“Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
The word repentance is a very popular one among believers today. Sadly, it is often misunderstood. The good news however, is that we will be talking about what the bible actually says about repentance in today’s article.
The Greek word for repentance is Metanoia, which means a change of heart. It is used several times to refer specifically to a change of heart from unbelief.
In fact, most of the time the word ‘repent’ is used, it focuses on people who already have a belief system contrary to Christ. Repentance is largely an issue of faith.
In Mark 1:15, Jesus preaching said: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” This is similar to John’s message of repentance (Acts 19:4).
One major people group who were asked to repent were the Jews. Jesus Christ was the long awaited messiah, but because of their unbelief, they rejected him and eventually killed him. They needed to repent from such unbelief if they would be saved (Rom 11:-17-20, Matt 3:7-12).
Repentance is also used as ‘regret’ in the New Testament but it is paramount that we get the context in which it is used.
In Acts 2, Peter is speaking to a multitude of Jews shortly after the Pentecost. See his words from verse 36: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
Notice, these were the same group of people that had called for Jesus to be crucified. This would help you understand verse 37 better.
“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:36-38).
Repentance, simply as an effort to change attitude simply because you regret past sins is not enough to save you. Salvation only comes when you repent from unbelief in Jesus’ saving power and believe the gospel’s message.