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repentance new testament

Learn about The Meaning of words in the bible along with using indexes for further research. A blog on resources for New Testament study.

Repentance is a gift from God. When we repent, we are acknowledging that we have sinned and that we are turning back to God in obedience.

In the New Testament, Jesus teaches us how to repent. In Matthew 4:17-18, Jesus says: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The word “repent” here means to change your mind about something—in this case, changing our minds about sin and turning to God.

The next verse goes on to say that if we do not repent, then “the time will come when you will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” This is one of many passages throughout the New Testament that describe what happens when people don’t repent (see also Mark 8:38-40).

Repentance is a Biblical concept that represents the turning away from sin and the adoption of God’s way of life.

In the Old Testament, repentance is often associated with sin and wrongdoing. When a person repented, they were acknowledging their wrongdoing and asking to be forgiven. They also promised not to sin again, which was how they would be forgiven for their past sins.

In the New Testament, repentance is connected with salvation. Jesus said that people should repent or perish (Luke 13:3). Paul wrote to his converts at Corinth: “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19).

In both Testaments, repentance involves a change of mind or heart. In Acts 2:38 Peter says: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”

What does Scripture teach about repentance? The most common translation of “repent” is “turn” or “return”. Two requisites of repentance included in the sub are “to turn from evil, and to turn to the good.” Most critical theologically is the idea of returning to God, or turning away from evil. If one turns away from God, apostasy is indicated. Three times Ezekiel included God’s call to the people of Israel: “Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!” “Repent! Turn away from all your offenses”, “Turn! Turn from your evil ways”. Such a call was characteristic of the prophets.

Confession of sins is both commanded and frequently illustrated. When one is guilty of various sins, “he must confess in what way he has sinned” in order to receive atonement and forgiveness. Thus, confession belongs to repentance and is needed for divine forgiveness. A great prophecy/ promise is given in the Book of Isaiah: “The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins”.

In the New Testament, the key term for repentance is metanoia – It has two usual senses: a “change of mind” and “regret/remorse.” In both books of Mark and Matthew Jesus began his public proclamation with the call “Repent.” In addition, Paul is said to have preached to both Jews and Gentiles/Greeks to “turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus”

Repentance is only a condition of salvation and not its meritorious ground. The motives for repentance are chiefly found in the goodness of God, in divine love, in the pleading desire to have sinners saved, in the inevitable consequences of sin, in the universal demands of the gospel, and in the hope of spiritual life and membership in the kingdom of heaven.

True repentance leads a person to say, “I have sinned” and prove it with a 180-degree change of their direction.
Repentance requires true brokenness.
Repentance is NOT asking the Lord for forgiveness with the intent to sin again.
Repentance is an honest, regretful acknowledgement of sin with commitment to change.
Repentance leads us to cultivate godliness while eradicating habits that lead into sin. Learn more about the true meaning of repentance in the Scriptures and Bible verses below.

A Prayer for Daily Repentance
Dear Lord, thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you for not abandoning us to our mistakes, but for reaching out instead to bring us home. Help convict me of sin and help me accept your mercy without shame. Thank you for the love you have poured out for me and all of your children. Help me live out of that love today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A Prayer for Repentance and Restoration

Lord Jesus, I’m tired of the sin struggle in my life. I feel distant from You. My choices have not led me into the right places. I’ve listened to the whispers of my enemy instead of Your words in Scripture, and the result has been disastrous.

I once walked with you, my heart tender to Your leading. Yet little by little, I exchanged Your truths for temptations and deceit that led me away from You. Instead of taking thoughts captive and confessing them immediately, I allowed them to grow totally out of control. Repentance was not in my vocabulary. Blame, cover-ups, or trying to reason and rationalize sin never work. They only give birth to deeper sin entanglements.

You created me in Your own image, Lord. You know my thoughts before I speak them. You x-ray my heart and see through my excuses and intentions. Your Spirit warned me, but I ignored You. Disappointment and discouragement have taken their toll on me.

So today I’m confessing my desperate need for You. You have promised that if we will confess our sin, You will forgive us and make us clean again. Lord, I truly need Your forgiveness. Repentance is on my heart and lips. I want to turn around and head another direction—back to You, Lord. But I need Your help.

Just as You created the world out of nothing, Lord, create a clean heart out of my “nothingness.” You paid for my sin with your own death. Restore my life and the fellowship we once shared together. You don’t condemn me, and You won’t disown me; I am Your child forever. But I take all the blame—I own my own sin. I am the one who broke fellowship with You and am crushed over the way I treated You and Your name.

Lord, root out the darkness and light up my life with Your holy presence. Help me understand what went wrong. Show me how my destructive patterns first began. What did I allow to become more important than loving and honoring You? Why did I seek satisfaction in others or other things than You? You are the only One Who provides all my needs. You fill up the soul with deep down joy and peace beyond all understanding.

Lord, may your restoration include new boundaries around my life. I can’t flirt with sin and not be hurt. In restoring me, teach me how to say no again to things which could harm myself or my testimony. If my actions have wounded others, show me where and to whom I need to ask forgiveness or how to make amends. Help me to surround myself with positive encouragers who will hold me accountable and who will speak the truth in love. Truly, shame melts away and we are healed when we confess to others and ask for their help.

I understand that my repentance won’t eliminate the consequences of my sin. Knowing that You don’t hold our sins to our account—You remember them no more–and that You place them as far as the east is from the west both humbles me and fills me with amazement and gratitude. No consequence could ever be as painful as knowing how my sin hurt You or how You suffered for me out of love. Your crucifying death gave me eternal life with You. Lord, You place grace next to my regrets and give me hope for a new future.

Thank You, Lord, that sin does not disqualify us. Instead, like a runner who has fallen but who gets up again, I, too, am willing to start again and finish the race You have set for me.  

With Your restoration, Lord, perhaps I can help others find their way back to You again. I will not give my enemy the victory. Instead, I will accept Yours. Instead of a meltdown, with Your help I will allow Your Spirit to give me a hot heart for You, one that seeks You and wants to live for You the rest of my life. Thank You, Jesus, for Your sweet forgiveness and promised restoration.

New Testament Repentance: Repentance in the Gospels and Acts

I. Introduction

The books of the NT vary in the emphasis that they place on various doctrines. John’s Gospel, for example, is evangelistic in emphasis John 20:30-31). Galatians presents a defense of the Gospel in the face of the Judaizers, who were trying to pervert it. The Book of Revelation deals extensively with what is yet future.

This article will examine how Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John treat a specific doctrine–the doctrine of repentance.

Luke in his two-volume work, Luke-Acts, emphasizes repentance more than any other NT author. Nearly one half, or twenty-five of the fifty-eight uses of the primary NT terms for repentance (metanoeo and metanoia ) occur in Luke-Acts. On the other hand, there is not even one use of either term in John’s Gospel. This is especially surprising since John uses those terms twelve times in Revelation. Matthew and Mark use those terms eight and four times respectively.

Why this disparity–especially between Luke-Acts and John?

Scripture does not contradict itself. Different authors may have different emphases, but not disparate views, on a given doctrine.

We begin this study with a consideration of the requirement of eternal salvation as found in the Gospels and Acts.

II. The Gospel in the Gospels and Acts

The four Gospels and Acts present a united front. There is but one condition of eternal salvation: faith in Christ alone. The following references from John’s Gospel are clear on this point:

John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

John 6:47: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.”

John 11:25: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.

John 20:31: “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

Recently I read a paper on repentance and salvation at the 1989 Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society held in San Diego, California. I made the above point that John’s Gospel is clear that the sole condition of salvation is faith in Christ. During the question and answer period a person asked me why I had limited myself within the Gospels to John’s Gospel. Could I substantiate my point from the Synoptics?

Yes, the Synoptics also present faith as the one and only condition. However, they do so less often and less forcefully than John’s Gospel. Why? Because the Synoptics are written to people who were already believers. References to the Gospel in them are not central to their purposes. John’s Gospel, however, is written primarily to unbelievers John 20:30-31) and references to the Gospel are central to his purpose.

The hermeneutical principle celled “the analogy of faith” suggests that we can best understand unclear passages of Scripture by allowing related clear passages to shed light on them. This principle suggests that one should understand the occasional references to the Gospel in the Synoptics in light of the Gospel of John and not vice versa. John’s Gospel clearly says that the sole condition of salvation is faith in Christ. That will inform our understanding of any so-called problem passage in the Synoptics.

Some passages from the Synoptics clearly confirm that the sole condition of eternal salvation is faith in Christ.

Luke 8:12: “Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts; lest they should believe and be saved.” The sole condition of salvation given by the Lord here is faith in Him alone. All who believe are saved.

Acts 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. ” In direct answer to the question “What must I do to be saved?” Luke reports Paul’s sole condition: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Other passages from the Synoptics and Acts, though less clear, conform to this understanding.

Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in

Repentance in the Gospels and Acts 13

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