Purpose of Guarding the Treasure

The purpose of this blog is to encourage readers to invest their time into the Word of God and "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you." Paul wrote these words to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:14) in his presumed last letter before his execution. May we be those who see the word of God as a treasure, guarding it with our lives, investing in it with our hearts and minds, and reaping the fruit of an abundant life while getting to know the God who loves us and created us for His marvelous pleasure and glory.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rethinking Repentance


Two different Greek words in the New Testament

  • metanoeo (metanoia n.) – "meta" change, "noeo" thinking, a change of mind, used 56 times in the NT, translated "repent," "repented," "repents" or "repentance"
  • metamelomai – "meta" change, "melomai" emotions, to regret, used 6 times in the NT, translated "regretted," "remorse,"

One Greek word translated "irrevocable" and "without regret"

  • ametameletos – "a" not, "meta" change, "meletos" emotions, used 2 times in the NT

A Study of the New Testament Passages

John the Baptist Preached a "Baptism of Repentance"

Matthew 3:1-12 Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet, saying, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight!'" Now John himself had a garment of camel's hair, and a leather belt about his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea, and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves,' We have Abraham for our father'; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. And His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

Mark 1:2-5 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, "Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way; The voice of one crying in the wilderness,' Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight.'" John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

Luke 3:2-8 in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins; as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight. 'Every ravine shall be filled up, And every mountain and hill shall be brought low; And the crooked shall become straight, And the rough roads smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'" He therefore began saying to the multitudes who were going out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father,' for I say to you that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

Matthew, Mark and Luke give three gospel accounts of the earthly ministry of John the Baptist. John was the forerunner for the Messiah, sent to prepare the way for the Lord. The nation of Israel needed to wake up from their slumber and recognize and the Messiah and His kingdom was at hand. The nation may have given up hope in the promised Messiah and John implores them to change their mind about the Messiah and realize that He was among them! The authors describe John as "preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." Again, by the people changing their mind about Jesus and identifying with Him as the Messiah Savior they would receive forgiveness of sins. Persons from Judea and Jerusalem who had changed their mind were confessing their sins and preparing their heart to receive the Messiah, being baptized in the Jordan River. John promised that Jesus would baptize believers with the Holy Spirit (Pentecost) and fire (judgment). John also addressed the Pharisees and Sadducees who came out to see him, calling them a "brood of vipers." He warned them to "flee from the wrath to come" by following through with their change of mind though association with Jesus as Messiah, rather than clinging to their ancestral father Abraham who also promised and believed in the Messiah (John 8:31-59). The wrath of God abides on those who have not believed in Jesus. (John 3:36) However, Jesus saves all believers in Him from the wrath of God to come. (Romans 5:9)

Jesus Preaches Repentance

Matthew 4:12-17 Now when He heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles--The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light, And to those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, Upon them a light dawned." From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Mark 1:14-15 And after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

Jesus echoes the message preached by John the Baptist, urging people to change their mind about Him and believe that He is the promised Messiah. Many had dismissed Him as the son of Joseph the carpenter from Nazareth (Matthew 13:55, Luke 4:22, John 6:42). Yet Jesus is the Messiah, "the time is fulfilled" as was spoken by the prophets (Luke 4:17-21), He is "the kingdom of heaven" at hand and He is the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29) The people needed to change their minds about Jesus and believe that He is their promised Messiah.

Jesus Reproaches Unrepentant Cities

Matthew 11:20-21 Then He began to reproach the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

Luke 10:13-15 "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment, than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will be brought down to Hades!

Jesus had performed many miracles in Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, and yet most people in those regions had not changed their mind about Him being the promised Messiah. As such, He compares them to the pagan Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon, peoples considered to be heathen dogs to the Jews. Jesus says that if He had performed the same miracles in those pagan regions, the people would have changed their mind about Him a long time ago even to the point of mourning in "sackcloth and ashes" as a sign of their repentance. Jesus must have marveled at their unbelief saying "woe to you" repeatedly (Mark 6:6).

Men of Nineveh/Queen of the South Will Condemn the Unrepentant

Matthew 12:38-42 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered Him, saying, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You." But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." The men of Nineveh shall stand up with this generation at the judgment, and shall condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South shall rise up with this generation at the judgment and shall condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.

Luke 11:29-32 And as the crowds were increasing, He began to say, "This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so shall the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South shall rise up with the men of this generation at the judgment and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh shall stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

The scribes and Pharisees continue in their unbelief in Jesus as the Messiah. To taunt Him they ask for a sign. Jesus gives them the sign of Jonah, foretelling of His dwelling in death within the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. After Jonah was released from the belly of the sea monster, he preached the following to Nineveh, "But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent, and withdraw His burning anger so that we shall not perish?" (Jonah 3:8-9) The men of Nineveh responded in obedience to the preaching of Jonah and God "relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it." (Jonah 3:10) These men "repented at the preaching of Jonah," but will not repent at the preaching of the Messiah! The Queen of the South will also join in this condemnation of them as she came from the ends of the earth to hear Solomon and yet these people will not come even a short distance to believe in the Messiah, the very embodiment of wisdom!

Chief Priests and Elders Remain Unrepentant

Matthew 21:28-32 "But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go work today in the vineyard.' And he answered and said, 'I will, sir'; and he did not go."And he came to the second and said the same thing. But he answered and said, 'I will not'; yet he afterward regretted it and went. Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The latter." Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax-gatherers and harlots did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.

The chief priests and elders questioned Jesus in the temple, challenging His authority. Jesus turned the question back to them inquiring about the source of the baptism of John the Baptist, whether it was from heaven or from men. They were stumped and would not answer His question. Jesus then told them a story of two sons who were asked by their father to work his vineyard. One son did the will of the father working the vineyard even though initially he had told his father that he would not. This son regretted telling his father no and was compelled to be obedient to his father's will. Jesus states that may tax collectors and prostitutes exhibit more faith in God than the religious leaders because they believed the testimony of John concerning the Christ and accepted His offer of righteousness by faith. The chief priests and elders did not believe the testimony of John even after "the tax-gathers and harlots did believe him." Their pride and arrogance got in the way of them accepting the testimony of John and feeling a sense of remorse "so as to believe him."

Judas' Repentance Leads to Suicide

Matthew 27:1-5 Now when morning had come, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put Him to death; and they bound Him, and led Him away, and delivered Him up to Pilate the governor. Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." But they said, "What is that to us? See to that yourself!" And he threw the pieces of silver into the sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself.

Judas betrayed Jesus and delivered Him up to the chief priests and elders. At the time of his betrayal, it is not likely that Judas truly believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah or else why would he have betrayed Him? Yet, we must also remember that it was Peter, clearly a believer in Jesus as Messiah, that betrayed Jesus in the heat of the moment by denying he even knew Him (Matthew 26:69-75). After this betrayal, Judas felt remorse for what he had done and repented to chief priests and elders. This means he changed his mind about his evil deed and regretted his decision to betray Jesus to them. He even says, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." Would he not have talked to the other disciples and would they not have exhorted him as to the error of his ways in betraying the Messiah? Whatever the cause, maybe just his conscience, he clearly regretted his transgression. In confronting the chief priests and elders, they blew him off and told him that his misdeed was none of their concern. It was too late – Jesus was on His way to crucifixion, the desire of the Jews. His misdeed bothered him so much that he threw the silver into the sanctuary and hung himself. His repentance (remorse) led to his suicide! Could Judas have changed his mind about Jesus being the Messiah after all? It is not clear from this passage. But if only he could have changed his mind and come to realize that Jesus still loved him and offered him forgiveness from this grave transgression in the same way he forgave Peter and the other disciples for their betrayal of Him.

The Twelve Preach Repentance

Mark 6:7-13 And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs; and He was giving them authority over the unclean spirits; and He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belt; but to wear sandals; and He added, "Do not put on two tunics." And He said to them, "Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town. And any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake off the dust from the soles of your feet for a testimony against them." And they went out and preached that men should repent. And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them.

Jesus taught in the synagogue in his own home town of Nazareth on the Sabbath. They did not receive Him as the Messiah, "and He wondered at their unbelief." (v6a) Jesus sent out the twelve, including Judas Iscariot, with a tunic, staff and sandals to preach in Galilee "that men should repent." The Galileans needed to change their mind about Jesus and believe that He is the Messiah. In their current state, they were unbelieving just as those in Jesus' home town of Nazareth.

The Great Physician Calls Sinners to Repentance

Luke 5:29-32 And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax-gatherers and other people who were reclining at the table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with the tax-gatherers and sinners?" And Jesus answered and said to them, "It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."

Jesus has just healed a paralyzed man and forgiven his sin. Immediately the scribes and Pharisees accused Him of blasphemy saying that only God can forgive sins. Jesus then visited Levi the tax collector at his office and said, "Follow me." (v27) Levi followed Him and put together a large reception in his house for Jesus. A great crowd attended including tax collectors and other "sinners." The scribes and Pharisees began to murmur to the disciples about their association with "tax-gathers and sinners." Jesus' response was direct, "It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." Obviously the scribes and Pharisees saw themselves as "well" and "righteous" rather than "sick" and "sinners." They were gravely mistaken "as it is written, "There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one." (Romans 3:10-12) All are sinners and in "need of a physician." Jesus communicates clearly that as the Great Physician He has come to call the sinners to a change of mind. Sinners need to change their mind about Jesus and their sin and ultimately realize that they need Him as their Savior from sin.

Repent or Perish

Luke 13:1-5 Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And He answered and said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."

Among the multitudes present, some gave Jesus a report concerning Galileans killed by Pilate while they were offering sacrifices according to the Law. Jesus uses this example and another involving 18 innocent persons who were killed by a falling tower in Siloam to make the point that being killed or not being killed is not necessarily a measure of a person's righteousness or unrighteousness. Because we live in a fallen world, all are capable of dying at any time and it is only by the grace of God that we are allowed to live. Jesus' warning is clear, "unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." Failure to think rightly about the Son of Man will result in eternal separation from God. However, "whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16b)

Heaven Rejoices Over a Repentant Sinner

Luke 15:7-10 "I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!' In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

Jesus speaks two parables in response to grumbling scribes and Pharisees who accuse Jesus of receiving sinners and eating with them. The first parable involves a man with 100 sheep and loses one. Upon finding the one lost sheep, he rejoices and celebrates with his friends and neighbors. The second parable involves a woman with 10 silver coins and loses one. Upon finding the one lost coin, she rejoices and celebrates with her friends and neighbors. Jesus relates both of these parables to a lost sinner who repents resulting in the rejoicing of the heavenly hosts. The heavens rejoice over sinners coming to the knowledge of the truth and finding forgiveness from God through Jesus Christ. These parables are immediately followed by the story of the prodigal son and the expectant father, another illustration of repentance. The prodigal son repents, that is he comes to his senses and realizes the foolishness of his plight saying, "'How many of my father's hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.' And he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him." (Luke 15:17b-20)

A Rich Man Believes His Family Will Repent

Luke 16:19-31 "Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day. And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.' But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.' And he said, 'Then I beg you, Father, that you send him to my father's house--for I have five brothers-- that he may warn them, lest they also come to this place of torment.' But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.' But he said, 'No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!' But he said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.'"

Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees in this passage, those "who were lovers of money" (v14) and surely deemed themselves as the righteous among men. However, they were not inwardly righteous in their hearts, but far from God. To illustrate Jesus tells them what is apparently a true story (note that He does not call this a parable). A rich man and Lazarus, a poor hungry man with sores, die. Lazarus is taken by the angels into Abraham's bosom located within the heart of the earth. Upon death, the rich man realizes his unpleasant fate – he is in Hades, in agony, tormented in flames and longing for water, languishing in much the same way as Lazarus did while on earth. The rich man wishes to be in comfort within the bosom of Abraham, but there is no access from agony to comfort because of a great chasm between them. The rich man then begs Abraham to send Lazarus back to earth to warn his father and five brothers of the fate that awaits them and urge them to change their mind about God and riches. He believed that "if someone goes to them from the dead they will repent." But Abraham correctly states that if they would not listen to Moses and their own Prophets, they would surely not believe a poor insignificant resurrected dead man. His rich family would not change their mind about their riches, their self-righteousness or their need of salvation. Their wealth was their god. The rich young ruler shared a similar fate - money was his god and he saw himself as "righteous," having no room for Jesus or the salvation that was offered by Him (Matthew 19:16-24).

Forgive the Repentant

Luke 17:3-4 "Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' forgive him."

Jesus in talking with his disciples discusses stumbling blocks (i.e. the Pharisees) that were causing the "little ones to stumble." To emphasize the severity of false teaching, Jesus said, "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble." (v1-2) Jesus then addressed a disciple's responsibility toward his brothers caught up in false teaching. If a fellow brother is causing others to stumble, the disciple is to sternly correct and exhort him. If the brother realizes the error of his ways, the disciple should forgive him. Finally, Jesus addresses the depth of this forgiveness emphasizing that we must always forgive a repentant brother.

Proclamation of Repentance for Forgiveness of Sins

Luke 24:45-47 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

At the close of this gospel, Luke gives us the closing remarks of Christ before His ascension to heaven. Jesus instructed His disciples concerning His fulfillment of the words of "the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms." (v44) Christ opened the minds of His disciples just as the Holy Spirit does for us today so that they might "understand the Scriptures." Jesus communicates the gospel, "that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day" and the response to the gospel, "that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations." Believers in the gospel must share the message of Jesus Christ so that all men might change their mind about Jesus Christ and believe in Him for everlasting life.

Peter Preaches Repentance at Pentecost

Acts 2:37-39 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" And Peter said to them, "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself."

Peter, surrounded by the other eleven apostles, boldly and in the power of the Holy Spirit, preaches the gospel to the "men of Judea, and all [those] who live Jerusalem" (i.e. the Jews). (v14) The Holy Spirit had come as foretold by Jesus, fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus, and yet many of the men witnessing this marvelous event dismissed the apostles saying they were drunk with sweet wine. Peter boldly made his defense, first testifying of Joel's prophecy concerning this event in which God's Spirit would be poured out "upon all mankind." (v17) Peter then turned his testimony toward the Christ, proclaiming that Jesus is the Messiah who was "delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God…nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put…to death…God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power." (v23-24) Peter continued his compelling testimony concerning the Christ, "This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses…Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ-- this Jesus whom you crucified." (v32,36) Having heard this truth, the men were "pierced to the heart," literally violently pricked or stunned in conviction by the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11), and asked in desperation, "Brethren, what shall we do?" Peter answers, "Repent…for the forgiveness of your sins…and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ…and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." These brethren and the nation of Israel as a whole had rejected Jesus Christ as the Messiah and needed to change their minds and believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Peter preached a similar message in the following chapter again urging the nation of Israel to repent and return their belief to Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah.

Peter Preaches Repentance at Solomon's Portico

Acts 3:18-21 "But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.

Peter and John were on their way to the temple for the hour of prayer. A man, lame from his mother's womb, was at the gate of the temple begging for alms. Peter through the power of the Holy Spirit healed this man, giving him the ability to walk. "And all the people saw him walking and praising God…and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him." (v9-10) Peter directs credit to where credit is due regarding this miracle saying, "on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all." Peter informs the brethren that they "acted in ignorance" concerning the Christ and needed to "repent therefore and return, that yours sins may be wiped away." The brethren needed to change their mind about Jesus as the Messiah and return to Him for salvation so that their sins could be erased. In addition, the nation of Israel needed to change their mind about Jesus as Messiah for "times of refreshing…and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed" to rule and reign as king, bringing the kingdom of God to earth. The apostles asked Jesus about the timing of the "restoration" of the kingdom to Israel just before His ascension, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6b). Instead Jesus turned their focus to the broader and imminent mission of making disciples and spreading the gospel to the whole earth through the power of the Holy Spirit. Despite this call of repentance by Peter, the nation continued in their rejection of Jesus as the Christ resulting in a "partial hardening" of Israel even to this day (Romans 11:25). However, when the nation does repent and believe that Jesus is the Christ the "period of restoration of all things" will take place and the words of the prophets will be fulfilled.

Peter and the Apostles' Defense Before the Council

Acts 5:29-32 But Peter and the apostles answered and said, "We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him."

Peter and the apostles were effectively preaching the gospel in Jerusalem as "more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number." (v14) The high priest and his Sadducee associates, "filled with jealousy," had the apostles imprisoned by force. (v17-18) An angel of the Lord released them and instructed them to "stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life." (v20) In obedience they preached the gospel in the temple. Again the apostles were apprehended, this time without force, and were questioned by the high priest before the Council. The high priest said, "We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us." If the high priest only knew what he was saying concerning the Savior! Peter and the apostles chose obedience to God rather than obedience to mankind, proclaiming the death and resurrection of Jesus before the Council. The apostles stated that the purpose of the Christ was "to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." The nation of Israel as a whole had rejected Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah (and continues to do so to this day) and needed to change its mind concerning the reality that Jesus is indeed the Messiah as He Himself claimed to be and as was proven by His death and resurrection from the dead.

A Magician Needs Repentance

Acts 8:18-23 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, "Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity."

This passage gives the story of Simon, a man who practiced magic arts in Samaria and convinced people that he had "the Great Power of God." (v10) While Philip was proclaiming the gospel in Samaria, Simon believed in Jesus Christ and was baptized at his preaching. He began following Philip and was "constantly amazed" (v13) at the power of the Holy Spirit working through him. As the apostles got word of the new believers in Samaria, they sent Peter and John to them. The apostles prayed and laid their hands on the new believers so that they might receive the Holy Spirit. Simon witnessed this and was convinced that the Holy Spirit "was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles' hands." As such, he too desired this authority and ability to bestow the Spirit in like manner and sought to buy this authority with money. Peter answered his request indignantly, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God." The Holy Spirit is a gift from God, not something to be purchased. Simon needed a change his mind/heart because his thinking in this matter was clearly incorrect. Thus Peter exhorted him saying, "Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours." Simon still clung to his pride, "claiming to be someone great," (v9) desiring to use the power of God for sordid gain. By this change of mind, he could be free of his "wickedness," "gall of bitterness" and "bondage of iniquity" and receive forgiveness from the Lord. This new believer received some much needed discipline from an apostle of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, it does not appear that Simon accepted the exhortation, seeing it rather as a curse when he replied, "Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me."

Circumcised Repent in Response to Peter's Testimony Concerning the Uncircumcised

Acts 11:17-18 "If God therefore gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?" And when they heard this, they quieted down, and glorified God, saying, "Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life."

Peter responds in this passage to those who "took issue with him" (v2) concerning his association with uncircumcised Gentiles who "had received the word of God." (v1) In defense, Peter gave an orderly testimony of his vision in which God had declared the Gentiles cleansed and holy and receivers of "the same gift [the Holy Spirit] as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ." To this, those in opposition, changed their mind about the Gentiles opportunity for salvation through Jesus Christ and believed that God had also given the Gentiles the same opportunity to change their mind about Jesus Christ "lead[ing] to life."

Paul References John's "Baptism of Repentance"

Acts 13:23-24 "From the offspring of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, after John had proclaimed before His coming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.

Paul is addressing the "men of Israel" and all God fearing men in a synagogue in Pisidian Antioch on the Sabbath (13:14-16). Paul first relates a brief history of significant events in Israeli history and then relates them all to Jesus and He being the promised Messiah. He tells them of John the Baptist who came as a forerunner, proclaiming the coming of the Christ and calling for a baptism of repentance for the people of Israel as Jesus came to His own (John 1:11). He then lays out the gospel of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus as a fulfillment of prophecy. He then states in Acts 13:38-41, "Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses. Take heed therefore, so that the thing spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon you: Behold, you scoffers, and marvel, and perish; For I am accomplishing a work in your days, A work which you will never believe, though someone should describe it to you.'" Paul here appeals to the Jews to "change their mind" about Jesus and believe that He is the Messiah. By believing they will receive forgiveness of sins and freedom from the requirements of the Law of Moses.

Acts 19:4-5 And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus." And when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Paul met up with some disciples while passing through Ephesus who had not yet received the Holy Spirit and did not even know of the Holy Spirit. However, these 12 men were previously identified with the baptism of repentance by John the Baptist. Thus, these Jewish men had "changed their mind" about Jesus and believed in Him as the promised Messiah as a result of the testimony of John the Baptist. Paul laid hands on them, identified them with Jesus Christ though baptism and they received the Holy Spirit. Paul then remained at Ephesus for three months speaking out boldly about Christ in the synagogue there.

Paul Calls the Greeks of Athens and Rome to Repentance

Acts 17:29-34 "Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, "We shall hear you again concerning this." So Paul went out of their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

Paul is giving testimony to the men of Athens concerning "an altar with this inscription, 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.'" (v23) He implores them to change their mind about their beliefs concerning the "Divine Nature." The men of Athens were polytheistic, crafting gods of gold, silver, stone, artistic images, etc. – all gods created by the "thought of man." Paul testifies of the true God and calls for their repentance and belief in Jesus, the "Man whom He has appointed" for the judgment of mankind. As a result of the testimony some men sneered while others "joined him and believed."

Acts 20:17-21 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. And when they had come to him, he said to them, "You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul called a meeting of the elders of the church of Ephesus, stopping their before he made his way to Jerusalem. Paul told them that this was his final visit to the church of Ephesus. Paul recalls with them of his public ministry in Asia serving the people in humility and with boldness as well as tears and trials due to a constant onslaught of death plots orchestrated by the Jews. His primary testimony to both Jews and Greeks was the need for a change of mind "toward God" regarding His plan of redemption and to place "faith in our Lord Jesus Christ" for eternal life. A person must change their mind about what will save them from sin. Many think that either good works will save them, that they are too bad to be saved or any other variation of these two extremes. These ideas are logical to the natural man, but are hardly good news. When presented with the gospel of Jesus Christ, a person must change their mind about God's plan of redemption for mankind and accept God's plan of love, grace and sacrifice available to all on the basis of faith in His provided Savior, Jesus Christ.

Acts 26:19-20 "Consequently, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.

Paul has been held in custody by Roman authorities since his violent arrest in Jerusalem for at least two years (24:27) and has had many opportunities to share his faith in Christ to Roman dignitaries such as Felix, a Roman governor, Porcius Festus, the successor governor of Felix, and in this passage, King Agrippa. Paul makes his defense before King Agrippa, "an expert in all customs and questions among the Jews." (v3) Paul lays out his testimony concerning Christ including his encounter with Him on the Damascus road: "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But arise, and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; delivering you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me." (v15b-18) Paul was obedient "to the heavenly vision" and declared the gospel to those in Damascus, Jerusalem, Judea and much of the Gentile world. His message consisted of the following: "that [people] should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance." Notice that Paul did not tell these people should turn from their sin, but rather "turn to God." These people needed for forsake their preconceived notions of God's plan of redemption and believe that Jesus is the Savior who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Paul also expected that those who had changed their mind and turned to God through faith in Jesus Christ to engage in good deeds "appropriate to repentance." Good works were predestined for all believers that they might to walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). A believer can only obediently engage in good works through the power of the Holy Spirit, who will conform the believer to the image of Christ as the believer yields to His power.

Paul Explains Repentance to the Romans

Romans 2:1-4 Therefore you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. And do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

Paul is exhorting regarding the hypocritical passing of judgment. It is hypocritical to pass judgment upon another person when the one judging is guilty of the very same thing. Not only is it hypocritical, but such conduct will not escape the judgment of God! Jesus says it this way, "Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:1-5) Paul then drives home an incredible point – when we hypocritically judge for something we too are guilty, we not only fail to follow His example of kindness and patience toward others, but we also take lightly His kindness and patience in the execution of His justice. In fact, God's kindness and patience is what allows humanity the time to change their mind about sin, realize their need of salvation and accept the gift of salvation from Jesus Christ. Paul writes earlier in Romans 1:18 that the "wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men." Yet God's kindness and patience led Him to allow humanity to remain sinful and take that sinfulness to excess. God gave sinful humanity over "in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them (v24)…to degrading passions (v26)…to a depraved mind (v28). God knew that these excesses into sin would be harmful to humanity, but also would often be the very agent to lead them to repentance (changing their mind about their life of sin and death). God has chosen this course at the present time rather than executing His wrathful immediate righteous judgment upon all unrighteousness. Thanks be to God for His patience!

Romans 11:25-29 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and thus all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, "The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob." And this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins." From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God's choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

Paul explains the relationship that the church has with the nation of Israel. God made an unconditional covenant with Abraham to bring salvation through his seed, a Messiah who would "take away their sins." The church is to see Israel as an enemy for the sake of the gospel, but "beloved for the sake of the fathers," being God's chosen people. Paul affirms that God "has not rejected His people" (v1) and that He cannot not change his mind or revoke the gifts and callings previously promised to the nation of Israel.

Paul Stresses the Coupling of Sorrow with Repentance

2 Corinthians 7:8-10 For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it-- for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while--I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, in order that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Paul here is referring to his first letter written to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians). While he felt remorse for writing the letter because it made the Corinthian believers extremely sorrowful, He also did not regret writing it either (and in fact later rejoiced) because it accomplished its intended purpose in making them "sorrowful to the point of repentance." 1 Corinthians clearly exhorted this troubled carnal church in matters such as church discipline, litigation, immorality, marriage, spiritual gifts, resurrection, etc. The truth is sometimes hurtful and painful, but when accompanied with a change of mind and heart, it produces life and will set us free. The sorrow brought to these carnal Corinthian Christians was joined with a sincere repentance and was in accordance with God's will. They came to the realization that their conduct was inconsistent with their new nature in Christ and this led to the salvation of the Corinthian church. Paul rejoices because their sorrow was not "the sorrow of the world" producing death, but was rather a godly sorrow "according to the will of God" producing "a repentance without regret" (i.e. a change of mind that does not regret the change of mind, a genuine sincere repentance rather than a coerced repentance).

2 Corinthians 12:19-21 All this time you have been thinking that we are defending ourselves to you. Actually, it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ; and all for your upbuilding, beloved. For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there may be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances; I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.

Clearly Paul has a sincere heart for these Corinthian believers and desires for them to be holy just as Christ is holy. He reminds the believers of his intent for this letter, not to defend himself or uplift himself, but rather out of pure motives "in the sight of God…speaking in Christ" for their edification and "upbuilding." Paul would be visiting them again soon (a third time) and hypothesizes his fears that they are still living in the flesh and yielding the deadly fruits of the flesh, resulting in his humiliation and mourning before God upon his arrival. Paul wants his children in the faith to be approved, but warns that when he comes he "will not spare anyone" who needs reproof (v13:2). Paul pleads for their repentance of the sins of "impurity, immorality and sensuality" and fears that despite his exhortations many have not changed their mind so as to abandon these sinful practices.

Bond-Servants Carefully Correct Opposition Promoting Repentance

2Timothy 2:24-26 And the Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

Paul is writing his final exhortation to Timothy as he passes the baton to this faithful servant. Here Paul reminds Timothy of things to pass on to "faithful men, who will be able to teach others also." (v2) A bond-servant of Jesus Christ must be free from quarreling, kind, patient, able to teach and able to gently and graciously correct in the face of opposition. The combination of these traits in a bond-servant shown toward one in opposition may aid in changing the mind of one without the truth and bring them to their senses causing an escape from the grasp and the stranglehold of Satan. Clearly the opposition is challenging the leadership within the body and may even be from within the body (i.e. a believer), and is being used as an instrument of unrighteousness for Satan. (Romans 6:12-13) The opposition is spreading discord and disunity and those involved need the "knowledge of the truth" to "come to their senses and escape."

Impossible Repentance – The Carnal, God and Esau

Hebrews 6:1-6 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings, and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we shall do, if God permits. For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame.

Clearly this passage is written to baby believers in Christ as evidenced by their description: those "who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come." The author of Hebrews is exhorting the believers to move on from infancy to maturity. While these believers "ought to be teachers," they "have become dull of hearing" and "need again from someone to teach [them] the elementary principals of the oracles of God…need[ing] milk and not solid food" (v5:11-12). The author describes the elementary principals of Christ, the foundation of the faith, as "repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings, and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment." The gospel clearly excludes works from salvation. Isaiah 64:6 states that "all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment" comparing our works to menstruation rags. Clearly, our "righteous" deeds are inadequate to satisfy sins penalty. Thus, a person must change their mind about trusting their works to save them and put their "faith toward God" for salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 states, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast." The author hopes that God will permit these Hebrew believers to leave the elementary teachings and move on to maturity in Christ. However, on their current course of continued infancy in the faith, it will be impossible to change their mind since they fail to acknowledge the superiority of Christ. Some believers, after having such an introduction into the faith, have fallen away and no longer trust the sufficiency of Christ and His satisfactory payment for sin as their great high priest. The author states that as long as these believers continue to cling to their Judaism and continue to offer sacrifices for their sin, it will be impossible to change and renew their mind about the sufficiency and finality of the propitiation of Christ. Until they repent, they will continue to personally crucify Christ and subject Him to open shame.

Hebrews 7:20-22 And inasmuch as it was not without an oath (for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, "The Lord has sworn And will not change His mind, 'Thou art a priest forever'"); so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

The author of Hebrews discusses the superiority of the priesthood of Christ "according to the order of Melchizedek." (v17) While priests under the order of Aaron did not serve as priests under oath, instead under Levitical birthright, Jesus became an eternal priest under the oath and sworn testimony of Almighty God. The author states that God "will not change His mind" about the forever priesthood of Jesus, "the guarantee of a better covenant."

Hebrews 12:15-17 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

The author warns the Hebrews to be sufficient in God's grace and not to let any bitterness come between them. The author sights Esau as an example of an "immoral or godless person…who sold his own birthright for a single meal." Esau regretted his transaction with Jacob to the point of tears desiring the blessing from his father Isaac, but it was too late – he could not change his mind of God, Isaac or Jacob because Jacob had already received the blessing through deception and that blessing, handed down by Isaac, was irrevocable (Genesis 27:30-41).

God Wants All to Come to Repentance

2 Peter 3:8-9 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Peter speaks of the "last days" (v3) and the fact that the "present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." (v7) Peter stresses that while God's judgment and destruction of the current heavens and earth is imminent, He is "patient toward [us], not wishing for any to perish." God wants all men, even the "mockers," (v3) to be righteous through faith in Christ and have a change of mind about the seriousness of sin's penalty of death and His wrath to be poured out on all unrighteousness. Those who have believed in Jesus Christ will never perish (John 3:16) and only the righteous, as made so by Christ, will reside in the new heavens and earth (v13).

Commanded by Jesus to Revelation Churches

Revelation 2:4-5 'But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place-- unless you repent.

Jesus speaks directly to the church of Ephesus. After commending them for their good deeds, laborious perseverance and endurance, and intolerance of evil as a church, Jesus holds one thing against them, "you have left your first love." Jesus exhorts them to "remember," change their minds, recall their initial deeds as a church that were motivated by a pure love for Christ. The church of Ephesus had fallen from its founding state and forsaken the headship of Christ. They were in need of realignment toward the heading of Christ. Failure to find this pure motivation would result in Jesus Himself removing their authority as a church in Ephesus.

Revelation 2:14-16 'But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit acts of immorality. Thus you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.

Jesus speaks directly to the church of Pergamum. This church dwelt in the midst of the throne of Satan, and yet did not deny their faith or the name of Christ even in the face of the martyrdom of Antipas. Jesus did have a few things against this church, namely tolerating some in within their midst who held to the teachings of Balaam (i.e. intermarriage with pagans, eating foods sacrificed to idols and other forms of immorality) and the Nicolaitans, the deeds of which Jesus hates (v6). In response to these compromises with false teaching in their midst, Jesus sharply rebukes them saying, "Repent therefore." This church must change their minds immediately about their past tolerance of false teaching or else Jesus will declare war with the sword of His mouth against the "some." Jesus is clearly intolerant of tolerance when it comes to false teaching.

Revelation 2:20-24 'But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray, so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent; and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will cast her upon a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence; and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them-- I place no other burden on you.

Jesus speaks directly to the church of Thyatira. Jesus commends the church for their improvements of late regarding their deeds, love, faith, service, perseverance, but again He has something against them. This church has tolerated a false prophetess in their midst similar to Jezebel, wife of King Ahab (1 Kings 16:29-33) who taught of the "deep things of Satan." Tolerance of this false teaching prophetess resulted in many of the Lord's bondservants being lead away to pagan practices of sexual immorality as well as the eating of things sacrificed to idols. Jesus gave this prophetess sufficient time to repent of her blatant immorality, but she has still refused to change her mind and discontinue her immorality. As such, Jesus warns that those who consummate a relationship with this false prophetess are committing adultery and will face great tribulation. Jesus exhorts the church with this burden: to change their mind about tolerating this prophetess, denounce her evil deeds and no longer tolerate her or her teachings. The prophetess and her children will suffer a bed of sickness and death by pestilence, serving as a testament that God, as a righteous judge knowing the hearts and minds of His creation, will render to each man according to his deeds.

Revelation 3:2-4 'Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. Remember therefore what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you. But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white; for they are worthy.

Jesus speaks directly to the church of Sardis. Jesus tells the church that while they look alive, they are really spiritually dead (i.e. asleep). Therefore He exhorts them to "wake up" from their spiritual slumber and be revived and strengthened before they die for good. Most have not completed their work, falling short in the sight of God, while a few "have not soiled their garments." Jesus exhorts them to "remember" the truth they had received and heard, be obedient to that instruction and change their mind about their spiritual worth following the example of the few "worthy" persons in Sardis. Failure to wake up will result in an imminent visit from Christ in thief-like manner.

Revelation 3:15-19 'I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing," and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent.

Jesus speaks directly to the church of Laodicea. Jesus tells the church that they are lukewarm. He cannot stomach them and plans to vomit them out of His mouth. The church thinks they are rich and in need of nothing. Yet Jesus tells them that they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked – what a horrible combination! Jesus advises them to buy purified gold, white garments and eye salve from Him to remedy their nakedness, wretchedness, misery, poverty and blindness. Jesus loves them enough to reprove and discipline them. Finally, Jesus commands them to be zealous toward Him and have an immediate change of mind about their lukewarm status as a church. They need to see themselves as Jesus sees them and come to Him for salvation and to be reheated for godliness.

Trumpet and Bowl Judgments Showered on the Unrepentant

Revelation 9:20-21 And the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.

This passage speaks of the remaining 2/3 of mankind that were not killed by three plagues of fire, smoke and brimstone. An army of two hundred million horsemen commanded by four angels were released to "kill a third of mankind" (v15). Yet despite this unbelievable judgment executed by God against the pagan world, the remainder of mankind did not change their minds regarding their evils deeds of worshiping demons, idols of gold, silver, brass, stone and wood, murders, sorceries, immoralities and thefts, continuing in them rather than calling out to God for salvation.

Revelation 16:8-11 And the fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun; and it was given to it to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues; and they did not repent, so as to give Him glory. And the fifth angel poured out his bowl upon the throne of the beast; and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain, and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds.

This passage speaks of the fourth and fifth bowl judgments pouring "the wrath of God" (v1) on the earth. During these judgments, the men of earth were burned with the fierce scorching heat of the sun and then suffered in darkness with pains and sores as the throne of the beast was darkened. Rather than changing their mind to give the God of Israel glory and abandon their evil deeds, the men "blasphemed the name of God…the God of heaven" and did not "give Him glory."

Concluding Observations

  • Many define repentance as turning from sin; however the Greek word literally means a change of mind.
  • The word repent is never found in the gospel of John, a book clearly written for evangelistic purposes.
  • The primary audience urged to "repent" of their deeds or sins are believers in Jesus Christ.
  • Unbelievers are urged to "repent" of their unbelief in the Messiah who is Jesus Christ.
  • All of humanity needs repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Repentance for salvation must mean a change of mind about what is being trusted for eternal life. Most initially trust good works for salvation, but all must realize this is inadequate, have a change of mind about what is required for salvation and fully trust in Christ alone for eternal life.
  • Repentance and faith often appear to be synonymous terms, especially in the book of Acts (i.e. calling unbelievers to receive salvation though faith in Jesus Christ).

Defining repentance as a "change of mind" provides a satisfactory interpretation of each of the passages in the New Testament.

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