To repent means to change. Repentance is a change of thinking which results in a change of life.

Hebrews 6:1 talks of repentance from dead works. This means to forsake the works of death, or works which produce death.

1 . . . elementary principles of Christ . . . the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,

Repentance involves a change of mind -- waking up to reality, seeing things as they really are, and recognizing the error of your ways -- resulting in a change of action.

Repentance includes forsaking old patterns, habits, priorities, and all things that have controlled you (gods). Repentance means accepting Jesus as Lord!

To repent is to forsake all other gods -- and embrace Jesus Christ as your Lord and God. (Jesus allows no other gods before Him.)

Greek Word Meaning

The word translated repent in English New Testaments is the Greek word metanoeo.

W. E. Vine's Dictionary1 says metanoeo literally means to perceive afterwards, hence it signifies to change one's mind or purpose, and it always involves a change for the better.

Bullinger's Dictionary2 says metanoeo means, "to perceive afterwards, hence, to change one's mind and purpose. This change is always for the better, and denotes a change of moral thought and reflection; not merely to repent of, nor to forsake sin, but to change one's mind and apprehensions regarding it. Metanoeo denotes to reform, to have a genuine change of heart and life from worse to better."

Kittel3 says metanoeo means, "to change one's mind," or "to convert."

17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

15 . . . the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."

12 So they went out and preached that people should repent.

3 ". . . but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

19 "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

ACTS 17:30 NKJ
30 "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,

Used As A Noun

The noun form of the Greek word we translate as repentance is metanoya.

Vine1 says repentance means an after-thought, or change of mind. In the New Testament the subject chiefly has reference to repentance from sin, and this change of mind involves both a turning from sin and a turning to God.

The parable of the prodigal son is an outstanding illustration of repentance. (Luke 15:10-21)

In the Gospel of John repentance is not mentioned. Instead the effects are stressed in the active turning from sin to God by the exercise of faith, resulting in the new birth -- which no other Gospel mentions.

Bullinger2 says repentance means a change of mind from bad to good, not merely pain of mind, but reformation.

LUKE 24:47 NKJ
47 "and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

ACTS 20:21 NKJ
21 "testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

ACTS 26:20 NKJ
20 ". . . they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.

4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

10 For godly sorrow produces repentance to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Many mistake sorrow for repentance. As this verse shows, godly sorrow leads to repentance, but they are not the same thing.

9 The Lord is not . . . willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Grant Them Repentance

Unless God reveals truth to you there is no foundation for repentance. To have a change of mind we must first see the error of our ways.

25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,

ACTS 11:18 NKJ
18 . . . "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life."

31 "Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.


There is another Greek word, metamelomai, which means to have remorse or regret.

Bullinger2 says metamelomai means, "to rue, regret; to have dissatisfaction with one's self for what one has done, to change or alter one's purpose, have anxiety consequent on a past transaction; to have pain of mind, rather than change of mind; and change of purpose, rather than change of heart."

Kittel3 says, "Metanoya (repentance) means a change of heart either generally or in respect of a specific sin, whereas metamelomai means `to experience remorse.' Metanoya implies that one has later arrived at a different view of something, metamelomai that one has a different feeling about it."

"Remorse does not have to be pleasing to God. It can be simply a change in mood. It is often the natural result of imprudent and unjust action. In remorse (metamelomai) a man sees the bitter end of sin, in repentance (metanoya) he breaks free from it."

"Remorse comes of itself at the end of a sinful and foolish way. But a man is called to repentance by the one who brings the divine Word."

So, repentance has to do mostly with your thinking and therefore your actions -- not your feelings.

Repentance is associated with renewing the mind (Romans 12:2). When you know the truth -- truth makes you free as you act on it (John 8:32).


1W. E. Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.

2Critical Lexicon & Concordance to the English & Greek New Testament by E.W. Bullinger.

3Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Kittel).

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