What Does The Bible Say About Repentance? One might want to know what it means to repent or what the Bible says about repentance. Whatever the case, you are at the right place for our piece of write-up is aimed at pouring more light on this subject matter. The word translated repentance in the Bible literally means “the very act of changing one’s mind.” The truth about genuine Biblical repentance is that it goes beyond regret, remorse, or feeling bad about one’s sin. It has to do with merely more than just turning away from sin. The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary defines repentance as: “In its fullest sense it is a term for a complete change of orientation involving a judgment upon the past and a deliberate redirection for the future.”
Repentance also known as wholehearted turning to God as pointed to in the Old Testament is more of a recurring theme in the message of the Prophets. Still in the Old Testament, we realize that repentance was demonstrated through rituals such as fasting, wearing sackcloth, sitting in ashes, wailing, and liturgical laments as an expression of a strong sorrow for sin and the readiness to do what pleases God. These rituals were supposed to be accompanied by authentic repentance. This repentance involved a commitment to a renewed relationship with God and characterized by a walk of obedience to His word, right living as per His commands. In most cases, the practice of these rituals merely represented remorse and a desire to escape the consequences of sin.
What Does The Bible Say About Repentance?
Each time that the Ancient Prophets beckoned the people to repent and return, they were calling for a complete turn around inspired from within the heart and motivated by the individual’s will to love God and obey His commands. The Bible tells us that the Prophets called both the Nation of Israel and individual people to surrender their lives to God. This call was one for them to turn away from a life ruled by sin to a relationship with God Almighty, Father of Creation. Joel 2:12–13 says, “Even now—this is the LORD’s declaration—turn to me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Tear your hearts, not just your clothes, and return to the LORD your God. For he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and he relents from sending disaster.”
What does the Scripture say about Repentance?
The Scripture says much about repentance moving from the Old Testament to the New Testament. In as much as we find the theme of repentance in the Old Testament, it continues in the New Testament. It begins with John the Baptist (Matthew 3:2) and then Jesus Christ (Matthew 4:17); both called on everyone to Sincerely Repent because the Kingdom Of God was at hand. The Scripture tells us that many chose this radical reorientation of their lives and demonstrated repentance through baptism (Mark 1:4) as well as profound changes in lifestyle and relationships (Luke 3:8–14). The Greek word used in the New Testament pours more light of understanding on the full meaning of repentance in the Bible.
The first is the verb metamelomai, which denotes a change of mind which produces regret or even remorse for wrong done, but not necessarily a change of heart and action. This word is used in Matthew 27:3 to describe the intense guilt that Judas felt for having betrayed His master, Jesus Christ. The second is the verb metanoeo, which means “to change one’s mind and purpose, as the result of after knowledge.” This verb and its related noun, metanoia, portray true biblical repentance, which is characterized by the following four elements:
- True repentance clearly involves a sense of awareness of one’s own guilt, wickedness, sinfulness, and helplessness (Psalm 51:4–10; 109:21–22).
- True repentance involves a change of attitude and action regarding sin (Psalm 119:128; Job 42:5–6; 2 Corinthians 7:10).
- Genuine repentance apprehends or takes hold of God’s mercy/grace in Jesus Christ (Psalm 51:1; 130:4).
- True repentance results to a radical and persistent pursuit of holy living, walking with God in obedience to His commands (2 Timothy 2:19–22; 1 Peter 1:16).
Facts about Repentance
The focus of Jesus Christ’s mission was to call sinners to repentance. Let’s support this by reading from Luke 5:32 – “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” It is important to understand here that Jesus’ call of absolute surrender goes out to all people as we can read from Luke 13:5 – “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” In His farewell to the disciples, Jesus Christ commanded them to take His message of Repentance and Faith to all nations (Luke 24:47). It is the message of Repentance and Faith that leads to Eternal Life through Jesus Christ. Thus, making it important for us to maintain an obedient heart towards the Key Teachings of Jesus Christ. Behold, in Christ we are saved from the Fire of Hell.
What The Bible Says About Repentance
Proverbs 28:13 – “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”
Matthew 3:8 – “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”
1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Acts 3:19 – “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”
2 Chronicles 7:14 – “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
James 4:8 – “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
Revelation 3:19 – “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.”
Matthew 4:17 – From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Matthew 9:13 – “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
2 Chronicles 30:9b – “For the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.“
Group 1 – What The Bible Says About Repentance
Mark 1:15 – “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Luke 5:32 – “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.“
Luke 15:7 – “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
Ezekiel 18:32 – “For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!”
Joel 2:13 – “Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”
Acts 3:19 – “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,“
Luke 13:3 – “I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Proverbs 1:23 – “Repent at my rebuke!Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.”
Luke 15:10 – “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Acts 2:38 – Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Zechariah 1:3b – “‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty.”
Group 2 – What The Bible Says About Repentance
Romans 2:4 – “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”
Acts 2:38 – “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 17:30 – “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,”
2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
Matthew 4:17 – “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.””
Luke 5:32 – “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
2 Chronicles 7:14 – “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Luke 13:3 – “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Matthew 3:8 – “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”
Acts 11:18 – “When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.””
Group 3 – What The Bible Says About Repentance
2 Timothy 2:25 – “Correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,”
Mark 1:15 – And saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Acts 5:31 – “God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.”
Revelation 2:5 – “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”
Proverbs 28:13 – “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
Isaiah 30:15 – For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling,”
Luke 15:7 – “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
Matthew 3:2 – “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
2 Corinthians 7:10 – “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
Revelation 3:19 – “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.”
Group 4 – What The Bible Says About Repentance
Ezekiel 18:21-23 – “But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?”
Luke 24:47 – “And that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.“
Acts 26:20 – “But declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.”
Acts 8:22 – “Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.”
Matthew 3:11 – “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
Revelation 3:3 – “Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.” Mark 1:4 – “John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
Acts 20:21 – “Testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Group 5 – What The Bible Says About Repentance
Ezekiel 18:30-32 – “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”
2 Corinthians 7:9 – “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.”
Luke 3:3 – “And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
Jonah 3:10 – “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.”
Ezekiel 18:32 – “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”
Luke 17:3 – “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,”
Luke 15:10 – “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Mark 6:12 – “So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent.”
Hebrews 6:1 – “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,”
Group 6 – What Does The Bible Say About Repentance?
Acts 19:4 – And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.”
Psalm 51:1-19 – “To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. ...”
John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Psalm 38:18 – “I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.”
Romans 2:5 – “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”
Matthew 9:13 – “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Luke 3:8 – “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.”
Group 7 – What Does The Bible Say About Repentance?
Isaiah 55:6-7 – “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
Acts 13:24 – “Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.”
2 Corinthians 7:9-10 – “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
Mark 1:14-15 – “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.””
Joel 2:13 – “And rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.”
Hebrews 6:6 – “And then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”
Matthew 21:32 – “For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.”
Group 8 – What Does The Bible Say About Repentance?
Matthew 12:41 – “The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”
Exodus 32:14 – “And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.”
Isaiah 44:22 – “I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.”
Jeremiah 26:3 – “It may be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may relent of the disaster that I intend to do to them because of their evil deeds.”
Jeremiah 31:19 – “For after I had turned away, I relented, and after I was instructed, I struck my thigh; I was ashamed, and I was confounded, because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’“
James 5:19-20 – “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
John 6:44 – “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”
Psalm 51:4 – “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.”
Group 9 – What Does The Bible Say About Repentance?
Luke 24:46-47 – And said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
Acts 11:21 – “And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.”
Revelation 2:16 – “Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
2 Chronicles 30:9 – “For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.”
Luke 3:8-9 – “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Group 10 – What Does The Bible Say About Repentance?
Psalm 23:1-6 – “A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul, He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. ...”
Isaiah 6:10 – “Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
Romans 7:1-25 – “Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. …”
Group 11 – What Does The Bible Say About Repentance?
Psalm 51:13 – “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.”
Ezekiel 18:23 – “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?”
Ezekiel 33:11 – “Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?”
2 Peter 3:8 – “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.“
Luke 13:5 – “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Hebrews 12:17 – “For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.”
Deuteronomy 4:29-31 – “But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice. For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.”
Group 12 – What Does The Bible Say About Repentance?
Psalm 34:14 – “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
Jeremiah 18:8 – “And if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.“
Hosea 14:1 – “Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.”
Isaiah 19:22 – “And the Lord will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return to the Lord, and he will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them.”
Lamentations 5:21 – “Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old—”
Job 42:6 – “Therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Psalm 51:1-4 – “To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.”
Luke 5:31-32 – And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
Group 13 – What Does The Bible Say About Repentance?
2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Revelation 21:4 – “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Jeremiah 24:7 – “I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”
Zechariah 1:3 – “Therefore say to them, Thus declares the Lord of hosts: Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.”
Revelation 2:21 – “I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.”
Psalm 41:4 – As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!”
James 4:8 – “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
Isaiah 55:7 – “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
Matthew 11:20 – “Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.”
Group 14 – What Does The Bible Say About Repentance?
1 Thessalonians 1:9 – “For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,”
Revelation 2:22 – “Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works,”
Ezekiel 14:6 – “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations.”
Jeremiah 31:18-20 – “I have heard Ephraim grieving, ‘You have disciplined me, and I was disciplined, like an untrained calf; bring me back that I may be restored, for you are the Lord my God. For after I had turned away, I relented, and after I was instructed, I struck my thigh; I was ashamed, and I was confounded, because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’ Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he my darling child? For as often as I speak against him, I do remember him still. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, declares the Lord.”
Group 15 – What Does The Bible Say About Repentance?
Isaiah 1:1-31 – “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken: “Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. …”
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