What Does Repent Mean In The Bible?

What Does Repent Mean In The Bible? December 28, 2014

 Have you heard of the word repent in the Bible?  What exactly does it meant to repent? How can a person repent?

What is Repentance? 

The Greek word used in the New Testament for repentance is “metanoia” which means to have a “change of mind” so if someone repents, their mind has been changed in the sense of their desire is not toward sin anymore but their desire is to avoid sin and to seek to live a holy life.  God actually gives a person the ability to repent as “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Rom 2:4c) but if a person continues to reject the gospel  their heart will become hardened because sin is deceitful and so the “unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Rom 1:18) and even though “what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them” (Rom 1:19) like “his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made they are without excuse” (Rom 1:20).  The Psalmist says essentially the same things in Psalm 81:12 that God “gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.” This is why people are to “exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb 3:13).

A Change of Mind

Repentance is not a work that saves but it is something that leads to a person being saved.  You are not really changing your mind or repenting unless you are changing your habits and lifestyle.  Someone who has claimed to be saved and yet still lives a sinful life is only lying to themselves or they have deceived themselves into believing that they’re saved.  Jesus tells us that there must be fruits that are associated with a changed mind or that mind has never really changed at all (John 15). They should be showing evidence of their being a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). Someday, many who believe that they are saved will hear the most horrific words that they will ever hear; “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matt 7:23).  Many people claim to know Jesus but the most important thing is does Jesus know you!?  He will say to these “many” who will come to Him saying “Lord, Lord” (Matt 7:21) that He didn’t know them well, He didn’t know them well enough but that He never, ever knew them at all and to depart from Him and the presence of God forever.

Suppressing the Truth

Sin is like developing a callous on the hand the more sin that there is, the less the feelings of conviction of sin are felt.  After a while, the consciences have been seared like a hot iron does a wound and destroys the nerve endings which can make feelings disappear altogether.  This happens to those who are false teachers and their “teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron” (1 Tim 4:2). This happens when a person repeatedly suppresses the truth as it says in Romans 1:18.  The Greek word used for suppress is “katechō” which means “to hold back, detain” or “press down on” like you would press down on a coil spring.  It takes intentionality to press down or suppress this so that’s what those who resist the Spirit’s conviction of sin do by choice.  Christians certainly still sin but the difference is that they fall into sin.  Before they were saved, the dived into sin with no remorse and no conviction but after the Holy Spirit enters their mind, they begin to change their minds about sin. They no longer have the strong desire to sin but their desire is to live a holy life.  Like Paul, they will still struggle with sin (Rom 7) but they know that in the end, they have been changed.  The things that you used to hate you will begin to love and the things that you used to love you will begin to hate.  That is a sure sign of a changed mind.

The Necessity of Repentance

You cannot be saved without repenting and the necessity of trusting in Christ so repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin.  No man is saved unless they repent or turn away from their sins and then place their faith or trust in Christ.  When John came “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4) he understood that those who truly have repented must “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt 3:8) or it isn’t true conversion at all. The first words out of Jesus’ mouth were “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).  If repentance were not necessary then why would John proclaim its importance and that repentance should bear the fruit or provide the evidence of it and why would Jesus’ first words in His earthy ministry proclaim that people were to “repent and believe in the gospel. The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel?”  We should strive “for holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).


You don’t hear much about repentance anymore.  That’s not good because a person must repent and trust in Christ or they’re cannot be saved.  Do you now know what repentance is?  Do you think you have repented of your sins, confessed them, forsaken (or turned away) from them, and then trusted in Christ?  For those who have repented and believed in the gospel, they are already saved and have been born again (John 3:5) because without these two necessities, no one will even enter the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus says “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36).

Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book  Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon

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