2 Peter 3:9 Commentary

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow (3SPAI) about His promise, as some count (3PPMI) slowness, but is patient (3SPAI) toward you, not wishing (PPPMSN) for any to perish (AMN) but for all to come (AAN) to repentance. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: ou bradunei (3SPAI) kurios tes epaggelias, os tines braduteta hegountai, (3PPMI) alla makrothumei (3SPAI) eis humas me boulomenos (PPPMSN) tiapolesthai (AMN) alla pantas eis metanoian choesai (AAN)

Amplified: The Lord does not delay and is not tardy or slow about what He promises, according to some people's conception of slowness, but He is long-suffering (extraordinarily patient) toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

Barclay: It is not that God is dilatory in fulfilling his promise, as some people reckon dilatoriness; but it is that for your sakes he patiently withholds his hands, because he does not wish any to perish, but wishes all to take the way to repentance. (Westminster Press)

KJV: 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.

NET: The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (NET Bible)

NLT: The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: It is not that he is dilatory about keeping his own promise as some men seem to think; the fact is that he is very patient towards you. He has no wish that any man should be destroyed. He wishes that all men should come to repent. (New Testament in Modern English)

Wuest: The Lord is not tardy with regard to the appointed time of His promise, as certain consider tardiness, but is long-suffering toward us, not having it as His considered will that certain should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (Wuest: Expanded Translation: Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: the Lord is not slow in regard to the promise, as certain count slowness, but is long-suffering to us, not counseling any to be lost but all to pass on to reformation,

THE LORD IS NOT SLOW ABOUT HIS PROMISE AS SOME COUNT SLOWNESS: ou bradunei (3SPAInd) kurios tes epaggalias hos tines braduteta hegountai (3PPMI):

  • Isa 46:13; Hab 2:3; Lk 18:7,8; Heb 10:37

Peter moves from the timelessness of God to the tenderness of God.

Peter does not dispute the mocker's claim that the Second Coming had been delayed. He uses the delay as an opportunity to explain that another reason the Lord’s return seems to be so long in coming is that God wants as many people to be saved as possible.

Slow (1019) (braduno) means to tarry, loiter, delay, be tardy or delayed beyond the expected or proper time. Note what God is "slow" in regard to in [Ps 86:15 Is 30:18].

The KJV says God is not "slack" a state characterized by slowness, sluggishness, or lack of energy - none of those apply to God.

God’s so-called “tardiness” as viewed by some people (as some count slowness) is only a delay with respect to their time schedules, not His!

Not is the Greek word "ou" which is the absolute form of negation, so what Peter is saying is that "slowness" or "slackness" is absolutely not part of God's actions. His delay is due neither to indifference or inability to perform. God waits but is never slow, never late for it is always within His power to fulfill His promise as He sees fit. As discussed in the preceding verse, God's "timepiece" is eternity so He sees things differently than man in regard to what is "slow". God’s delay in fulfilling His promise is not, like men’s delays, owing to inability or fickleness in keeping His word, but is related to His attribute of longsuffering toward sinners.

Illustration - God is longsuffering. Men are not. We prefer to rush to judgment. Irving Stone's classic history of the American West, "Men to Match My Mountains," contains a passage on early justice. During the Gold Rush, San Francisco had a rash of crime. It got to the point where the police were more corrupt than the criminals. So in 1851 a group of concerned citizens formed a "Vigilance Committee." The word "vigilante" is derived from it. It was not just a lynch mob. They elected Sam Brannan as president, drew up a constitution and set up parliamentary rules. Only responsible citizens were allowed to join and they only acted in emergencies when the law was ineffective. The first official act of the group was to arrest John Jenkins, who had stolen a safe and dropped it into a boat. Tried in Brannan's office before a committee jury, Jenkins was declared guilty. An 1851 law said that grand larceny was punishable by death. But most of the committee seemed reluctant to hang someone for only stealing a safe. A this point William Howard threw his cap disgustedly on the table and cried: "Gentlemen, as I understand it, we came here to hang somebody!" So that's exactly what they did. If God acted like this, where would you be right now?

Promise (1860)(epaggelia/epangelia from epaggello = to announce that one is about to do or furnish something from epi = upon, intensifies meaning + aggelos = messenger or aggello = to tell or declare) is a declaration that one will do or refrain from doing something specified. It is also a legally binding declaration that gives the person to whom it is made a right to expect or to claim the performance or forbearance of a specified act.

Epaggelia - 52x in 50v -

Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4; 2:33, 39; 7:17; 13:23, 32; 23:21; 26:6; Rom 4:13, 14, 16, 20; 9:4, 8, 9; 15:8; 2 Cor 1:20; 7:1; Gal 3:14, 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, 29; 4:23, 28; Eph 1:13; 2:12; 3:6; 6:2; 1Ti 4:8; 2Ti 1:1; Heb 4:1; 6:12, 15, 17; 7:6; 8:6; 9:15; 10:36; 11:9, 13, 17, 33, 39; 2Pet 3:4, 9; 1Jn 2:25

Epaggelia is used primarily of the promises of God. God has promised to end the history of ungodly men with judgment but the other truth about God is that He has always been longsuffering toward woeful, wicked sinners desiring their repentance. If there seems to be delay, it is not because God is unfaithful to His promise.

Some count slowness indicates that delaying was being ascribed to the Lord by "some" (tines = "certain ones"), who in context could refer to the mockers or could include believers who had been "infected" by the skeptical propaganda of the scoffers. Clearly Peter desires that any of his readers who might be confused by the Lord's delay, should not succumb to the spirit of doubting.

Count (2233) (hegeomai [word study]) means to consider and give careful thought, not making a quick decision. It was a mathematical term conveying the idea of thinking about something and coming to a conclusion. In other words, one leads their mind through a reasoning process and arrives at a conclusion. Some had carefully considered the facts but "their math was bad" and they had come to an incorrect conclusion regarding the Lord's delay.

Peter undoubtedly recalls His Lord's parting words that…

It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority (Acts 1:7).

Jesus Himself had also said

But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only (Matt. 24:36)

BUT IS PATIENT TOWARD YOU: alla makrothumei (3SPAI) eis humas:

  • 2Pe 3:15; Ex 34:6; Ps 86:15; Is 30:18; Ro 9:22; 1Ti 1:16; 1Pe 3:20)

C H Spurgeon

While I have prayed, "Come quickly," I have often felt in­clined to contradict myself and cry, "Yet tarry for a while, good Lord. Let mercy's day be length­ened. Let the heathen yet receive the Savior." We may desire the coming of the Lord, but we ought also to be in sympathy with the tarrying of the Most High, to which his loving heart inclines him.

But (235) (alla) introduces contrast (see discussion on importance of terms of contrast in the observation phase of Inductive Bible Study) and when used after a negative statement ("not slow") marks a direct, even emphatic antithesis and can be translated "but, but rather, but on the contrary".

In short, in this verse but introduces the contrasting reality that God's deliberate delaying action has a wonderfully benevolent purpose.

Toward you reminds the readers that they (and we) themselves have experienced this fact of His loving patience.

Patient (3114) (makrothumeo from makrós = long + thumós = wrath, anger) (See also word study of noun makrothumia) (See God's attribute longsuffering) means to have "a long fuse", to be longsuffering, slow to anger, slow to punish, to exhibit self-restraint in the face of provocation, not to retaliate, to bear the offenses and injuries of others, to be mild and slow in avenging.

Makrothumeo - 10x in 9v - Matt 18:26, 29; Luke 18:7; 1 Cor 13:4; 1 Thess 5:14; Heb 6:15; Jas 5:7f; 2 Pet 3:9. NAS = delay long(1), have patience(2), patient(6), patiently waited(1).

Being slow to anger does not mean that God does not care but that He has His "emotions under control."

The present tense of makrothumeo characterizes God as continually exercising restraint in the face of provocation so that He does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish, but that He continues to show mercy toward the guilty.

Paul describes the related noun makrothumia as one of the aspects of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in a believer's life (Gal 5:22-note).

Chrysostom an early church father said makrothumeo

“is a word which is used of the man who is wronged and who has it easily in his power to avenge himself but will never do it.” (cf. Nu 14:18)

God waits for men to be saved and exhibits an immense capacity for patience before He breaks forth in judgment (Joel 2:13; Lk 15:20).

God endures endless blasphemies against His name, along with rebellion, murders, and the ongoing breaking of His law, waiting patiently while He is calling and redeeming His own. It is not impotence or slackness that delays final judgment but it is His attribute of patience. This attribute of God is reflected in His ability to be inconvenienced or taken advantage of by a person over and over again and yet not manifest anger! Amazing love and grace from an amazing God.

God's "longsuffering" was behind His delaying the Genesis Flood for 120 years,

"when the patience [makrothumia] of God kept waiting in the days of Noah during the construction of the ark in which a few, that is eight persons, were brought safely through the water" (1Peter 3:20-note)

God was not blind to the violence and wickedness of man (Gen 6:5, 6) which justifiably would have warranted His immediate judgment and yet He held back His wrath, instead sending the evildoers Noah a “preacher of righteousness.” (2Peter 2:5-note).

In the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, God patiently waited while Abraham interceded for the cities and He would have spared them had He found ten righteous people in Sodom (Gen 18:23-33).

This same longsuffering that manifested itself in the days before the world's cataclysmic destruction by water and the local destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire and brimstone, is still manifest today as God holds off the coming destruction of the universe by an all consuming conflagration.

It is worth noting that God revealed this same long-suffering in the years before the Flood (1Pe 3:20-note cf Ge 15:16). He saw the violence and wickedness of man and could have judged the world immediately; yet He held back.

The day of the Lord is a familiar Old Testament image for the ultimate day of God’s judgment, His final day in court when He settles the injustices of the world. From the above Scriptural references (and others) one can piece together the following portrait of the Day of the Lord.

R E Showers writes that…

The Day of the Lord refers to God’s special interventions into the course of world events to judge His enemies, accomplish His purpose for history, and thereby demonstrate who He is—the sovereign God of the universe. (R E. Showers, Maranatha, Our Lord Come Bellmawr, NJ: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 1995, 38)

Even a cursory study indicates that this day is not a reference to a single 24 day but to an extended period of time as will be explained below.

When does this "day" begin?

You will read descriptions in some commentaries that state the Day of the Lord begins with the rapture of the church (so-called "pre-trib rapture") (1Th 4:13, 14, 15,1 6, 17, 18-see notes 1Th 4:13; 14; 15; 16; 17; 18), the event which most evangelicals feel immediately precedes the last seven years of Seventy Weeks of Daniel, and is popularly known as the "Tribulation", although nowhere in Scripture is this seventieth week of 7 years actually specifically designated "the tribulation" (let me know if you find a passage that contradicts this conclusion - remember that "the Great Tribulation" only refers to the last three and one-half years of this seven year period).

According to Paul the "Day of the LORD" begins after the man of lawlessness (antichrist) (read 2Th 2:2,2:3, 2:4) takes his seat and desecrates the rebuilt Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Jesus referred to this dramatic event as the "Abomination of Desolation" (cf Daniel 9:27 see Daniel's Seventieth Week) which marks the beginning of the last 3.5 years of Daniel's Seventieth Week (Daniel 9:27-note), a period Jesus called the Great Tribulation (Mt 24:15,21) which is synonymous with the "Time of Jacob's Distress" (Jer 30:7). For more in depth study of this last 7 year period see the links below…

So if the Day of the Lord does not begin with the rapture of the church, when does it begin? A more likely beginning for the Day of the Lord is at the midpoint of the 7 Year period of Daniel (compare Da 9:27-note and Mt 24:15,21).

The events that take place during this 7 year period ("Tribulation") are described in great detail in Revelation (especially chapters Rev 6-21 click for over 25 lectures on Revelation).

Peter describes the Day of the Lord as a fiery conflagration of the heavens and earth, an event the would follow the 1000 year reign of Christ ("the Millennium") and which would correlate with the unique time/space description by John in Rev 20:11-note that the "earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them". Then comes the Great White Throne judgment, followed by "a new heaven heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away" (Rev 21:1-note).

Tony Garland comments on Revelation 20:11 noting that…

Jesus had predicted that God’s word would outlast the first heavens and earth: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Mt 24:35). The first heavens and first earth were preserved by God’s word for a time, but now the time has come for their judgment by fire and the perdition of ungodly men (2Pe 3:7). This marks the end of the period of The Day of the Lord.

(In his commentary on Revelation 21:1 Garland adds) The conjunction, now (kai), connects what follows with the previous chapter. The creation of the new heaven and new earth is in response to the destruction of the previous heaven and earth which fled away and gave up the dead (Re 20:11)… The restorative work prior to the Millennial Kingdom was a regeneration (Mt 19:28), not an entirely new created order as here. This is demonstrated by the fact that after the Millennial Kingdom (Re 20:4, 5, 6), the earth and sea still contained all the unsaved dead of history. Although the millennial earth was renovated in order to recover from the judgments of the Tribulation and to restore Eden-like conditions, sin and death remained and the earth, in one sense, remained unclean. In the conflagration of the first heaven and earth, sin and death are completely purged from the created order (Re 20:14).

It was revealed to the OT prophets that the first heavens and earth would perish (Ps. 102:25, 26; Isa. 51:6) and be replaced by a new heavens and earth (Isa. 65:17, 18, 19, 20) There is nothing in this passage of Isaiah which states that the new heavens and earth must precede the Millennium. It merely states that as the new creation will endure before God, so shall the faithful of Israel continue. (A Testimony of Jesus Christ - Revelation 21:1)

NOT WISHING FOR ANY TO PERISH: me boulomenos (PPPMSN) tiapolesthai (AMN):

Isaiah 30:18 Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.

Wishing (1014) (boulomai [word study]) expresses more strongly than thelo the deliberate exercise of one's will. (present tense)

Scofield has an interesting thought on the will of God (but be a Berean as this categorization is somewhat strained in my opinion)…

Three aspects of the will of God may be observed in Scripture:

(1) the sovereign will of God (Isa 46:9, 10, 11; Da 4:17,35; Heb 2:4; Rev 17:17);

(2) the moral will of God, i.e. His moral law (Mk 3:35; Eph 6:6; He 13:21); and

(3) the desires of God coming from His heart of love (Ezek 33:11; Mt 23:37; 2Pet 3:9).

The sovereign will of God is certain of complete fulfillment, but the moral law is disobeyed by men, and the desires of God are fulfilled only to the extent that they are included in His sovereign will. God does not desire that any should perish, but it is clear that many will not be saved (Rev 21:8).

Boulomai expresses also the inward predisposition and bent from which active volition proceeds; hence it is never used of evil people.

Boulomai denotes the unconscious willing or an inner decision or thinking while thelo indicates conscious willing and denotes a more active resolution urging on to action.

The scoffers did not understand God’s eternality nor did they understand His undeserved mercy.

God's "wish" for mankind is the motive for His longsuffering.

Note that not wishing does not refer to the ultimate determining will of God but rather to His standing wish or desire for mankind. In other words (but it still might seem confusing) boulomai has reference to God's disposition or His nature rather than to a specific act or plan. It is not God’s considered will that any should perish. On one side we have the clear teaching of the sovereignty of God and on the other hand, the indisputable truth concerning the free will of man. God will not violate man’s free will. While it is His considered will (standing wish or desire) that no one should be lost, yet in making man in His image He necessarily had to make him a free moral agent, with a will which is able to say “yes” and “no” to Him. While God is always willing to save man, man is not always willing to be saved. Don't be confused by this section -- God's "wishing" here does not express a decree (determining will), as if God has willed everyone to be saved. Universal salvation is not taught in the Bible. Instead those words describe God’s standing wish or desire which is that He longs that all would be saved (1Ti 2:4) but knows that many reject Him, again leaving open the possibility of human freedom of choice.

Perish (622) (apollumi [word study] from apo = away from + olethros = state of utter ruin) means destruction but not annihilation and has to do with that which is ruined and is no longer usable for its intended purpose.

Apollumi is not the loss of being, but of well-being and in the present context indicates eternal separation from God Himself. To perish spiritually is to be forever lost.

Apollumi - 90x in 84v - NAS = bring(1), destroy(17), destroyed(9), dying(1), end(1), killed(1), lose(10), loses(7), lost(14), much(1), passed away(1), perish(14), perishable(1), perished(4), perishes(1), perishing(6), put to death(1), ruined(3).

Matt 2:13; 5:29f; 8:25; 9:17; 10:6, 28, 39, 42; 12:14; 15:24; 16:25; 18:14; 21:41; 22:7; 26:52; 27:20; Mark 1:24; 2:22; 3:6; 4:38; 8:35; 9:22, 41; 11:18; 12:9; Luke 4:34; 5:37; 6:9; 8:24; 9:24f; 11:51; 13:3, 5, 33; 15:4, 6, 8f, 17, 24, 32; 17:27, 29, 33; 19:10, 47; 20:16; 21:18; John 3:16; 6:12, 27, 39; 10:10, 28; 11:50; 12:25; 17:12; 18:9; Acts 5:37; 27:34; Rom 2:12; 14:15; 1 Cor 1:18f; 8:11; 10:9f; 15:18; 2 Cor 2:15; 4:3, 9; 2 Thess 2:10; Heb 1:11; Jas 1:11; 4:12; 1 Pet 1:7; 2 Pet 3:6, 9; 2 John 1:8; Jude 1:5, 11; Rev 18:14.

Note the little word "any" (Greek word tis = someone, certain one & in the plural here = "certain ones") which is the so-called "individualizing plural" which speaks of God's desire for men individually (to not perish), and is not a generalization about certain groups or classes of people. Clearly God is personally intimately concerned for every individual person, whether they accept or refuse His gracious offer of salvation by grace and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ's propitiatory (Propitiation that which satisfied the wrath of Holy God) death in their place. Peter knew as we today also know all too painfully, that many individuals will perish into a Christ-less eternity, but Peter's point is that this egregious end is not God's personal desire for them. The cause of their perishing lies not in God but in each individual's stubborn and rebellious rejection of redemption offered by faith in Christ.

God's heart on this issue is clearly revealed by the prophet Ezekiel who quoted Jehovah as follows:

'As I live!' declares the Lord GOD, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, BUT RATHER that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways!" (Ezekiel 33:11 see also Ezekiel 18:23)

In (Ezekiel 33:32) God says

I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies," declares the Lord GOD. "Therefore, REPENT and live.

Finally Paul unveils the Father's heart as the One

Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (Note: Association between coming to a true knowledge of truth and salvation). (1T 2:4)

And so contrary to popular opinion of many who are misinformed concerning the character of God, His heart in both the Old and New Testaments is that not one man would perish but that all would come to repentance. And so He holds back His had of righteous judgment.

John Calvin comments on Not willing that any should perish writing that

So wonderful is His love towards mankind, that He would have them all to be saved, and is of His own self prepared to bestow salvation on the lost

He Was Not Willing
“He was not willing that any should perish”;
Jesus enthroned in the glory above,
Saw our poor fallen world, pitied our sorrows,
Poured out His life for us, wonderful love!

Perishing, perishing! Thronging our pathway,
Hearts break with burdens too heavy to bear:
Jesus would save, but there’s no one to tell them,
No one to lift them from sin and despair.

“He was not willing that any should perish”;
Clothed in our flesh with its sorrow and pain,
Came He to seek the lost, comfort the mourner,
Heal the heart broken by sorrow and shame.

Perishing, perishing! Harvest is passing,
Reapers are few and the night draweth near:
Jesus is calling thee, haste to the reaping,
Thou shalt have souls, precious souls for thy hire.

Plenty for pleasure, but little for Jesus;
Time for the world with its troubles and toys,
No time for Jesus’ work, feeding the hungry,
Lifting lost souls to eternity’s joys.

Perishing, perishing! Hark, how they call us;
Bring us your Savior, oh, tell us of Him!
We are so weary, so heavily laden,
And with long weeping our eyes have grown dim.

“He was not willing that any should perish”;
Am I His follower, and can I live
Longer at ease with a soul going downward,
Lost for the lack of the help I might give!

Perishing, perishing! Thou wast not willing;
Master, forgive, and inspire us anew;
Banish our worldliness, help us to ever
Live with eternity’s values in view.

BUT FOR ALL TO COME TO REPENTANCE: alla pantas eis metanoian choesai (AAN) eis metanoian choesai (AAN):

One of the best discussions of repentance: Repentance by J C Ryle

"The Bible, which ranges over a period of 4,000 years, records but one instance of a deathbed conversion—one that none may despair, and but one that none may presume… There be few at all saved… and fewest saved this way." (William Guthrie)

"All the while thou delayest, God is more provoked, the wicked one more encouraged, thy heart more hardened, thy debts more increased, thy soul more endangered, and all the difficulties of conversion daily more and more multiplied upon thee, having a day more to repent of, and a day less to repent in." (George Swinnock, Puritan)

All (3956) (pas, plural = pantas) means all with no exceptions.

How good to have an answer for those who ridicule the idea of a coming Judgment Day. “God’s just waiting for you to be saved!” Delay is another evidence of God’s love.

As Hiebert notes "The fact that this is God's desire for all (pantas) individuals, underscores mankind's fundamental need for such a moral reformation.

I am including the following comment from William Barclay so that you might be wary (see another critique) when using his popular commentaries (which I do quote elsewhere on this website) which, although often providing unique insights into the Greco-Roman culture, history and word meanings, are subtly laced with the arsenic of half-truth which calls for caveat emptor ("let the buyer beware" so to speak). Now with this forewarning read Barclay's comment on 2Peter 3:9…

Ever and again there shines in Scripture the glint of the larger hope. We are not forbidden to believe that somehow and some time the God Who loves the world will bring the whole world to Himself.

Do you understand what Barclay is implying? Read it one more time like a good Berean (Acts 17:11-note). Clearly Barclay affirms the possibility of universalism (all men will be saved) and yet look back at evidence to the contrary even in the context of this book (2Peter 2:7-note). Furthermore, the plain thrust of Peter's teaching in this section is that after the second coming, ushering in the judgment of conflagration, there will be no further opportunity for repentance. You must also note what is clearly NOT being taught in passages like this --

There is absolutely no indication
of a "secret decree" by God
which predestinates certain ones
unto eternal damnation.

That specious (having deceptive attraction, having a false look of truth) argument is not substantiated in the current text nor anywhere else in Holy Writ! Keep in mind that the best commentary is to compare Scripture with Scripture (far better than these "Verse by Verse" notes!)

To come (5562) (choreo) means to “make room for something” and so to give place to or receive it.

In context choreo means to make room for (receive) repentance in one's heart by putting away stubborn pride and welcoming the Word of God which "births" forth a brand new life (1Pe 1:23, 24, 25-note).

Repentance is the gift of God as shown by the following passages

"Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life" = Acts 11:18, 16:14;

"God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth" = (2Ti 2:25-note)

"the kindness of God leads you to repentance"= (Ro 2:4-note)

Yes repentance is a gift but In the divine mystery of the transaction that results in the new birth, the unbeliever has personal responsibility to make room for God's gift. Salvation is of God but He will not force us to be born again as if we were "puppets". Peter describes salvation as…

according to His great mercy He caused us to be born again to a living hope, thru the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1Pe 1:3-note).

God may cause us but He will not coerce us (against our will) to be saved. All who are not saved have made a free will choice to not "make room for" His precious gift of repentance.

Repentance (3341) (metanoia from meta = after + noéo = to understand) literally means "afterthought" or "to think after" and implies a change of mind.

Related Resource: Great articles on repentance primarily from Puritan writers

From the NT uses, it is clear that metanoia means however much more than merely a change of one's mind but also includes a complete change of heart, attitude, interest, and direction. Metanoia is a conversion in every sense of the word. Jesus' teaching would support this conclusion for our Lord declared…

I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents (metanoeo), than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance (metanoia). (Luke 15:7)

Metanoia is used 22 times in the NT - see verses below (Matt 3:8, 11; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3, 8; 5:32; 15:7; 24:47; Acts 5:31; 11:18; 13:24; 19:4; 20:21; 26:20; Ro 2:4; 2 Cor 7:9, 10; 2Ti 2:25; Heb 6:1, 6; 12:17; 2Pe 3:9

Bishop Ryle offers this descriptive definition of repentance…

Repentance is a thorough change of man's natural heart, upon the subject of sin. We are all born in sin. We naturally love sin. We take to sin, as soon as we can act and think—just as the bird takes to flying, and the fish takes to swimming. There never was a child that required schooling or education in order to learn deceitfulness, selfishness, passion, self-will, gluttony, pride, and foolishness. These things are not picked up from bad companions, or gradually learned by a long course of tedious instruction. They spring up of themselves, even when boys and girls are brought up alone. The seeds of them are evidently the natural product of the heart. The aptitude of all children to these evil things is an unanswerable proof of the corruption and fall of man. Now when this heart of ours is changed by the Holy Spirit, when this natural love of sin is cast out, then takes place that change which the Word of God calls "repentance." The man in whom the change is wrought is said to "repent." (Repentance)

One of the best illustrations of genuine repentance is found in Paul's description of the saints at Thessalonica…

For they themselves (other believers in Macedonia and Achaia) report about us (Paul, Silvanus and Timothy) what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1Thessalonians 1:9; 1:10-See notes 1Th 1:9; 1:10)

C H Spurgeon in a sermon entitled The Plumbline (Amos 7:7, 8) wrote that…

Side by side with that faith, God puts true repentance. When a man attempts to convert his fellow-man, he gives him a sham repentance, or perhaps he tells him that there is no need of any repentance at all. Certain preachers have been telling us, lately, that it is a very easy matter to obtain salvation, and that there is no need of repentance; or if repentance is needed, it is merely a change of mind. That is not the doctrine that our fathers used to preach, nor the doctrine that we have believed. That faith, which is not accompanied by repentance, will have to be repented of; so, whenever God builds, he builds repentance fair and square with faith. These two things go together; the man just as much regrets and grieves over the past as he sees that past obliterated by the precious blood of Jesus. He just as much hates all his sin as he believes that his sin has been all put away. (Amos 7:7-8 The Plumbline)

Here are the 22 NT uses of metanoia

Matthew 3:8 "Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance… 11 "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Mark 1:4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Luke 3:3 And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins… 8 "Therefore bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father,' for I say to you that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

Luke 5:32 "I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."

Spurgeon wrote "Learn this lesson—not to trust Christ because you repent, but trust Christ to make you repent; not to come to Christ because you have a broken heart, but to come to him that he may give you a broken heart; not to come to him because you are fit to come, but to come to him because you are unfit to come. Your fitness is your unfitness. Your qualification is your lack of qualification.

Luke 15:7 "I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Luke 24:47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

Acts 5:31 "He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

Acts 11:18 And when they heard this, they quieted down, and glorified God, saying, "Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life."

Acts 13:24 after John had proclaimed before His coming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.

Acts 19:4 And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus."

Acts 20:21 solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

C H Spurgeon wrote that "Repentance and faith must go together to complete each other. I compare them to a door and its post. Repentance is the door which shuts out sin, but faith is the post on which its hinges are fixed. A door without a doorpost to hang on is not a door at all, while a doorpost without the door hanging on it is of no value whatever. What God hath joined together let no man put asunder, and these two he has made inseparable—repentance and faith)

J C Ryle wrote… There can be no true repentance without faith. You may cast away your old habits, as the serpent casts off his skin—but if you are not resting all upon the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and looking to be saved by simple faith in Him, you may be wise in your own eyes—but you are just ignorant of the root and fountain, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, in all true gospel religion. You may tell us you have repented—but if you have not at the same time laid hold on Christ, you have hitherto received the grace of God in vain.

Acts 26:20 but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.

Romans 2:4 (note) Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

2Corinthians 7:9 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, in order that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Comment: The danger with worldly sorrow is that it gives one a false sense of brokenness and repentance and consequently it leads to death! Remorse is sorrow over being caught and the pain of consequences that follow. Repentance is not being concerned for ourselves but having a contrite heart.

C H Spurgeon spares no words commenting that… "You are afraid of damnation, but you are not afraid of sinning. You are afraid of being cast into the pit, but not afraid to harden your hearts against God's commands. It is not the soul's state that troubles you, but hell. If hell were extinguished, your repentance would be extinguished. Be not deceived. Examine yourselves whether you are in the faith. Ask yourself if you have that which is "repentance unto life," for you may humble yourselves for a time, and yet never repent before God.)

2 Timothy 2:25 (note) with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,

Hebrews 6:1 (note) Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,

Hebrews 6:6 (note) and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame.

Hebrews 12:17 (note) For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

It should be stated at the outset that there are some in evangelical circles who teach that all repentance involves is a change of mind. The problem with this definition is that has nothing to do with one’s attitude toward sin and does not necessarily result in any change in lifestyle. Keeping this definition in mind now read the first NT use of metanoia by John the Baptist who is addressing the religious leaders who sought to flee from the wrath to come…

Therefore bring forth (aorist imperative = do it and do it now! Even conveys a sense of urgency) fruit (karpos - fruit is what people produce that other people see that indicates their true spiritual condition. Fruit does not save but shows that one is saved!) in keeping (axios = the idea is that of having equal weight or worth, and therefore of being appropriate) with repentance. (Matthew 3:8)

Then notice how our Lord Jesus began His ministry in Galilee…

From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent (present imperative = make this your habitual practice, it is to be your lifestyle!), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17)

And after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent (present imperative = make this your habitual practice, it is to be your lifestyle!) and believe (present imperative = make this your habitual practice, it is to be your lifestyle!) in the gospel." (Mark 1:14, 15)

Were John the Baptist and our Lord calling for simply a change in thinking or is he calling for a change in thinking that was evidenced by a change in behavior? What do the passages teach? John was issuing a call to repentance that was evidenced by an inner change and an outward act that gave proof that the change was genuine (possession and not just profession). As a corollary, note that the New Testament knows nothing of a gospel that lacks a call to repentance. John and Jesus were both calling Israel to have a radical change in thinking about genuine righteousness and how it was worked out in one's everyday life. The Scribes and Pharisees taught the Jews a distorted, perverted, external type of righteousness, a self-righteousness based on an adherence to manmade rules and regulations (613 of them to be exact!), the keeping of which would emphatically not guarantee one's entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus presented the Sermon on the Mount to correct this deadly distortion of the Law and the Prophets (the entire Old Testament) by the religious leaders. (See Overview of Matthew 1-7) and commentary on Matthew 5-7 beginning in Matthew 5:1-2). In summary, the Jews needed to have a change (repentance) in regard to righteousness for as Jesus emphatically declared…

unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. (see notes on Matthew 5:20)

J. R. Miller wrote that genuine repentance

amounts to nothing whatever if it produces only a few tears, a spasm of regret, a little fright. We must leave the sins we repent of and walk in the new, clean ways of holiness.

Vance Havner wrote that…

It is a change of mind about sin and self and the Savior.—Vance Havner

Scofield adds that…

"Repent" is the translation of a Greek verb metanoeo, meaning to have another mind, to change the mind, and is used in the NT to indicate a change of mind in respect to sin, God, and self. This change of mind may, especially in the case of Christians who have fallen into sin, be preceded by sorrow (2Cor 7:8, 9, 10, 11); but sorrow for sin, though it may cause repentance, is not repentance. The son in Mt 21:28, 29 illustrates true repentance. Repentance is not an act separate from faith, but saving faith includes and implies that change of mind which is called repentance

In the OT repentance is one of the English words used to translate the Hebrew nacham, to be eased or comforted. It is used of both God and man. Notwithstanding the literal meaning of nacham, it is evident, from a study of all the passages, that the sacred writers use it in the sense of metanoia in the NT, meaning a change of mind. See Mt 3:2; Acts 17:30. As in the NT, such change of mind is often accompanied by contrition and self-judgment.

J Edwin Orr asks…

Does “repent and believe the gospel” imply that the sinner must do two things to be saved, and not one only? The exhortation is really only one requirement. The instruction, “Leave London and go to Los Angeles,” sounds like a two-fold request, but it really is only one; it is impossible to go to Los Angeles without leaving London

Marvin Vincent in his note on the verb form (metanoeo) writes that this is…

A word compounded of the preposition meta, after, with; and the verb noeo, to perceive, and to think, as the result of perceiving or observing. In this compound the preposition combines the two meanings of time and change, which may be denoted by after and different; so that the whole compound means to think differently after. Metanoia (repentance) is therefore, primarily, an after-thought, different from the former thought; then, a change of mind which issues in regret and in change of conduct. These latter ideas, however, have been imported into the word by scriptural usage, and do not lie in it etymologically nor by primary usage. Repentance, then, has been rightly defined as “Such a virtuous alteration of the mind and purpose as begets a like virtuous change in the life and practice.” Sorrow is not, as is popularly conceived, the primary nor the prominent notion of the word. Paul distinguishes between sorrow and repentance (metanoia), and puts the one as the outcome of the other. “Godly sorrow worketh repentance” (2Cor 7:10). (Vincent, M. R. Word Studies in the New Testament. Vol. 1, Page 3-23) (Bolding added)

Kenneth Wuest adds that…

Repent is the translation of metanoeo which in classical Greek meant “to change one’s mind or purpose, to change one’s opinion.” The noun metanoia meant “a change of mind on reflection.” These two words used in classical Greek signified a change of mind regarding anything, but when brought over into the New Testament, their usage is limited to a change of mind in the religious sphere. They refer there to a change of moral thought and reflection which follows moral delinquency. This includes not only the act of changing one’s attitude towards and opinion of sin but also that of forsaking it. Sorrow and contrition with respect to sin, are included in the Bible idea of repentance, but these follow and are consequent upon the sinner’s change of mind with respect to it." (Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament) (Bolding added)

Thayer writes that metanoia refers

especially (to) the change of mind of those who have begun to abhor their errors and misdeeds, and have determined to enter upon a better course of life, so that it embraces both a recognition of sin and sorrow for it and hearty amendment, the tokens and effects of which are good deeds.

Friberg, et al, define metanoia as…

(1) religiously and morally, a change of mind leading to change of behavior repentance, conversion, turning about ; (2) as a change of opinion in respect to one’s acts regret, remorse (a popular Greek usage not found in the NT)" (Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Baker's Greek New Testament library. Baker Academic) (Bolding added)

Louw and Nida define metanoia as a…

"to change one’s way of life as the result of a complete change of thought and attitude with regard to sin and righteousness… Though in English a focal component of repent is the sorrow or contrition that a person experiences because of sin, the emphasis in metanoeo (verb form) and metanoia seems to be more specifically the total change, both in thought and behavior, with respect to how one should both think and act. Whether the focus is upon attitude or behavior varies somewhat in different contexts." (Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. United Bible societies ) (Bolding added)

Repentance as used by is a change of mind that results in a change of will. It means “a turn about" or deliberate change of mind resulting in a change of direction in thought and behavior. There is a new attitude to God, to men, to life, to self.

One might thus say that repentance is a change of attitude toward sin which leads to a desire to change our behavior accordingly. If the sinner honestly changes his mind about sin, he will turn from it. If he sincerely changes his mind about Jesus Christ, he will turn to Him, trust Him, and be saved. In Paul's parting words to the Ephesian elders he declared…

“how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance (metanoia) toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21)

True repentance is a godly sorrow for sin, an internal repugnance to the ugliness of sin followed by the actual forsaking of it as Paul explained to the Corinthians…

"I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance (i.e., their sorrow led them to a change of mind resulting in a change of life); for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, in order that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God (godly sorrow is a grief which comes into a one's life after he or she has committed a sin and which leads to repentance) produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death." (2Corinthians 7:9, 10) In his respected commentary on this verse

Charles Hodge in his classic commentary on 2 Corinthians writes that "Repentance is not merely a change of purpose, but includes a change of heart which leads to a turning from sin with grief and hatred thereof unto God.”

Jameison, et al, commenting on the previous passage write that…

Repentance” (metanoia) implies a coming to a right mind; “regret” implies merely uneasiness of feeling at the past or present, and is applied even to the remorse of Judas (Mt 27:3); so that, though always accompanying repentance, it is not always accompanied by repentance. “Repentance” removes the impediments in the way of “salvation” (to which “death,” namely, of the soul, is opposed)." (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., Fausset, A. R., Brown, D., & Brown, D. A commentary, critical and explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments)

Do not confuse remorse with repentance. For example "when Judas, who had betrayed (Jesus), saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders" (Matthew 27:3) What is the distinction? Repentance involves sorrow for the act of sin, remorse sorrow for its consequences. A repentant person is sorry he sinned, whereas a remorseful person is sorry he got caught.

Paul like John the Baptist warned King Agrippa:

"Consequently, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds" Acts 26:19, 20)

Genuine repentance as described by Paul before King Agrippa is demonstrated by the saints at Thessalonica (although the specific word metanoia is not used here), Paul recording that…

"they themselves (those in Macedonia and Achaia) report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve (douleuo = be in bondage to another with the servant's will now subjected to the Master's will) a living and true God (changed behavior, from serving pagan idols to serving the true God) and to wait (eagerly and expectantly - present tense = their habitual practice) for His Son from heaven (changed outlook from temporal to eternal), Whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, Who delivers us from the wrath to come." (1Thessalonians 1:9, 1:10-see notes 1Th 1:9, 10)

The saints at Thessalonica gave sure evidence of their changed mind in that they now submitted to a new Master. They manifested a clearly visible (to all in Macedonia and Achaia) break with pagan religion and a redirection of their whole life to God.

John MacArthur adds that…

"True repentance not only should but will have correspondingly genuine works, demonstrated in both attitudes and actions. Right relationship to God brings right relationship to our fellow human beings, at least as far as our part is concerned (cf. Romans 12:18-note). Those who claim to know Christ, who claim to be born again, will demonstrate a new way of living that corresponds to the new birth… The idea that repentance is evidenced by renunciation of sin and by righteous living did not originate with John the Baptist, but had long been an integral part of orthodox Judaism. Faithful rabbis had taught that one of the most important passages in Scripture was, “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless; defend the orphan, plead for the widow” (Isa. 1:16, 17). Theologian Erich Sauer, in The Triumph of the Crucified (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951, p. 67), speaks of repentance as “a threefold action. In the understanding it means knowledge of sin; in the feelings it means pain and grief; and in the will it means a change of mind.” True repentance first of all involves understanding and insight, intellectual awareness of the need for moral and spiritual cleansing and change. Second, it involves our emotions. We come to feel the need that our mind knows. Third, it involves appropriate actions that result from what our mind knows and our heart feels." (MacArthur, J: Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament Commentary Chicago: Moody Press)

In another of his works, MacArthur summarizes repentance as follows…

"Like faith, repentance has intellectual, emotional, and volitional ramifications. Berkhof describes the intellectual element of repentance as “a change of view, a recognition of sin as involving personal guilt, defilement, and helplessness.” The emotional element is “a change of feeling, manifesting itself in sorrow for sin committed against a holy God.” The volitional element is “a change of purpose, an inward turning away from sin, and a disposition to seek pardon and cleansing.” (from Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1939), 486) Each of those three elements is deficient apart from the others." (MacArthur, J. The Gospel According to the Apostles. Nashville, TN: Word Pub)

Easton's Bible Dictionary defines "evangelical repentance" as…

"(1) a true sense of one’s own guilt and sinfulness; (2) an apprehension of God’s mercy in Christ; (3) an actual hatred of sin (Psalm 119:128; 2Corinthians 7:9, 10) and turning from it to God; and (4) a persistent endeavor after a holy life in a walking with God in the way of his commandments." (Easton)

J Vernon McGee in his comments on Ruth's turning away from a life in Moab to follow her mother in law Naomi asks…

"What is real repentance? The Greek word used in 2 Corinthians 7:10 is metanoia. It means “to change your mind.” It means to be going in one direction, then to change your mind, turn around, and go in the other direction. A lot of people come to a place where they’re under conviction, and they intend to change—or at least they say they do—and they shed a few tears, but they keep right on going the same way. And that’s exactly what Orpah did. She shed the tears right along with Ruth, but she didn’t turn around and go to Bethlehem and make a stand for God. No, she went back to idolatry. And a lot of folk are like that today—they just shed tears. Tears are not repentance, friend, although they may be a byproduct of repentance." (McGee, J. V. Thru the Bible commentary. Vol. 2, Page 94. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)

William Barclay writes that metanoia

literally means a change of mind. We are very apt to confuse two things—sorrow for the consequences of sin and sorrow for sin. Many a man is desperately sorry because of the mess that sin has got him into, but he very well knows that, if he could be reasonably sure that he could escape the consequences, he would do the same thing again. It is not the sin that he hates; it is its consequences. Real repentance means that a man has come, not only to be sorry for the consequences of his sin, but to hate sin itself. Long ago that wise old writer, Montaigne, wrote in his autobiography, “Children should be taught to hate vice for its own texture, so that they will not only avoid it in action, but abominate it in their hearts—that the very thought of it may disgust them whatever form it takes.” Repentance means that the man who was in love with sin comes to hate sin because of its exceeding sinfulness." (The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press)

Richard Trench wrote…

Repentance: That mighty change in mind, heart, and life, wrought by the Spirit of God.

Nineteenth-century theologian Heinrich Heppe defined repentance as

“a gracious power, bestowed only on the elect, by which they lay aside the life of sin and busy themselves with righteousness” (Reformed Dogmatics Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978).

Puritan Thomas Watson (from his excellent treatise on repentance)…

"Unless you repent, you will also perish." Luke 13:5 Repentance is a grace of God's Spirit, whereby a sinner is inwardly humbled and outwardly reformed. Repentance is a spiritual medicine made up of six special ingredients: 1. Sight of sin 2. Sorrow for sin 3. Confession of sin 4. Shame for sin 5. Hatred for sin 6. Turning from sin If any ingredient is left out, it loses its virtue. "I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds." Acts 26:20…

"Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices!" Ezekiel 36:31 A true penitent is a sin-loather. If a man loathes that which makes his stomach sick, much more will he loathe that which makes his soul sick! It is greater to loathe sin—than to leave it. The nauseating and loathing of sin, argues a detestation of it.

Christ is never loved—until sin is loathed.
Heaven is never longed for—until sin is loathed.

When the soul sees its filthiness, he cries out, "Lord, when shall I be freed from this body of death! When shall I put off these filthy garments of sin—and be arrayed in the robe of Your perfect righteousness! Let all my self-love be turned into self-loathing!" We are never more precious in God's eyes—than when we are lepers in our own eyes! The more bitterness we taste in sin—the more sweetness we shall taste in Christ!…

There are several counterfeits of repentance. A man has gone on long in sin. At last God arrests him, shows him what desperate hazard he has run —and he is filled with anguish! But after a while, the tempest of conscience is blown over, and he is quiet. Then he concludes that he is a true penitent because he has felt some bitterness in sin. Do not be deceived! This is not true repentance! Both Ahab and Judas had great trouble of mind. It is one thing to be a terrified sinner—and another to be a repenting sinner. Sense of guilt is enough to breed terror in the conscience. Only infusion of divine grace, breeds true repentance. If pain and trouble were sufficient to repentance—then the damned in hell would be most penitent, for they are most in anguish. "Men gnawed their tongues in agony, and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done!" Re16:10,11…

There is no better sign of true repentance—than a holy antipathy against sin. Sound repentance begins in love to God—and ends in the hatred of sin.

How may true hatred of sin be known? When a man's HEART is set against sin. Not only does the tongue protest against sin—but the heart abhors it. However lovely sin is painted—we find it odious—just as we abhor the picture of one whom we mortally hate, even though it may be well drawn.

Suppose a dish be finely cooked and the sauce good—yet if a man has an antipathy against the meat, he will not eat it. So let the devil cook and dress sin with pleasure and profit—yet a true penitent has a secret abhorrence of it, is disgusted by it, and will not meddle with it.

True hatred of sin is UNIVERSAL. There is a dislike of sin not only in the judgment—but in the will and affections. Many a one is convinced that sin is a vile thing, and in his judgment has an aversion to it—yet he tastes sweetness in it—and has a secret delight in it. Here is a disliking of sin in the judgment—and an embracing of it in the affections! Whereas in true repentance, the hatred of sin is in all the faculties, not only in the mind—but chiefly in the will: "I do the very thing I hate!" (Ro 7:15). Paul was not free from sin—yet his will was against it.

He who truly hates one sin—hates all sins. He who hates a serpent—hates all serpents. "I hate every false way!" (Ps 119:104). Hypocrites will hate some sins which mar their credit. But a true convert hates all sins—gainful sins, complexion sins, the very stirrings of corruption.

A holy heart detests sin for its intrinsic pollution. Sin leaves a stain upon the soul. A regenerate

person abhors sin not only for the curse—but for the contagion. He hates this serpent not only for its sting but for its poison. He hates sin not only for hell—but as hell.

Those who have no antipathy against sin, are strangers to repentance. Sin is in them—as poison in a serpent, which, being natural to it, affords delight. How far are they from repentance who, instead of hating sin—love sin! To the godly—sin is as a thorn in the eye; to the wicked—sin is as a crown on the head! "They actually rejoice in doing evil!" (Jeremiah 11:15).

Loving of sin is worse than committing it. What is it, which makes a swine love to tumble in the mire? Its love of filth. O how many there are—who love the forbidden fruit! They love their sin—and hate holiness.

There should be a deadly antipathy between the heart and sin. What is there in sin, which may

make a penitent hate it?

Sin is the accursed thing, the most deformed monster! Look upon the origin of sin, from whence it comes. It fetches its pedigree from hell: "He who commits sin is of the devil!" (1 John 3:8). Sin is the devil's special work. How hateful is it to be doing that which is the special work of the devil—indeed, that which makes men into devils!

(Concerning repentance and tears) In Luke 7:38 Mary brought two things to Christ—perfume and tears. Her tears were better than her perfume. Tears are powerful orators for mercy. They are silent—yet they have a voice. "The Lord has heard the voice of my weeping." (Ps 6:8) They say that tears have four qualities: tears are hot, moist, salty, and bitter. It is true of repenting tears. They are … hot—to warm a frozen conscience; moist—to soften a hard heart; salty—to season a soul putrefying in sin; bitter—to wean us from the love of the world. And I will add a fifth. They are sweet, in that they make the heart inwardly rejoice "Your sorrow shall be turned into joy!" (Jn 16:20)…

The two great graces essential to a saint in this life, are faith and repentance. These are the two wings by which he flies to heaven. Moist tears of repentance dry up sin—and quench the wrath of God.

Repentance is the nourisher of piety—
and the procurer of mercy

Worldly tears fall to the earth; but godly tears of repentance are kept in a bottle. "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." (Ps 56:8) Either sin must drown in the tears of repentance—or the soul must burn in hell.

An unbeliever would rather lose Christ and heaven—than his lusts!

(From the recommended resource Puritan Thomas Watson on Repentance)

See also List of multiple articles on repentance from Gracegems

A W Tozer said that "The best repentance is turning to God and away from our sin—and not doing it any longer!" He also said "I think there is little doubt that the teaching of salvation without repentance has lowered the moral standards of the Church and produced a multitude of deceived religious professors who erroneously believe themselves to be saved when in fact they are still in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity."

Hughes sounds a note of warning writing that…

If you have never sorrowed over sin in your life (not just its consequences, but sin itself), then consider long and carefully whether you really are a Christian. Genuine believers, those who are truly born again, have mourned, and continue to mourn, over sin.

For Christians, mourning over sin is essential to spiritual health. The verb used here is the most intensive of the nine verbs employed in the New Testament for mourning, and it is continuous. Godly believers, therefore, perpetually mourn, and thus perpetually repent of their sins.

It is significant that the first of Martin Luther's famous 95 Theses states that the entire life is to be one of continuous repentance and contrition. It was this attitude in the Apostle Paul that caused him to affirm, well along into his Christian life, that he was the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). (Hughes, R. K. Sermon on the Mount)

Vance Havner wrote that Our Lord's last word to the church was not the great commission but "repent," and it is the last thing the church is willing to do. We hear much about revival, but revival is an Old Testament word. The New Testament word is "repent." I almost despair of our churches ever learning the difference between revival and evangelism. The average "revival" is mainly a drive for more members, and we already have too many of the kind that most of them are!…("Repent") was (Jesus') command to five out of seven of the churches in Asia and that proportion still holds (see notes on those 5 churches - Re 2:5, 16, 21, 22, 3:3, 19 - see notes Re 2:5; 2:16; 2:21 & 2:22; 3:3; 3:19). Five out of seven Christians and churches today need first of all to repent."

Havner goes on to say that "Another weakness that needs to be corrected is the present‑day accent on conversion without repentance. Do not misunderstand me here. I know that eternal life is the gift of God and that there is nothing meritorious in our tears… What I do mean is that we have made it easy for hundreds superficially to "accept Christ" without ever having faced sin and with no sense of need (Ed note: We can't put our sins behind us until we are ready to face them.). We are healing slightly the hurt of this generation, trying to treat patients who do not even know they are sick." See Is it biblical to ask Jesus into your heart?

See C H Spurgeon's sermons relating to the topic of revival

In his book called "Truth" (page 31) Vance Havner wrote that…

The message of John the Baptist was "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:2). The Kingdom was coming then in the Person of the Saviour; it was a spiritual Kingdom, the reign of God in the hearts of men. The Kingdom is coming soon; it will be a visible Kingdom when the King returns and once again our message should be "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Christ's message to the church for this hour is "Repent." But who dares to call the average Sunday‑morning congregation to repentance? Said Joseph Parker: "The man whose message is Repent sets himself against his age and will be battered mercilessly by the age whose moral tone he challenges. There is but one end for such a man… off with his head! You had better not preach repentance until you have pledged your head to heaven."

Kent Hughes gives the following illustration…

Those of us who grew up in the fifties are quite familiar with the name Mickey Cohen because he was the most flamboyant criminal of the day. Perhaps some have even heard of Cohen's becoming a "Christian."

The story goes like this: At the height of his career, Cohen was persuaded to attend an evangelistic service at which he showed a surprising interest in Christianity. Hearing of this, and realizing what a great influence a converted Mickey Cohen could have for the Lord, some prominent Christian leaders began visiting him in an effort to convince him to accept Christ. Late one night, after repeatedly being encouraged to open the door of his life on the basis of Revelation 3:20 ("I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will go in and eat with him, and he with me"), Cohen prayed.

Hopes ran high among his believing acquaintances. But with the passing of time no one could detect any change in Cohen's life. Finally they confronted him with the reality that being a Christian meant he would have to give up his friends and his profession. Cohen demurred. His logic? There are "Christian football players, Christian cowboys, Christian politicians; why not a Christian gangster?"

“The fact is,” said evangelist J Edwin Orr (one of the leaders who had spoken with Cohen) “repentance is the missing note in much modern evangelism.”

The absurdity of what happened to Mickey Cohen dramatically underscores what is happening to untold numbers today. Though many ostensibly have "accepted Christ," they continue life as they always have. There is no repentance. They remain self-sufficient, even puffed up. Indeed, they are nowhere near the kingdom because they have not experienced the poverty of spirit that the first Beatitude insists is the initial ground of the kingdom of heaven. (Hughes, R. K. Sermon on the Mount) (Bolding added)

Max Lucado rightly observes that…

Where there is faith, repentance, and a new birth, there is a Christian. When I meet a man whose faith is in the cross and whose eyes are on the Savior, I meet a brother. (Lucado, M.. In the Grip of Grace. Dallas, Tex.: Word Pub)

J C Ryle wrote that…

You may say, perhaps, ‘It is never too late to repent.’ I answer, ‘That is right enough; but late repentance is seldom true.’ And I say further, you cannot be certain if you put off repenting, you will repent at all.

D L Moody wrote that…

Man is born with his back toward God. When he truly repents, he turns right around and faces God. Repentance is a change of mind…Repentance is the tear in the eye of faith.

Robert Smith sounds a true note writing that…

True repentance has a double aspect; it looks upon things past with a weeping eye, and upon the future with a watchful eye.

Augustine stated that…

There is one case of death-bed repentance recorded—the penitent thief—that no one should despair; and only one, that no one should presume.

Vance Havner in "Pepper" wrote that…

On his second evangelistic mission to Great Britain, D. L. Moody preached repentance. It was said: "He had come to know that unless there was a genuine turning from known sin in life and thought, there was little permanency of change

Thomas Manton described "pseudo-repentance"…

If an unregenerate man should leave off sin under fear of death or hell, it would not be out of hatred to sin, but out of the fear of the punishment, as the bird is kept from the bait by the scarecrow.

Puritan Thomas Watson wrote that…

By delay of repentance, sin strengthens, and the heart hardens. The longer ice freezeth, the harder it is to be broken.

Corrie ten Boom (1892–1983) said that

An unrepented sin is a continued sin.

A. W. Tozer (1897–1963) wrote that…

God will take nine steps toward us, but he will not take the tenth. He will incline us to repent, but he cannot do our repenting for us.

The evangelist Sammy Tippit tells the story about the roots of revival in a local Baptist church in Romania (prior to the overthrow of the dictatorship)…

This godly (pastor)… began to preach on the theme "The Repenters Must Repent." He preached repentance and taught prayer from December to the following June. Then the church entered into a covenant of repentance. Every member covenanted to no longer partake of any alcohol. Also, they covenanted not to lie on their jobs, a characteristic of the people of that area. The believers committed themselves not to be conformed to the world. The Repenters repented. The Holy Spirit was released with mighty power. Fewer than fifty had come to Jesus and were baptized in that church during the year prior to this godly pastor's arrival. The church baptized more than 200 people in the six months after entering into the covenant. The church continues to grow and has become one of the greatest churches in all of Europe.

We must learn that God is holy. If we are to experience the manifest presence of God's glory, we must repent. When Isaiah saw the glory of God in the Temple, he was driven to brokenness, confession, and repentance. Too many in the West desire to know the manifest love of God without the manifest holiness of God. We have lost the message of repentance. Now the church in the West is the sleeping Giant. The church in the East sends a strong message: The Repenters must repent! Many have attached themselves to the church without becoming "repenters." We have preached a gospel without a distinct call for repentance. But throughout the Scriptures we are admonished to repent and believe. John the Baptist preached and baptized with a "baptism of repentance" prior to the ministry of reconciliation of Jesus. (cp Mt 3:2, 4:17, 11:20, 12:41, Eze18:30, 31, 32 Mk 1:4,15, 6:12 Lk 13:3, 5, 15:7,10, 16:30, 24:47, Acts 2:38, 3:19, 5:31, 8:22, 26:20, 17:30, 20:21, 2Co7:9, 10, 12:21)

In the United States several years ago, I was witnessing to a group of homosexuals. The leader claimed to be the pastor of a homosexual church and said that he had "accepted Jesus as my Savior" and yet continued in his homosexual life-style. He believed there was no need for repentance.

This lack of repentance is typical. Recent Gallup polls show millions of people in America having had "born again" experiences. Yet there has been very little impact on the moral fiber of the country. The great awakenings of the past have always affected the morality of the people awakened and the communities in which they lived.

The disciples of Jesus were first called "followers of the Way" (Acts 19:9, 23, 24:24, 22). Jesus was the way (Jn 14:6). When they decided to follow Jesus, they decided to follow an entirely new way of life (2Co 5:17). That is simple repentance, a willingness to leave the old way of life in order to follow "the way, the truth, and the life." Jesus says, "No man can serve two masters. He will love the one and hate the other." (Mt 6:24-note)

Repentance is the liberation of the will by Jesus Christ to serve God. The will is in bondage to sin prior to conversion. Salvation takes place when a person realizes his hopelessness and absolute need of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. When by faith he receives Jesus, he is made a new person He now has a desire not to follow his old ways but to follow Jesus. He is placed on a highway called holiness (Is 35:8, cp Jer 6:16, 18:15). It is a highway upon which he will travel for the remainder of his life by the power of God. (Sammy Tippit Ministries - Chapter 6 - Holiness - The Root of His Grace - Part I)

Billy Graham once said…

If your sorrow is because of certain consequences that have come on your family because of your sin, this is remorse, not true repentance. If, on the other hand, you are grieved because you also sinned against God and his holy laws, then you are on the right road.

In his book I Surrender, Patrick Morley writes that the church’s integrity problem is in the misconception “that we can add Christ to our lives, but not subtract sin. It is a change in belief without a change in behavior.” (Ed comment: While ultimately only God knows a person's heart, if a person "changes belief" and never has any "change in behavior", one would have to question the authenticity of their salvation. See related topic Obedience of faith; related discussion of obedience of faith and also discussion of noun faith = pistis and verb believe = pisteuo); see discussion of no inheritance in the Kingdom of God -- Gal 5:21-note; Ep 5:5-note)

As someone has well said…

Salvation is not turning over a new leaf but receiving a new life!

Regret, Remorse, Repentance

Regret is being sorry—mentally (King Saul, for example).

Remorse is being sorry—mentally and emotionally (like Judas).

Repentance is being sorry—mentally, emotionally, and volitionally (like Simon Peter, among others)

Gardiner Spring (1785–1873) in contrasting remorse and repentance wrote that…

It is one thing to mourn for sin because it exposes us to hell, and another to mourn for it because it is an infinite evil; one thing to mourn for it because it is injurious to ourselves, and another thing to mourn for it because it is wrong and offensive to God. It is one thing to be terrified; another, to be humbled.

Alexander Maclaren writes that…

VERY near the close of his missionary career the Apostle Paul summed up his preaching as being all directed to enforcing two points, ‘Repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.’ These two, repentance and faith, ought never to be separated in thought, as they are inseparable in fact. True repentance is impossible without faith, true faith cannot exist without repentance.

Yet the two are separated very often, even by earnest Christian teachers. The tendency of this day is to say a great deal about faith, and not nearly enough in proportion about repentance; and the effect is to obscure the very idea of faith, and not seldom to preach ‘Peace! peace! when there is no peace.’ A gospel which is always talking about faith, and scarcely ever talking about sin and repentance, is denuded, indeed, of some of its most unwelcome characteristics, but is also deprived of most of its power, and it may very easily become an ally of unrighteousness, and an indulgence to sin. The reproach that the Christian doctrine of salvation through faith is immoral in its substance derives most of its force from forgetting that ‘repentance towards God’ is as real a condition of salvation as is ‘ faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.’ We have here the Apostle’s deliverance about one of these twin thoughts. We have three stages- the root, the stem, the fruit; sorrow, repentance, salvation. But there is a right and a wrong kind of sorrow for sin. The right kind breeds repentance; and thence reaches salvation; the wrong kind breeds nothing, and so ends in death…

Again, the true means of evoking true repentance is the contemplation of the Cross. Law and the fear of hell may startle into sorrow, and even lead to some kind of repentance. But it is the great power of Christ’s love and sacrifice which will really melt the heart into true repentance. You may hammer ice to pieces, but it is ice still. You may bray a fool in a mortar, and his folly will not depart from him. Dread of punishment may pulverise the heart, but not change it; and each fragment, like the smallest bits of a magnet, will have the same characteristics as the whole mass. But ‘the goodness of God leads to repentance,’ as the prodigal is conquered and sees the true hideousness of the swine’s trough, when he bethinks himself of he father’s love. I beseech you to put yourselves under the influence of that great love, and look on that Cross till your hearts melt…

It is when you lift the shutter off conscience, and let the light of God rush in upon your hearts and consciences, that you have the wholesome sorrow that worketh repentance and salvation and life.

Oh, dear friends, I do beseech you to lay these simple thoughts to heart. Remember, I urge no rigid uniformity of experience or character, but I do say that unless a man has learned to see his sin in the light of God, and in the light of God to weep over it, he has yet to know “the strait gate that leadeth unto life.”

I believe that a very large amount of the superficiality and easy-goingness of the Christianity of today comes just from this, that so many who call themselves Christians have never once got a glimpse of themselves as they really are. I remember once peering over the edge of the crater of Vesuvius, and looking down into the pit, all swirling with sulphurous fumes. Have you ever looked into your hearts, in that fashion, and seen the wreathing smoke and the flashing fire there? If you have, you will cleave to that Christ, Who is your sole deliverance from sin. (Alexander Maclaren. Expositions of the Holy Scripture from his sermon on 2Corinthians 7:10 "Sorrow According to God") (Bolding added)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that

Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our church… Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance

J. Edwin Orr writes that…

The word “repentance” or “repent” is used in the writings of Paul to the Romans, the Corinthians, and to Timothy, and by the writer to the Hebrews as well as by Peter. It occurs ten times in the Book of the Revelation of John. In all of the New Testament it appears more than fifty times. Hebrews lists it as an elementary doctrine of Christ, a foundation. How serious then is the condition of a professing church where repentance is missing from its elementary evangelism or church growth?

Repentance is not just for paupers…

Some people do not wish to hear much of repentance, but I think it so necessary that, if I should die in the pulpit, I wish to die preaching repentance; and if out of the pulpit, practicing it.

In his excellent biography of Andrew Jackson, Marquis James tells of a Sunday morning in 1818 when the General traveled from his home, the Hermitage, into downtown Nashville to attend a Methodist Conference. The famous circuit-riding preacher, Peter Cartwright, was to speak that day.

The pastor of the church had invited Cartwright with misgivings, for the evangelist was unpredictable. He had been known to knock a sinner down and literally drag him to the throne of grace. But interest had been high, and it seemed that everyone in Nashville had come to church that Sunday to see the eccentric Cartwright. His text was: “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?”

Cartwright had just read his text and had paused to let the words sink in when General Jackson entered the church and slowly walked down the aisle. Every seat was taken, and he stood for a moment, leaning against a pillar.

Peter Cartwright felt a tug at the tail of his coat. “General Jackson has come in!” the Nashville pastor whispered excitedly. “General Jackson has come in.”

The whisper was audible to most of the church. Peter Cartwright’s jaw tightened, and he gave the minister a look of scorn.

“Who is General Jackson?” shouted Cartwright. “If he doesn’t repent and get his soul converted,” he continued, saying in effect, “God will damn his soul to hell as quick as an unconverted pagan.”

After the sermon, Rev. Cartwright was advised to leave town immediately, for Jackson was known for his fiery temper and his deadly duels. Instead, the evangelist accepted an invitation to preach at a church right next to the Hermitage.

Jackson invited him to dinner. (Morgan, R. J. 2000. Nelson's Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations, and Quotes Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers)

Is It Repentance?

Regret is being sorry—mentally (King Saul, for example).

Remorse is being sorry—mentally and emotionally (like Judas).

Repentance is being sorry—mentally, emotionally, and volitionally (like Matthew, among others). (Ibid)

Alan Redpath wrote that…

God will never plant the seed of his life upon the soil of a hard, unbroken spirit. He will only plant that seed where the conviction of his Spirit has brought brokenness, where the soil has been watered with the tears of repentance as well as the tears of joy.

The "R" Word -

Jimmy had trouble pronouncing the letter “R” so his teacher gave him a sentence to practice at home: “Robert gave Richard a rap in the rib for roasting the rabbit so rare.”

Some days later the teacher asked him to say the sentence for her. Jimmy rattled it off like this: “Bob gave Dick a poke in the side for not cooking the bunny enough.”

He had evaded the letter “R.”

There are a lot of people today—including Christians—who go to great lengths to avoid the “R” word of “Repentance.”

Hurley offers this definition…

Repentance has been defined as a turning around—from going in the wrong direction to going in the right direction. Repentance comes as a process. We first acknowledge our lost condition, then assume personal responsibility for our spiritual failures. As a result, we grieve over our rejection of God’s grace and willingly change our direction in life, turning to God’s way from our way. (Hurley, V. Speaker's Sourcebook of New Illustrations Dallas: Word Publishers)

Don't wait till the 11th hour to repent --
you may die at 10:30!

An illustration from the Speaker's Quote Book

A Sunday school teacher asked a class what the word “repentance” means.

A little boy put up his hand and said, “It is being sorry for your sins.”

A little girl also raised her hand and said, “It is being sorry enough to quit.”

A schoolgirl was saved and someone asked her, “What were you before?” She said, “A sinner.” The she was asked, “What are you now?” She answered, “A sinner.” They asked, “What’s the difference?”

She answered, “I was a sinner running after sin. But now I’m a sinner running from sin.” (Zuck, R. B.. The Speaker's Quote Book. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications)

It's never too soon to repent,
but soon it may be too late.

C. S. Lewis (1898–1963) said that…

Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement; he is a rebel who must lay down his arms … This process of surrender—this movement full speed astern—is what Christians call repentance. Now repentance is no fun at all. It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death.

Steve Gallagher writes that…

True repentance comes when a man’s heart has changed its outlook on sin. A man will only quit his sinful, destructive behavior when he has truly repented of it in his heart. As he moves closer to the heart of God, he begins to develop a “godly sorrow” over his sin… Spiritual repentance is an experience whereby a person’s will is altered for the express purpose of bringing it into line with God’s will. (Gallagher, S. At The Altar Of Sexual Idolatry. Dry Ridge, KY: Pure Life Ministries)

Ray Pritchard

In 1937 the American Tract Society sponsored a contest in which they offered a prize of $1,000 for the best new book written on one of the “essential evangelical doctrines of the Christian faith.” Sixty-one years ago, $1,000 was a lot of money and a great many well-known Christian authors entered the contest hoping to win the prize. A committee representing six denominations judged the entries. The judges unanimously chose a book written by a man whose name I have mentioned before—Dr. Harry Ironside, who for many years served as pastor of the famous Moody Memorial Church in downtown Chicago. The book he wrote is entitled Except Ye Repent. The title is taken from the King James Version of Luke 13:3 where Jesus said to the men of his day, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

Let me quote the first sentence from Dr. Ironside’s introduction: “Fully convinced in my own mind that the doctrine of repentance is the missing note in many otherwise orthodox and fundamentally sound circles today, I have penned this volume out of a full heart.” Repentance, he says, is the missing note in many otherwise sound churches. If it was so in 1937, how much more it must be true in 1998.

In our day, and in our circles, the doctrine of repentance is not preached very often. There are several reasons for this. First, we live in a superficial age and any preaching of repentance is bound to cut through the superficiality. This is one point on which both liberals and conservatives share unspoken agreement—no one wants to go to church and hear hard truth from the pulpit, and repentance is the ultimate hard truth. Second, some evangelicals fear the preaching of repentance because they think it somehow opposes the gospel of grace. Their fears are justified if repentance is made to equal penance, the act whereby a man atones for his own sin. But that is not true biblical repentance. Where true repentance is preached, it actually promotes the grace of God. (Repent! The Forgotten Doctrine of Salvation by Dr. Ray Pritchard)

From a devotional in (Our Daily Bread: A Daily Devotional)

Two kinds of repentance are possible in human experience. One is ‘the sorrow of the world,” a feeling induced by the fear of getting caught. Many people recognize the unpleasant consequences of their sin and are persuaded that they are guilty. This results in a superficial sorrow that may lead to a temporary reformation but not to a genuine turning to Christ for forgiveness. Godly sorrow, on the other hand, is accompanied by conviction of sin, the work of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:37). This stems from the realization of offending a holy God. It leads to genuine repentance. An unknown author wrote,

“There is a radical distinction between natural regret and God-given repentance. The flesh can feel remorse, acknowledge its evil deeds, and be ashamed of itself. However, this sort of disgust with past actions can be quickly shrugged off, and the individual can soon go back to his old wicked ways. None of the marks of true repentance described in 2 Corinthians 7:11 are found in his behavior. Out of a list of 10 men in the Bible who said, “I have sinned,” we believe only five actually repented. They were David (2 Sam. 12:13), Nehemiah (Neh. 1:6), Job (Job 42:5, 6), Micah (Micah 7:9), and the prodigal son (Luke 15:18).” (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

See also repentance in Easton's, Nave's Topic, Torrey's Topic, ISBE, Holman) (Click Vine's definition of metanoia) (See Counterfeit Repentance, The Nature of True Repentance (1), The Nature of True Repentance (2) by Puritan Thomas Watson)

Recommended Resources: Repentance

Spurgeon's Sermon Notes: Repentance

Chambers explains that

Conviction of sin is one of the rarest things that ever strikes a man. It is the threshold of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict of sin, and when the Holy Spirit rouses a man's conscience and brings him into the presence of God, it is not his relationship with men that bothers him, but his relationship with God - "against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight." The marvels of conviction of sin, forgiveness, and holiness are so interwoven that it is only the forgiven man who is the holy man, he proves he is forgiven by being the opposite to what he was, by God's grace. Repentance always brings a man to this point: I have sinned. The surest sign that God is at work is when a man says that and means it. Anything less than this is remorse for having made blunders, the reflex action of disgust at himself. The entrance into the Kingdom is through the panging pains of repentance crashing into a man's respectable goodness; then the Holy Ghost, Who produces these agonies, begins the formation of the Son of God in the life. The new life will manifest itself in conscious repentance and unconscious holiness, never the other way about. The bedrock of Christianity is repentance. Strictly speaking, a man cannot repent when he chooses; repentance is a gift of God. The old Puritans used to pray for "the gift of tears." If ever you cease to know the virtue of repentance, you are in darkness. Examine yourself and see if you have forgotten how to be sorry. (Devotional)

So Peter that God uses the delay before the coming of Christ in order to carry out His redemptive purposes. A reasonable corollary and application of this truth is that all Christians should wisely use the time before the second advent to preach the gospel with their lives, which might open a door for us to open our lips about Jesus. Some of our lives are speaking so loud to the lost that they can't "hear" the gospel we are trying to proclaim with our lips.

"Redeem the time for the days are evil" (Ep 5:16-note)

for as Jesus said the

"Night is coming when no man can work." (Jn 9:4)

As you review Peter’s arguments, you can see that his evidence is irrefutable.

He pointed out that the scoffers willfully rejected evidence in order that they might continue in their sins and scoffing.

He proved from the Scriptures that God has intervened in past history, and that He has the power to do it today.

He showed that the scoffers had a very low view of God’s character because they thought He delayed in keeping His promises just as men do.

Finally, he explained that God does not live in the realm of human time, and that His so-called “delay” only gives more opportunity for lost sinners to repent and be saved. God is good… all the time!

Individual Repentance

By Charles H. Spurgeon

Return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good. — Jeremiah 18:11

THIS is the voice of mercy, anxious about each individual.

Justice might slay the sinner in his sin; but mercy would slay the sin, and spare the sinner.

Yet it is the voice of holiness, opposed to each man's special evil way; and claiming of each man an acceptable life. The Lord Jesus has not come to be the Minister of sin, but the Destroyer of it.

Let us hear each one for himself on this occasion, for have we not every one some evil way of his own?

It is Jehovah's voice, and concerning its message we enquire:

I. WHAT? "Return."

This includes three things.

1. Stop! Stand still! Go not a foot further in your evil way.

2. Turn round! Face towards God, holiness, heaven, etc.

3. Hasten back! Practically move in the right way, and continue in that good course which is the reverse of your present one.

II. WHEN? "Return ye now."

1. Every step makes so much more to retrace.

2. Every step makes it more difficult to return.

3. Further wandering will be wanton and willful; a presumptuous rejection of the warning which is now so earnestly given.

4. Never again may you have an opportunity to return.

There is nothing certain about life save its uncertainty.

Joy is being lost by this procrastination; you are missing present peace of mind.

God is robbed of your service, and you cannot make up the loss.

Man is being injured by your example.

Every reason pleads for now, but for delay there is no excuse.

III. WHO? "Return ye now every one."

The personality of the call to each hearer of it is necessary, for—

1. Each man has his own peculiar way of sin.

2. Each man is apt to think of his neighbor's sin more than his own.

3. Each man needs a special effectual call ere he will turn.

4. Each man is now lovingly invited to return.

IV. FROM WHAT? "From his evil way."

"We have turned every one to his own way" (Isa. 53:6). This way of your own you are to return from,—

Your own personal sin.

Your constitutional sin.

Your most frequent sin.

To many it will be important to be able to discover this favorite sin.

1. It is that into which you are most easily led.

2. It is that which has already been most indulged by you.

3. It is that about which you are most irritated if you are rebuked concerning it. Darling sins must not be touched, or their fond friends grow angry.

4. It is that for which you give up other sins; a covetous person will not be extravagant, a hypocrite will deny himself, etc.

5. It is that with which you are most loth to part.

6. It is that on which you spend most money, energy, etc.

From such a darling sin each man must turn.

V. TO WHAT? "Make your ways and doings good."

Negative religion is not enough, there must be positive goodness.

1. Your general habits or ways must be made good as a whole.

2. Your ways in reference to yourself.

3. Your doings towards both God and man.

Personal examination of the utmost importance.

Practical repentance an absolute necessity.

Yet how difficult is the way back. To descend into sin is easy, but to retrace your steps, this is the work, this is the labor.

Only by faith in the Lord Jesus can it be accomplished, a look at his cross breeds more repentance than anything in the world besides.

To those who believe in Jesus, he will send the Holy Spirit to lead them in the way everlasting.

Introduction: This is the voice of mercy, anxious about each individual. It is Jehovah’s words.

1. What? Return! This includes Stopping. Turning around. Hastening back.

2. When? Now! Every step away makes it more difficult to return, and there’s no promise for future opportunities.

3. Who? Every one! We’re more apt to notice our neighbor’s sin than our own, but each of us must give an account for ourselves.

4. From What? His evil way! There is none good, not one.

5. To What? Ways and doings that are good! Negative religion is not enough, there must be positive goodness.

Conclusion: Personal repentance is of utmost importance, and practical repentance is an absolute necessity. (Charles Spurgeon's Sermon Notes 0091 -

See also Spurgeon's Sermon notes on

And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen. (31) Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities, and for your abominations. — Ezekiel 36:30, 31

Ezek. 36:30, 31
Mistaken Notions About Repentance
by C H Spurgeon

THE day of manifested mercy is to be the day of hearty repentance.

"Then." When God loads you with benefits you shall loathe yourselves.

The Lord speaks as one who is supreme in the region of free agency, and able to work his will with human minds: "Then shall ye," etc.

His processes of grace are such as, in the nature of things, lead up to the end which he proposes.

He declares that he will conquer by love — love so wonderful that the objects of it must of necessity yield to its power, and change their minds and their conduct.

Repentance is wrought in the heart by a sense of love divine.

This sets repentance in its true light, and helps us to meet a great many mistakes which have darkened this subject. Many are kept from Christ and hope by misapprehensions of this matter. They have:


They confound it with:

1. Morbid self-accusation, which is the fruit of dyspepsia, or melancholy, or insanity. This is an infirmity of mind, and not a grace of the Spirit. A physician may here do more than a divine.

2. Unbelief, despondency, despair: which are not even a help to repentance, but tend rather to harden the heart.

3. Dread of hell, and sense of wrath: which might occur even to devils, and yet would not cause them to repent. A measure of this may go with repentance, but it is no part of it.

4. Satanic temptations. These are by no means like to repentance, which is the fruit of the Spirit.

5. A complete knowledge of the guilt of sin; which even advanced saints have not yet obtained.

6. Entire abstinence from all sin — a consummation devoutly to be wished, but by no means included in repentance.

It is a hatred of evil, a sense of shame, a longing to avoid sin, wrought by a sense of divine love.


1. It is looked upon by some as a procuring cause of grace, as if repentance merited remission: a grave error.

2. It is wrongly viewed by others as a preparation for grace; a human goodness laying the foundation for mercy, a meeting of God half way; this is a deadly error.

3. It is treated as a sort of qualification for believing, and even as the ground for believing: all which is legality, and contrary to pure gospel truth.

4. Others treat it as the argument for peace of mind. They have repented so much, and it must be all right. This is to build our confidence upon a false foundation.

Repentance attends faith, and is a precious gift of the Spirit of God.


It is not produced by a distinct and immediate attempt to repent.

Nor by strong excitement at revival meetings.

Nor by meditating upon sin, and death, and hell, etc.

But the God of all grace produces it:

1. By his free grace, which by its action renews the heart (verse 26).

2. By bringing his great mercy to our mind.

3. By making us receive new mercy (verses 28-30).

4. By revealing himself and his methods of grace (verse 32).

Every gospel truth urges repentance upon the regenerate. Election, redemption, justification, adoption, eternal love, etc., are all arguments for loathing every evil way.

Every gospel privilege makes us loathe sin: prayer, praise, the reading of Scripture, the fellowship of saints, the table of the Lord, etc.

Every gospel hope puriles us from sin, whether it be a hope for more grace in this world, or for glory in the next.

Oh, that we might feel the touch of love, and weep ourselves away for having grieved our Lord! This would work in us a revenge against all our sins, and lead us to entire consecration to our holy Lord.

There are no arguments like those that are drawn from the consideration of the great and glorious things Christ hath done for you; and if such will not take such will not take with you, and win upon you, I do not think the throwing of hell-fire in your face will ever do it. — Thomas Brooks

God's loving-kindnesses and mercies do work more with sinners than his judgments do. All the time the Jews were in Babylon, their hearts were never so affected for their sins as after God brought them out, settled them in Canaan, and showed much love unto them; then they should remember their evil ways, before they minded them not; then they should loathe themselves. Mercies in Zion are more efficacious with sinners than judgments in Babylon; God's favor melts hard hearts sooner then the fire of his indignation; his kindness is very penetrative, it gets into the hearts of sinners sooner than his threats and frowns; it is like a small soaking rain, which goes to the roots of things, whereas a dashing rain runs away, and does little good. It was David's kindness that brake the heart of Saul (1Sa 24); and it is God's kindness which breaks the hearts of sinners. The milk and honey of the gospel affect the hearts of sinners more than the gall and wormwood of the law; Christ on Mount Zion brings more to repentance than Moses on Mount Sinai. — William Greenhill

Cowper, the poet, in his own memoirs of his early life, describes the time when he reflected on the necessity of repentance.

"I knew that many persons had spoken of shedding tears for sin; but when I asked myself whether the time would ever come when I should weep for mine, it seemed to me that a stone might sooner do it. Not knowing that Christ was exalted to give repentance, I despaired of ever attaining it."

A friend came to his bedside, and declared to him the gospel. He insisted on the all-atoning efficacy of the blood of Jesus, and his righteousness for our justification.

"Then;' says Cowper, "while I heard this part of his discourse, and the Scriptures on which he founded it, my heart began to burn within me; my soul was pierced with a sense of my bitter ingratitude to so merciful a Savior; and those tears, which I thought impossible, burst forth freely."

I Will Leave You Alone God… If... People who want nothing to do with God make themselves candidates for His ultimate judgment. They spend their days alienated from Him, and will spend eternity banished from God's presence unless they repent.

Aaron Burr, the third Vice President of the United States, was reared in a godly home and admonished to accept Christ by his grand-father Jonathan Edwards. But he refused to listen. Instead, he de­clared that he wanted nothing to do with God and said he wished the Lord would leave him alone. He achieved a measure of political suc­cess in spite of repeated disappointments. But he was also involved in continuous strife. When he was forty-eight years old, he killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. He lived for thirty-two more years, but was unhappy and unproductive. During this sad chapter in his life he declared to a group of friends,

"Sixty years ago I told God that if He would let me alone, I would let Him alone, and God has not bothered about me since."

Aaron Burr got what he wanted.

Thomas Russell Ybarra (Ed note: incorrectly) defined a Christian as a person who does "repentance on a Sunday for what he did on Saturday and is going to do on Monday."

True biblical repentance is never that short-lived; it is a complete about-face. John challenged the Jews to prepare themselves for the coming Messiah by turning from their sins to holiness. This meant changing their minds and actions.

The sorry truth is that repentance has very little to do with crying our eyes out. Repentant people may be tearful, but tear­ful people are not always repentant. Repentance means turning around. It is a compass test; does a person know how to go south after he or she has been going north?

God is sometimes described as repenting of His plans, such as with Nineveh (Jonah 3:10), but this may be humanity's limited attempt to explain the actions of an all-knowing God. What is significant, even if from a human standpoint, is that God in His repentance makes a complete U-turn, and this is a perfect model for us to follow.

Never-on-Sunday sinning is not what the Changemaker had in mind. Change of heart means a change of life every day.

What is repentance? And how do we know when it is genuine?

A man who came to see me said he felt so much guilt before he was saved that he couldn't eat for days. Because he knew that I had not gone through such an intense period of grief, he said he didn't think I had truly repented.

Another man wept when he told me that his wife had left him because of his drinking and infidelity. He tearfully professed faith in Jesus and vowed to be done with his sinful lifestyle. But when his wife returned, he soon went back to his old ways.

In a similar situation, a man confessed with little emotion what a terrible sinner he was. He admitted his need for grace and received Christ. That was the end of his old lifestyle. Which of these two men genuinely repented?

Paul said godly sorrow for sin leads to salvation and a new life, whereas the sorrow of the world - merely feeling bad about sin's consequences - leaves a person unchanged and leads to death. True repentance doesn't mean we never sin again. But if we admit that we are helpless sinners, if we believe that Jesus died for our sins, if we are trusting Him for salvation, and if we have a deep desire to live for Him, our repentance is genuine. We have been forgiven.-- Herbert Vander Lugt (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

True repentance leaves the sin
That we had loved before,
With firm resolve to turn from it
And yield to it no more.-- Anon.

Repentance says, "I'm sorry," but also shows, "I'm through."