What Does Repent Mean? Is It Different in the New Testament?
REPENT and Believe……. Old Testament Meaning vs New Testament: It Matters
The new testament meaning of ‘repent’ is very different than the one used in the old testament. One is about turning from behavior, the other is about turning from a belief system. Here’s what you need to know.
I believe there is a misunderstanding of “biblical” repentance and its use in the New Testament. Many people describe NT repentance (metanoeo) as being the same as Old Testament repentance (shuwb). To them repent has one meaning—Turn back and DON’T SIN AGAIN and if you struggle with a particular sin they assume you have not turned back and are not repenting and thus are not saved. But is this really true?
Yes, to a degree repenting includes a “turning” away from our sinful desires, however it is not a promise we make to “be perfect at the law” for our salvation. If new the testament meaning of repent only meant stop breaking the law to be saved then wouldn’t that be a works based salvation and wouldn’t it totally undermine verses like “you are saved by faith” or “apart from law” and “apart from works” you are saved?
If you look through the Gospels we discover the Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees and the BEST law keepers of them all were being told to REPENT and BELIEVE.
QUESTION: Why would we tell the most religious law keeping people on planet earth to repent?
ANSWER: Because “repent” did not mean perform better and stop breaking the law.
So then what did repent mean in the new testament? It meant to think differently. To reconsider. In other words a turning and a changing of mind about their belief system. They were denying the deity of Christ and His saving ability and looking to the LAW (rule keeping) to save them. One could say this message was the same as “CHANGE your mind and think differently (repent) about the idea that keeping the law saves you and BELIEVE that only Jesus can do it”.
“Repent and Believe”. There was a sin alright, but it was the sin of disbelief being addressed, hence they were being called to believe. The unpardonable sin and the only one where there is no forgiveness.
Author: Mike Cynar
Mike Cynar grew up in church and observed that countless people would go to church and then just stop. The church always referred to them as ‘fake Christians’ or ‘backsliders’ but Mike discovered the problem was deeper. The problem was the church message. The message was 90% behavior improvement and how bad you are, with a pinch of who you are in Christ, It was like every sermon was being preached to the church of Corinth. It’s in the Baptist church, Catholic, Pentecost, and most every other church. After discovering the true gospel message and how we are made right with God because of what ‘Jesus did’ (not what ‘we do’) Mike set out to free believers from behavior improvement programs and bring them back to Jesus. The Result – Jesus Without Religion was launched.