|The very first public announcement by Christ|
|"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."|
Repentance has several different meanings depending on the context:
- Repentance is a feeling of regret or sorrow; when you wish you had never done something.
Example: Genesis 6:5-6 "And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart." God is sorry that he created humans, they have become so wicked.
- Repentance is a turning away, to cease. Example: Revelation 2:16 "Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth." The Holy Spirit is warning the church of Pergamos to stop their fornication.
- Repentance is primarily a change of the mind, or rather a change in the mind (Greek metanoia—meta "change" + noia "mind"); a personal metamorphosis. This is what repentance means in the context of salvation: Luke 13:1-5 "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Jesus is telling the people they need to change the way they think. In this context, a change of mind represents also a reversal of one's previous moral judgement, a repudiation of one's previous behavior.
There is command to believe: "Repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15). How can anyone believe in Christ if they don't change their thinking? No one naturally sees themselves as a sinner; when you repent, you know and realize you're a sinner. You change from thinking "I'm a basically good person." to "I'm a sinner; I need Jesus." That is the third definition of repentance. "Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee." John 5:14. "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." John 8:11. "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance" Matthew 3:8. (See Corporal and spiritual works of mercy.)
In Luke, the people saw the Galilaeans killed by Pilate, and asked Jesus if this happened because the Galilaeans were terrible, wicked people. "And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." The people needed to stop thinking of others as bad and themselves as good. All are at risk of perishing suddenly, without time to prepare or repent.
Yes, they felt remorse for their sin, (1st definition), but this is not a requirement of believing in Jesus. They couldn't have stopped sinning, (2nd definition), this only comes after you are saved. They needed to repent (3rd definition) to believe and be saved. "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue [alone], but in deed and in truth." 1 John 3:18. "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith alone." James 2:24. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Matthew 7:21. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10
"Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." Luke 24:46-47 King James Bible. The Douay-Rheims Bible says: "penance and remission of sins".
Penance has three related, but distinct, meanings: