Another Resource on Repentance

It has been a crazy week so my final post on Psalm 10 is going to have to wait. However I did find a word study on the biblical term “repentance” which is well worth reading if you are interested. The study is “Repentance: The Most Misunderstood Word in the Bible” by G. Michael Cocoris who runs the Insights From The Word website.

I agree with Pastor Cocoris that repentance is very misunderstood and those misunderstandings have big consequences. An incorrect understanding of repentance leads to an incorrect Gospel presentation which is the definition of heresy.

One of the pastors whose teaching I regularly listen to is Robert Dean. One of Pastor Dean’s favorite stories is one where he is speaking at a Pastors’ Conference and he asks his audience “what do you have to do to be saved?” Without fail one of the answers he gets is “repent!” Then Pastor Dean goes on to tell them that the Gospel of John says that the reason it was written is so that those who read it may be saved and nowhere in John’s Gospel does the word repent appear! I guess that is one of those “gotcha” moments that people love to hear about but it isn’t the whole story either. I wonder what would happen if one of the pastors responded to him like this section from Pastor Cocoris’ book?

The Bible is emphatic that salvation is by faith. Moses wrote that Abraham “believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). Paul proclaimed, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). In these and many other passages faith is the one and only requirement for salvation.

Not only does the Bible repeatedly mention faith as the single requirement, in critical places, it does not mention repentance. The Gospel of John is the only book in the Bible that has as it purpose to bring people to Christ. At the end of his Gospel, John wrote, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book, but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jn. 20:31). Yet the gospel of John does not mention the words “repent” or “repentance” one single time.

The most detailed book in the Bible on salvation is the book of Romans. The chapter in Romans on what one must do to be saved in Romans four, but Romans four does not contain the words “repent” or “repentance.” In fact, the word “repentance” only occurs once in the book of Romans (Rom. 2:14) [Romans 2:4?] and there it is a virtual synonym for faith.

The only book in the Bible written to defend the Gospel is Galatians. Neither the word “repent” nor the word “repentance” makes an appearance in that book at all.

On the other hand, some passages say that repentance is required (Lk. 24:47, Acts 2:38, 3:19, 5:31, 17:30, 26:20, 2 Pet. 3:9, Rev. 9:20-21, 16:9, 11) and in these verses there is no mention of faith.

To complicate matters, faith and repentance appear together in three places (Mk. 1:16, Acts 20:21, Heb. 6:1).

The absence of repentance in critical passages on salvation and yet the insistence on repentance in others is a problem. What is the relationship between faith and repentance? [My emphasis] There are several possible solutions…

Repentance: The Most Misunderstood Word in the Bible
by G. Michael Cocoris
pp 3-4

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2 Comments on “Another Resource on Repentance”

  1. jeff Says:

    Repentance is not faith, but seems to be something that comes before faith. Anytime repentance and faith or believe show up together, repentance is listed first. “Repent and Believe the Gospel.” Repentance is the awakening of sin in a person’s life, seeing what they’ve done as wrong and desiring things to be different. Some repent and are not saved as faith does not follow repentance–Judas. Some have faith without repentance–even the demons believe. But those who are saved are those who repent and believe.

    I think the reason many salvation passages do not include the actual word “repent” is because it is understood. You wouldn’t be coming to true faith unless you saw your need of salvation. You can’t “come to faith” unless you are turning from sin and self.

    I think we should also be careful not to say a word isn’t important because it’s not used enough. Jesus said the second greatest commandment was to love your neighbor, which was said only one time in the whole OT.

    • Glenn Says:

      Hi Jeff,

      I agree with what you wrote. I have come to believe that a solid understanding of how authors of scripture define words is critical. Unfortunately that is a very difficult thing to do and pastors and laymen alike aren’t careful like they should be.

      Thank you for stopping by.

      Glenn


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