Metanoéo: True Meaning of Biblical Repentance


Repentance is not just saying sorry neither is it penance, but a radical change of mind

Repentance in the Old Testament

Repentance (Nacham; to be sorry) in the Old Testament is a lifestyle and a ritual. Sin has no place in God’s people. Therefore, they must turn away from evil and turn to God. (Ez 18:30; Isa 45:22 ; 55:7 ; Joel 2:12-13)

Repentance in the New Testament

Repentance in the New Testament uses the Greek word metanoia (μετανοέω; verb). A strong desire that goes with a radical decision to turn away from sin and unto Christ.

Academic definition

Repentance is a compound word from the Greek meta- + noein (Metanoein; μετάνοια), according to Mirriam-Webster. In Wikipedia, metanoia is an after-thought best described as “conversion” and “reformation.”

Apologist Paul Washer describes metanoia as a verb of motion and mental activity. For J. I. Packer, repentance is a “fruit of faith,” inseparable from “saving faith.” It is turning to Christ as Lord and Savior.

a strong desire that goes with a radical decision to turn away from sin & unto Christ.

Is repentance requirement for salvation?

1. Repentance seeks the mind of Christ

Before one’s conversion through Christ, the mind of a sinner is hostile towards God. It refuses to submit (Romans 1:21; 8:7). When we receive Christ, our soul regenerates. The light of Jesus illuminates our minds, and we see things of God.

Luke 5:32
I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.

2. Repentance is our response to God’s love

As our response to God’s love, we choose to pursue a holy and pleasing life. We hate what God hates and love what God loves. As a result, our minds and heart are excited to pursue the “mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:16)

Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what the will of God is, what is right and acceptable and perfect.

3. Repentance is a daily

The “Gospel of ABC” is shallow when repentance is set aside as a one-time experience. It is a continuing activity that begins with the mind, the reason we must desire the “mind of Christ.” We will always be a work in progress on earth.

Philippians 1:6
Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

4. We “Bear Fruit” as evidence of faith and repentance

The evidence of faith is we continue to grow in repentance. You cannot bear fruit without Jesus. Likewise, a sinful lifestyle leads to bad fruit. Our part is to respond to God’s call to bear fruit and live life to the fullest.

Acts 2:28
Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.


5. Don’t expect a perfect “one-time” repentance

Porn, transgender or gay lifestyle, homosexual or lesbian relationship, and adultery have no place in Christian life. We must repent of it (change your mind) when it occurs in our mind. Being tempted is not yet a sin.

Therefore, repentance is not one time experience but a born-again journey. Ask Jesus to give you a heart that seeks “holiness and fear God.” Holy fear is inspired by love and reverence for Jesus and His sacrifice.

Hebrews 10:26
“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins…

6. Repentance is part of true faith

Repentance is both a gift and command that comes with faith. Jesus spoke about repentance as a requirement for salvation. In Martin Luther’s 95 Thesis, his introduction was the call of Jesus to a “lifetime of repentance.” (Matt. 4:17)

Romans 2:4
…God’s kindness is intended to lead us to repentance.

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