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
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
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
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.”
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
John 8:58, "before Abraham was, I am." John 10:30, "I and the Father are
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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."