Matthew 3:1,2; “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
The objective is to show you concisely two Greek words with a slightly different definition; which is used in scripture in correlation with the English word repent. Secondly; show you how recognizing the proper Greek or Hebrew word helps to clarify the context, and third; to show the source of repentance itself coming from God as a gift to man.
There are two Greek words that are often used to correlate with the English word repent. One of them is, “metamelomai,” and the second is, “metaneo.” Metamelomai means to have a change of mind as a result of remorse or regret, but not necessarily having a change of heart. This word metamelomai is applied to the repenting of Judas in Matthew 27:3-5; where it tells us that, after Judas saw what the Jews were doing to Christ; he repented and gave back the 30 shekels of silver; proclaiming, “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.” The Jews responded, “what is that to us? see thou to that.” Verse five then tells us after throwing the silver at the Jews; he went and hung himself. From this grammatical study we can deduce, whether or not Judas was truly forgiven. Two indicators are clearly seen; the Greek word metamelomai, which is defined as repentance without a change of heart. Second; nowhere in the scriptures does it reveal anyone who has been given the grace and faith of God so they may believe and confess Christ; resulting in committing suicide. Suicide is not a biblical indication of someone who has been born again of the Spirit of God.
The Greek word used in Matthew 3:2; is, “metanoeo,” according to Strongs Exhaustive Concordance; it means to think differently usually after a misdeed with strong compunction, which means a feeling of deep regret. Eastons Bible Dictionary defines metanoeo as, a change of mind in conjunction with a change of purpose with the intention of turning to God and following His commandments. Easton says this repentance also comes with the acknowledgement of one’s sinful nature; an acknowledgement of God’s mercy, Christ, and a hatred for sin.
Jesus Christ often used the same Greek word as John the Baptist when He ordered people to repent in Matthew 4: 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Mark 1: 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Mark 6: 12 And they went out, and preached that men should repent.
Luke 13: 5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Acts 11: 18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
2Timothy 2:24-26 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. This is a very interesting passage. What does verse 26 say about our natural disposition prior to repentance? That we were captive to the devils will, and only until God gives us repentance to acknowledge the truth of the Gospel; will we be released from His snare.
James 1: 16 Do not err, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Thomas Watson was an English Puritan, preacher, and author; who, brings great clarification to this doctrine of repentance. He pastured a church for 16 years. Afterwards he continued to preach for several years until his health became weak. Thomas Watson wrote a great amount of books until his death on the 28th of July 1686. It is said that Thomas Watson died while he was praying in secret.
In chapter three of Thomas Watson’s, “The Doctrine of Repentance,” he titles it; “the nature of true repentance,” which he also attributes it as gospel repentance. Watson amplifies the nature of repentance with six systematic prerequisite categories; these are:
- Sight of Sin
- Acts 26: 18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
- “A man must first consider and recognize what sin is, and know the plague of his heart, before he can be duly humbled for it,” (Watson).
- Sorrow of Sin
- Psalms 38: 17 For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me. 18 For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.
- “Ambrose calls sorrow, “the embittering of the soul,” The Hebrew word “to be sorrowful; “signifies, “to have the soul, as it were crucified. This must be so in true repentance,” (Watson).
- Confession of Sin
- Nehemiah 9:2 And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers.
- “Sorrow is such vehement passion that it must vent. It vents itself at the eyes by weeping, and at the tongue by confession,” (Watson).
- Shame for Sin
- Ezra 9: 6 And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.
- “Blushing is the color of virtue. When the heart has been made black with sin, grace makes the face red with blushing,” (Watson).
- Hatred for Sin
- Ezekiel 36: 31 Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations.
- A true penitent is a sin-loather (hater). If a man loathes what makes him sick to his stomach, then he will much more loathe what makes his conscience sick. It is more to loathe sin that to leave it,” (Watson).
- Turing from Sin
- Ezekiel 14: 6 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.
- “Dying to sin is the life of repentance. The very day a Christian turns from sin, he must commit himself to a perpetual fast,” (Watson).
- A fasting from what? A daily fasting from sin until we meet the Lord in Heaven.
In conclusion; what we may safely deduce from these passages as revelation from God to us; is that God alone gives repentance to us as a gift. Repentance is not some kind of faculty or quality we are born with. It is not something we can evoke within ourselves from our own volition or will. Repentance is a gift that God gives to those who He calls, as a means for them to change their mind and heart to follow God’s commandments, and God’s will. It is with the gift of repentance that we then are able to see sin in a fragmentized perspective of God’s point of view. Only then are we as sinners able to feel sorrow about our sin, feel shame, and hatred against our sin. Since we as sinful creatures constantly sin; it is logical to assert that repentance is something that we ought to frequently pray for.