By John C. Carpenter
In the book of Acts, we read, And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized withthe baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:1-5). In verse 4, baptism is translated from the Greek word baptizo, which means to make fully wet, to be covered wholly. Also in verse 4, repentance is translated from the Greek word metanoeo, which means to think differently, to reconsider. Within the context of our subject verses, the baptism of repentance refers to being fully committed to repenting of our attitudes about Jesus, and thinking differently about Jesus Christ, that is, in the words of Paul, specifically to believe on Him who should come, on Christ Jesus, rather than continue to refuse and reject Jesus Christ. Many often think that new testament repentance applies only to repenting from our sins [which the scriptures certainly teach], but when we study repentance in its context, we see that in many verses, repentance applies to the rejection of Jesus Christ and a refusal to believe on Him as the Christ, and not to a repentance from sin.
Within the new testamant, there are at least two types of repentance: repentance from sin, and repentance from rejection and denial of Jesus Christ as Savior, Christ, and Lord. When we talk about repenting from sin, we often find that the specific words repentance or repent are not directly mentioned in a particular verse, but that the changing of mind and forsaking of sin is implied, directed, or taught in context. Scriptural examples include, If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways [note the word repent is not mentioned in this verse]; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14), and He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy (Proverbs 28:13). The specific words repent and repentance are neither one specifically mentioned in these verses, but the idea of repentance from sin is. Paul teaches us Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God (Romans 6:11-13). The apostle James adds, Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded (James 4:8).
Jesus also clearly taught His own disciples about repentance from sin: Then said he [Jesus] unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences [cause of displeasure or sin] will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend [entice to sin] one of these little ones [that believe in me]. Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother [probable reference to a fellow believer] trespass [miss the mark, err, commit a fault] against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent [thinks differently, reconsider his or her sinful behavior], forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him (Luke 17:1-4). Jesus also instructed the church in Laodicea to repent of its lukewarm state (Rev 3:14-19).
In giving some Jewish pharisees and scribes the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus referred to repentance from sin, although, again, the specific word repentance is not used:A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son (Luke 15:11-21). In this parable Jesus mentions a younger son who decided to leave the presence of his father, asked and received his inheritance from his father, wasted the inheritance his father had given him on riotous living, realized the error of his ways, and repented by saying to himself I will go to my father and confess my sin against my father and against heaven, and express my unworthiness. In this parable, we see possibly the most classic definition of repentance from sin, that is, a change of mind and heart, without the specific mention of the words repent or repentance.
The Lord gave Jezebel the opportunity to repent of her wickedness, and she would not. Referring to the church in Thyatira, Christ said,I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds (Revelation 2:19-22).
Regarding the repenting from sin, scriptures reflect that sometimes the specific words repent or repentance are mentioned, and sometimes they are not. However, this repentance from sin is not the repentance most often referred to in the new testament scriptures. There is a much more important, even essential, type of repentance often referred to in the new testament scriptures, the only repentance from which there is remission of sin resulting in eternal life the repentance from the rejection of Jesus Christ, a repentance which many casual readers of the scriptures often do not recognize.
There are numerous examples within the new testament that refer to repentance from rejection of Jesus Christ. We will cover a few of these examples. For example, the apostle Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words (Acts 2:14), Ye men of Israel [Jews], hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved. Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope. Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel [the Jews] know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked [convicted] in their heart [because of Peter's words], and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent [Greek metanoeo, reconsider, think differently about Jesus Christ, accept Christ in your hearts and minds], and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for [which results in] the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise [of the Holy Ghost] is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his [Peter's] word [about Christ and His gospel] were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them [the disciples and those who believed in Christ] about three thousand souls (Acts 2:22-41). If we read these verses in context, we clearly see what the repentance is that the apostle Peter is referring to. Once Peter, who was speaking to these men of Israel, completed his discourse on Jesus, these Jews (Acts 2:22-36), who were pricked [Greek katanusso, to be pierced thoroughly, to be nudged, become violently agitated in their heart, become emotionally motivated], asked Peter and the rest of the apostles, guys, what shall we do, what do we now need to do to know this Jesus and have this Holy Spirit you are referring to? Peter answered them, Repent [Greek metanoeo, think differently about your rejection of Jesus Christ, accept Him for who He is], and be baptized [Greek baptizo, to make fully wet, to be covered wholly, to wash] every one of you in the name [Greek onoma, authority, character, surname] of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38). Peter instructed these Jews to think differently about their rejection of Jesus Christ, and that their acceptance of and faith in Jesus Christ would result in the complete remission [Greek aphesis, freedom, deliverance, forgiveness] of their sins. As Paul clarifies in these verses, the baptism that John the baptist was preaching was the baptism from unbelief in Christ, not repentance from sins. It is this acceptance of Christ, development of faith in Him, and baptism, or complete covering, in the authority and character of Jeus Christ which results in the remission [freedom, pardon, deliverance, forgiveness] of our sins.
One instance in which repentance from rejection of Christ is commanded, but the words repent or repentance are not found, is in the book of John. Jesus told some Jews who wanted to kill Him, But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And ye have not his [gospel] word abiding in you: for whom he [God] hath sent, him [Christ] ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. I receive not honour from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive (John 5:36-43).
Despite the fact that the Jews had seen the miracles, signs, and wonders performed by Jesus as evidence that He was the Christ sent by His heavenly Father, they continued to seek life in the scriptures rather than in Jesus Christ. The Lord commanded these Jews to repent of their continued rejection of Him and the gospel message, but they would not and did not have a change of mind and heart.
Scriptures provide us with an example of repentance from unbelief in Christ in which the specific word repent is used: The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him. Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel (Mark 1:1-15). In this context, John is preparing the way of the Lord, that is, he is speaking of and referring to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Lord, the one who is mightier than John, the one from Nazareth of Galilee, the one who shall baptize with the Holy Ghost, and the beloved Son of God. After John prepared, that is, announced, the imminent advent of Jesus Christ, Jesus Himself later appeared in person and came into Galilee, preaching the gospel or announcement of the good news of the kingdom of God, saying the time is fulfilled [accomplished, arrived] because I am now here. Furthermore, Jesus instructed those around Him to repent of their rejection of and unbelief in Him and believe the gospel of Christ and His kingdom. In context, we again see that this repentance applies to the rejection of Jesus Christ, not repentance from sin.
In the book of the acts of the apostles, the apostle Paul also clearly refers to a repentance of rejection of Jesus Christ: And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:1-5). Although these certain men who were referred to as disciples, it is clear that they had not yet come to true faith in the Lord. Paul therefore instructed them to receive the baptism of repentance from their unbelief in Christ, and from here on to believe on Christ Jesus. Within the context of these verses, repentance, again, refers not to repentance from sin, but to a change from unbelief to belief in Christ Jesus.
We see an interesting story again in the book of Acts. Scriptures instruct us, And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering. And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel [Jews], why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted [reverse, turn about, become a believer in Christ], that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:11-19). The apostles Peter and John were talking to some men of Israel, some Jews, who had delivered Jesus to Pilate, who also denied Jesus in the presence of Pilate, who denied the Holy One and the Just One, who had killed the Prince of Life, and who had even witnessed the resurrection of Christ. Yet, Peter and John questioned how they could continue to reject Jesus Christ because they, of all people as Jews, had been shown by the mouths of the old testament prophets that Christ should suffer and die. In the old testament scriptures, they had been taught about Christ centuries in advance. These Jews knew the old testament, and its prophecies of Jesus Christ, yet they did, and have continued, to reject Christ and His presence on earth. Peter and John gave these unbelieving Jews the only reasonable advice they could, that is, to repent of their continued rejection of Christ, and be converted to faith in Christ, and then, and only then, could and would their sins be blotted out. Again, in the new testament, it is not repentance and conversion from acts of sin which brings the blotting out of our sins, but repentance from unbelief and conversion to faith in Christ. Again, in this context, repentance refers to moving from unbelief to acceptance of and belief in Christ.
The apostle Paul went from Miletus to Ephesus, and at Ephesus called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:17-21). Within these few verses, Paul described to both Jews and Greeks [Gentiles] repentance as a rethinking and reconsideration about their relationshio to God the Father, and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ.
When Jesus called Matthew to be one of His disciples, the scriptures tell us,And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not [old covenant requirements of] sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance [Greek metanoia, reformation, reversal to faith in Christ] (Matthew 9:9-13). When some Jewish pharisees questioned the Lord's disciples why Jesus was eating with [and having anything to do with] publicans and sinners [those at fault, offensive, trespasser], the Lord answered and taught that these publicans and sinners, indeed, all sinners, are the ones who are sick and in need of a physician. The repentance that Christ is speaking of in verse 13 is a clear reference, not to the need for Jewish sacrifices or even a repentance from all sin [which involve works], but to the sinner's need [by faith] for the one, true physician who, of course, is Jesus Christ.
Writing to Timothy, the apostle Paul instructed Timothy to be strong when he encountered sufferings for the sake of the gospel of Christ: Thou [Timothy] therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3). It becomes clear that Paul is referring to suffering due to the gospel when he adds, Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: Wherein I suffer trouble, as [one considered to be] an evil doer, even unto bonds [as a prisoner]; but the [gospel] word of God is not bound [prevented from achieving God's purpose]. Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory (2 Timothy 2:8-10). Paul summarizes his encouragement to Timothy writing, Study [Greek spoudazo, means to use speed, to make an effort, be diligent] to shew thyself approved [tested and found to be acceptable] unto God, a workman [Greek ergates, meaning a toiler, labourer, worker]that needeth not to be ashamed [disgraced and embarrased], rightly dividing [Greek orthotomeo, meaning to expound and understand correctly]the word [Greek logos, meaning Christ and the gospel] of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). In this context, in verse 15, the word study does not refer to opening the bible to study it in the sense that students strive to learn the information in a textbook. Study to show yourself approved of God, a workman that needeth no be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth might be better translated as a steady, earnest, and energetic application and effort to explain in careful detail and correctly understand the gospel and its requirements, an effort for which the laborer for Christ will not be ashamed nor be considered unacceptable to God the Father. In this particular context, Paul is exhorting Timothy to make the necessary effort to understand that preaching the gospel will result in various forms of suffering, as it had with Paul, and that this suffering for Christ should not be considered shameful by the worker, nor is it unacceptable to God.
After warning Timothy about the expected suffering for those who preach the gospel, Paul further instructs Timothy, as an apostle of Christ and the gospel, that there are other requirements of the gospel, other things that he should and should not do. Paul first instructs Timothy to shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness (2 Timothy 2:16). Paul then adds, But in a great house [the church] there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance [Greek metanoia, meaning to think differently] to the acknowledging of the truth [of all of the requirements of the gospel of Christ] (2 Timothy 2:20-25). From the context of these verses, as well as from other scriptures, we know that the truth refers to Christ and the gospel: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:12-13). Within these verses, repentance again refers to the repentance from the rejection of Christ and the gospel, and not repentance from sin.
In one last example, Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, in his first letter to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:1). Peter wrote: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his [Christ's] coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word [Greek logos, referring to Jesus Christ] of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance [Greekmetanoia, meaning reversal of a decision] (2 Peter 3:5-9). What is the repentance Peter is speaking of here? It is a repentance of a rejection of Christ, and His role in creation, and His promise of His second coming (2 Peter 3:10-13). Peter later clarifies that this repentance is in reference to Christ when he adds, Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless (2 Peter 3:14).
Paul wrote these inspiring words to Timothy, which could also be spoken to anyone who does not know Jesus Christ nor believe the word of truth, the gospel: Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel [Greekeuaggelion, meaning announcement of a good message or news of Christ, His Kingdom and eternal life] (2 Timothy 1:8-10). Jesus bluntly clarified the repentance necessary for life and immortality when He said simply, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15).  AMEN.
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Subject-Verse Index
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier"
(2 Timothy 2:3-4).