The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament by Dr. Ludwig Koehler, a professor of Old Testament and three others says that the Hebrew word, ‘nacham’ translated as ‘repent’ means to regret or to be sorry. This has been applied in Job 42: 6; “Wherefore I abhor (hate) myself and I repent in dust and ashes”. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary defined the Greek word for repent, ‘metanoeo’ as a change of mind or a change of purpose: a change for the better or an amendment. This means a change that relates to the things done in the past that are expected now to be done differently. Before conversion, an unbeliever needs a change of mind about Jesus Christ and his need for salvation. A Christian going on the wrong road needs to urgently wake up from spiritual slumber and recover the old (right) road. See Jer. 6: 16. Another Greek word for ‘repent’ is ‘metamelomai’. This is in a passive voice. It means, to regret or repent oneself. Matt. 21: 29. The Hebrew word, ‘shub’ also means to turn or return. It singularly implies both turning away from evil and turning to the good. Examples; Josh 24: 23; Jer. 4: 4; 4: 14; Hosea 10: 12.
To a child of God, repentance is perpetual. Our repentance will continue until we go to meet the Lord. It is a lasting mindset, a CONTINUING ABHORRENCE (hatred) of EVIL.
Repentance is a gift
Repentance is a gift worked in the heart by God the Father through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit shows us our sinful hearts before God and makes us willing to renounce all our hatred for God and His authority thus creating the desire in us to walk in the newness of life and holiness.
Repentance: A mark of surrender
Repentance has been described as the picture of the sinner standing defiantly as a rebel against God’s government and authority but suddenly lays down his arms and hoisting the white flag of surrender, having changed his mind about sin, Christ, and salvation. The sinner takes the blame for his sinful condition and sides with God against himself.
Admit your problem
Repentance is getting to a place where we admit that there is a problem that we cannot solve outside Christ. It is the heart attitude; a change of heart leading to a change of conduct showing hatred for sin. Repentance is not just to stop doing wrong things but it must lead to doing things right.
Is repentance necessary for salvation?
Some preach today that repentance is unnecessary, that demanding repentance from people amounts to adding works to the Gospel; that you can believe and be saved without a change of your life. This is untrue. It is rightly said by a person that repentance stands as the first pressure we feel when we are drawn to the bosom of the Father. This happens whenever a mortal man meets the holiness of God.
Isaiah was already a prophet of God, prophesying to Israel, but when he was drawn to the Father’s bosom in Isaiah 6. He screamed saying, “Woe is me for I am undone”. Another way to say this is, “Woe is me for I am finished”, Isaiah. 6: 5. Ezekiel was a prophet in captivity who ministered in Babylon within the 70 years of Israelite Babylonian captivity. When he was drawn to the father’s bosom he collapsed on his face. Ezek. 1: 28. When Job was drawn to His bosom, he screamed, “Behold, I am vile” (morally based, depraved, disgusting) Job 40: 3-4.
He also said that there was no royal road to repentance and no privileged path to forgiveness. Every man must follow the same course whether he be rich or poor, educated or untrained, prince or pauper, king or commoner. How? Let your sins trouble you with the trouble which shall bring you down to repentance”. Luke 16: 15-16.
Repentance is not works.
Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin. Repentance is a change of mind leading to the ‘turning away’ from sins while faith is ‘turning to’, trusting in, and relying on Christ. Neither faith nor repentance is work. They both rest on the grace of Christ alone.
Repentance and faith are foundational doctrines.
The writer of Hebrew itemized six doctrines that he referred to as the principles of the doctrine of Christ. The doctrine (singular) of Christ is CHRISTOLOGY. The principal doctrines are the skeleton or the frame structure on which the entire Christology rests. The foundation of this skeletal doctrine according to the Hebrew writer, is Repentance from dead works and Faith towards God. See Heb. 6: 1-2. Note that just as the first two, REPENTANCE and FAITH are a related pair, the last two, Resurrection and Judgment are also another related pair. This is the consummation of all things called ‘eschatology’ or the doctrine of the end times. Paul wants us to move on to perfection. Heb.6: 1-2. This is impossible without addressing the foundational issues of the first two.
Repentance and faith must come together.
Repentance can be defined as a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsaking it and walking in obedience to Christ. Like faith, repentance is the intellectual understanding that sin is wrong. It is the emotional approval of biblical teachings on sin (a sorrow and hatred for it) and a personal decision to forsake it and live in obedience to Christ. Sorrow over the sin committed is not enough. King Saul was sorrowful for his sin but he never repented. 2 Cor. 7: 9-10
Repentance and the prodigal son
This is the story of a boy who got his inheritance and took off to a FAR country. This is not necessarily a geographical distance but the varying imagery of many Christian children. The Father typifies God the Father. The son is a believer from a Christian home who strays into sin. As soon as some Christian children get to the Tertiary Institutions, they believe that freedom from all home disciplines has come.
A friend of this writer, a professor from one of the Nigerian Universities mentioned an incident in their school some time ago. A University freshman’s parents dropped him off on the campus. The student quietly monitored that his parents had actually left. He then ran up one way, ran down the other way, raised up his two hands, and screamed, “I am free”. Of course, there is nothing like absolute freedom.
The Bible says that” He that is called in the Lord, being a slave is the Lord’s freeman and he that is called being free is Christ’s slave”. 1 Cor. 7: 22. On the campus, the cult members are good evangelists. They will approach this youth and promise him protection, provision, and fellowship; they will carry him for lunch occasionally and give him money.
These are the people in the far country that Jesus is talking about. Theirs is a strange culture: language, customs, and social behaviors involving violence, hard drugs, wild music, sexual perversion, raw occultism, and contact with demonic powers. These are the strange gods unknown to the boy’s parents.
Agreeing with them amounts to selling your soul to the evil one; the end is always a disaster. If you are already trapped as a student, you must patiently seek a good minister of God from a good church and discuss with him; he will counsel you and the Lord can still rescue you.
Our friends and earthly parents may flatter or leave us to perish, but Jesus Christ will discipline us for our own good. Let us be quick in repenting and following the good way that we have been taught. May the Lord bless you and keep you, may He make His face shine upon you … May the Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you peace now and forever in Jesus’ name. Remain blessed.
Sunday School Commentary By Elder Samuel Omole. October 22, 2023.