to Christ the Son of God (Savior) alone, believing on Him for the forgiveness of sins and His Resurrection which is the proof of Eternal life to everyone that believeth (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, John 5:24). 

Acts 20:21 – Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faithtoward our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:8-17  – But what saith it? The word is nigh (near) thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

Mark 1:15 – And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Carefully notice what the Jesus Christ DIDN’T say “repent ye, and forsake your sins.” No, rather, He said, “repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Which is the simplicity of Believing the Gospel of Salvation (Ephesians 1:13) since many teach tonally by error you have to forsake all your sins. T he next question is how can you do that and how do you know it is sin? Can you remember all your sins? How about the sins that you have not committed yet? How can you forsake all sins when you are still in this flesh? Many preachers of such teaching have not provided simple and clear answers on how to turn away from sin. They go on and on about forsaking sin but never really identify the steps, which is why many are confused since they mistake sanctification (which is biblical separation) as repentance or worse, they mistake it with “penance”.

3. Truth in Repentance

It is true saying that the truth hurts in a way simply it is to convict and to each truth given and opened is a door of a purpose and in repentance it is to be a mirror of our true stance with God.

2 Timothy 2:25 – In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

John 8:32 – And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

2 Corinthians 13:8 – For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.

4. The Relationship of Law and Repentance

In the study of the God’s law one should realize it is to define what sin is.

Galatians 3:24-25 – Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Acts 5:31  – Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel , and forgiveness of sins

Israel had the law

Romans 9:3-4 – For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

Standard of righteousness for Israel

Romans 10:5 – For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.

Note: Keep in mind also that LAW even was established is not of Faith…

Galatians 3:12And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

Function of the Law

Psalm 19:7The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

1 Timothy 1:8-11But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

Romans 3:19-20 – Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Romans 7:7 – What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

Romans 3:31 – Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

If a given sinner needs to be convicted or what to understand what sin is the sound use of the law is necessary in convicting what sin is which leads to a deeper realization that beyond the realizing of what sin is to see one as a “sinner”.

John the Baptist’s call for Repentance

Acts 13:23-24 – Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel .

Gentiles have not the Law

Romans 2:14-15 – For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

Gentiles and Repentance

Acts 11:18 – When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

Repentance and John’s Gospel

One of the most striking facts about the doctrine of repentance in the Bible is that this doctrine is totally absent from John’s gospel but this is where the understand of 1 Corinthians 1:22 “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:”

Since as this has great importance in understanding the importance of the Doctrine of Creation or the Genesis account. Since as the Jews have been given the Torah or the 5 book of Moses ( Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) and being this was absent to the Gentiles in understanding the Gospel of John we see that besides it is the clearest among the 4 gospels which teach in regards to the Deity of the Lord Jesus  John 1:1-3

John 1:1-3 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Which is consistently parallel to the book of Genesis that shows a comparison of the Lord Jesus as the Creator.

Paul on Creation, the Gospel and Repentance

Acts 17:21-35 – (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens , I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.  And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:  Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.

Note: In witnessing, depending on the varying revelation on focus of things, it is sound to say that the study of Creation, Law, and Gospel by the use of scripture is necessary in witnessing so as to help someone coming to God establish a good foundation on the Faith.

Bottom Line

In regards to repentance in this study in witnessing to someone, it is important to use scripture and refer things pertaining to God as it will guide someone to realize the true will of God. As evangelists, one of our major functions as “messengers” is to convict by preaching or educate by teaching via planting the seeds of Truth and being light in the dark world. May this encourage further to go about studying scripture and even now and then doing some memory verses or marking chapters so as to be better equipped in answering every person that asketh of the reason as to why you believe what you believe in Jesus Name’.

2 thoughts on “What is (Biblical) Repentance?

  1. I just want to thank you for your ministry I’ve been involved in the the word of faith teaching off and on not has a false prophet or minister but by having a false teacher mentor me off and on I’m glad I found you


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