11 True Repentance

What is true biblical Repentance? Repentance by Zane Hodges

See also Robert Wilkin’s six part series in Repentance – Wilkin (pdf)

There seems to be confusion in the Christian community about the biblical meaning of the word “repentance”.  Even Pastors seem to get it wrong.  Many Pastors proclaim loadly that the correct meaning of the word “repent or repentance” is to “turn around”  “ to make a 180 degree turn.”  However, this is not the meaning of the word either in Greek or in English.  Unfortunately, many Christians learn there theology from the words of others without a clear study of Holy Scripture.  Many times Pastors teach what they would like to have.  They would like to have every convert do a 180 degree turn from sin and become a mature, full-grown Christian immediately.  However, this is not the biblical meaning nor is that what the word, “repentance” means.

The word “repent or repentance” both in English and Greek simply means to “change one’s mind”.  That is to “change one’s mind” regarding primarily three things: 1) his sin, 2)other people, and 3) Jesus Christ.  It would not be inappropriate to say that repentance is a change of attitude (which is a change of mind).   The English word “repent” means to “re”= again + pent= think.   That is “repent” means to rethink or to change ones mind.  The Greek word is metanoeō.  The Greek word metanoeō comes from two Greek words 1) meta = “change” and 2) noeo = “mind”

Greek Strong’s Number: 3340

Greek Word:μετανοέω

Transliteration: metanoeō

Phonetic Pronunciation:met-an-o-eh’-o

Root: from <G3326> and <G3539>

Cross Reference: TDNT – 4:975,636

Part of Speech: v

Vine’s Words: Repent, Repentance

Usage Notes:

English Words used in KJV:

repent 34
[Total Count: 34]

from <G3326> (meta) and <G3539> (noieo); to think differently or afterwards, i.e. reconsider (moral feel compunction) :- repent.   —Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary

Greek Strong’s Number: 3563

Greek Word:νοῦς

Transliteration: nous

Phonetic Pronunciation:nooce

Root: probably from the base of <G1097>

Cross Reference: TDNT – 4:951,636

Part of Speech: n m

Vine’s Words: Mind, Understanding 

Usage Notes: 

English Words used in KJV:

mind 21
understanding 3
[Total Count: 24]

probably from the base of <G1097> (ginosko); the intellect, i.e. mind (divine or human; in thought, feeling, or will); by implication meaning :- mind, understanding. Compare <G5590> (psuche).   —Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary

It must  be said that if a person changes his mind regarding Jesus, sin, and others, he is likely to work toward changing not just his thinking but also his behavior.  But the one comes prior to the other.  Also, as you will see, repentance is not just a matter for the lost and unbelievers.  Christians are to be regularly changing their minds and attitudes to square with God’s principles.

In fact, it is very interesting what the biblical meaning of the word “confess” in 1 John 1:9 is.  The Greek word for the English word “confess” means literally “to agree with or to say the same thing.”   That is when we confess we agree with God’s evaluation of our sin.   If we truly confess our sin, we agree with God and his principles and “repent”.  We change our attitude and mind toward our sin to that of God’s evaluation and attitude.  Usually if we truly confess and truly repent, we will work on change of behavior with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Greek Strong’s Number: 3670

Greek Word:ὁμολογέω

Transliteration: homologeō

Phonetic Pronunciation:hom-ol-og-eh’-o

Root: from a compound of the base of <G3674> and <G3056>

Cross Reference: TDNT – 5:199,687

Part of Speech: v

Vine’s Words: Confess, Confession, Profess, Profession, Promise, Vouchsafe

Usage Notes:

English Words used in KJV:

confess 17
profess 3
promise 1
give thanks 1
confession is made 1
acknowledgeth 1
[Total Count: 24]

from a compound of the base of <G3674> (homou) and <G3056> (logos); to assent, i.e. covenant, acknowledge :- con- (pro-) fess, confession is made, give thanks, promise.

—Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary

Basically Martin Luther wrote in the first of his Ninety-five Theses, “Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ … willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”

Read Robert Wilkin’s work on  The Doctrine of Repentance in Church History.  If you are truly ambitious read Dr. Charles Bing’s Doctoral Dissertation on Lordship Salvation.



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