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Question: what is repentance?
Acts 20:20 “how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house,
21 “testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
In summary, Paul tells the Ephesian elders how he proclaimed to them everything, and he specifically mentions repentance and faith toward Jesus.

We know from the letter to the Ephesians some of the topics that Paul must have taught them during his three year stay in Ephesus: predestination, God’s purposes, our dead nature, the life given by His Spirit, the gifts given to the church, salvation by grace, practical living, forgiveness, submission, marriage, parenting, and the armor of God. But of all that Paul taught in those three years, specifically repentance toward God and Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ are emphasized here in his farewell to the Ephesian elders. This must have been Paul’s main message, and I believe it should also be our main message as Christians in 2013.

What is Repentance?

I am not a Greek scholar, and I have not even taken a Greek language class. All the information I give here is referenced at the end of this post from the Blue Letter Bible Study App. The Greek word translated here as repentance means “a change of mind”. Tracing this all the way back to the two Greek words that make up this word, the first word means: to understand/ to think/ to consider; and the second Greek word means: with/after/afterwards. Therefore, Paul is proclaiming to them to change their mind toward God. He is saying, after they learn about God, this will give them a changed understanding, changed thoughts, and new things to consider.

Now how did the English Bibles come up with the word repentance out of all that? Well, if you trace the word repentance back in English it comes to mean regret. You may ask, regret seems much different than a changed mind toward God, so how can this be reconciled? I believe It starts by what a person learns about God regarding His nature and His personality. As we learn about Him, our mind, thoughts, understanding, and considerations will change. Obviously, God’s nature is a big subject to learn, but the subject matter is narrowed by the next phrase in the verse, that is, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. What do you think about when you hear the name of Jesus?

I think of
Sacrifice, and much more.

Now, when you think and consider those things, with the help of the Holy Spirit, your understanding and mind will change.

I begin to think
God loves me,
God is holy,
I have sinned against Him,
He must judge my sin because He is just,
Jesus was judged and sentenced in my place.

When my mind changes, soon my behavior will change.
I will want to Love God back,
I will want to do right (knowing I will still often fail)
I will be sorry and regretful of my sin,
I will agree that I should be judged,
I will be grateful for Jesus, and be willing to receive His forgiveness.

In short, with God’s help of illuminating my mind through his words by His Spirit, I will regret/repent of my sin and turn to Christ for forgiveness.

What is Faith?

Paul testified not only of repentance toward God, but of repentance’s companion, that is, Faith, and specifically faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus has three parts:
To know the facts about Him,
To believe the facts are true,
To trust Him, to rely on Him, and to be totally dependent upon His work on the cross alone for salvation from sin.

Faith is like swimming. You may know how to swim, you may even believe those facts are true, but you must have faith to trust the facts will work by pushing off the side wall and into the pool, gliding on the water, kicking your feet, propelling the body with the arms – there you go, now you’re swimming!

How does it work?
Now let’s put this together – repentance and faith.
Do you see God’s good nature?
Do you see how you have sinned against Him?
Doesn’t that cause you to be sorry?
Don’t you regret that you have sinned against him?
Doesn’t that cause you to want to reconcile with Him?
Don’t you want to do right and be at peace with Him?

But you’re thinking, I can’t be at peace with Him, I’m always going to fail Him in some way. You’re also thinking, my sin must be judged, so you begin to think it’s impossible, I can never be saved!!

But then it comes to your mind, wait…, there is hope!!! Jesus Christ died in my place for my sin!! He loved me so much to die for me!
He died for all my sins: past, present and future.

You think, Yes, I know this, and I believe it’s true. Then you push off in faith. You trust His substitutionary sacrifice on your behalf. You call upon Him as your Lord and Savior. You thank Him. You rest in Him.

There you go, now your swimming! Now you’re swimming in God’s grace.


God bless, Bob


Greek definitions below
Transliteration: metanoia
Pronunciation: me-tä’-noi-ä
Part of Speech: feminine noun
Root Word (Etymology): from G3340
Outline of Biblical Usage:
a change of mind, as it appears to one who repents, of a purpose he has formed or of something he has done
KJV Translation Count:
24 Total repentance 24

Transliteration: metanoeō
Pronunciation: me-tä-no-e’-ō
Part of Speech: verb
Root Word (Etymology): from G3326 and G3539
Outline of Biblical Usage:
to change one’s mind, i.e. to repent
to change one’s mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins
“Repentance (metanoia, ‘change of mind’) involves a turning with contrition from sin to God; the repentant sinner is in the proper condition to accept the divine forgiveness.” (F. F. Bruce. The Acts of the Apostles [Greek Text Commentary], London: Tyndale, 1952, p. 97.)
KJV Translation Count:
34 Total repent 34

Transliteration: meta
Pronunciation: me-tä’
Part of Speech: preposition
Root Word (Etymology): a primary preposition (often used adverbially)
Outline of Biblical Usage:
with, after, behind
KJV Translation Count:
473 Total with 345, after 88, among 5, hereafter + 5023 4, afterward + 5023 4, against 4, not tr 1, misc 32

Transliteration: noeō
Pronunciation: no-e’-ō
Part of Speech: verb
Root Word (Etymology): from G3563
Outline of Biblical Usage:
to perceive with the mind, to understand, to have understanding
to think upon, heed, ponder, consider
KJV Translation Count:
14 Total understand 10, perceive 2, consider 1, think 1

English etymology of the word repent

repent (v.)
c.1300, “to feel such regret for sins or crimes as produces amendment of life,” from Old French repentir (11c.), from re-, here probably an intensive prefix (see re-), + Vulgar Latin *penitire “to regret,” from Latin poenitire “make sorry,” from poena (see penal). The distinction between regret (q.v.) and repent is made in many modern languages, but the differentiation is not present in older periods. Related: Repented; repenting.

repentant (adj.)
early 13c., from Old French repentant “penitent” (12c.), present participle of repentir (see repent).

repentance (n.)
c.1300, from Old French repentance “penitence” (12c.), from present participle stem of repentir (see repent).
Repentance goes beyond feeling to express distinct purposes of turning from sin to righteousness; the Bible word most often translated repentance means a change of mental and spiritual attitude toward sin. [Century Dictionary]
mend (v.)