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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: What Is Repentance?

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Don Stewart
There are two different Greek verbs translated repent in the New Testament. One means a regret of past actions. Judas regretted that he betrayed Jesus, but did not have a change of heart toward God.

The other word translated repent means a change of mind, or attitude. It refers to a complete change about. When the Bible encourages the believer to repent, it is this word that is used.

New Attitude

Repentance is a complete shift of attitude toward God and our sins. The Bible commands people to repent.

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 3:2).

Not Reformation Or Sorrow

Repentance is not reforming our life. Nor is it penance or an attempt to atone for sins. Repentance is change-it is more than sorrow.

Peter And Judas

The difference between true repentance and mere sorrow for sin can be seen in the examples of Peter and Judas. When Peter realized he betrayed Jesus he was sorry for His sins.

After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you. Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, I do not know the man! At that moment the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times. And he went out and wept bitterly (Matthew 26:73-75).

Judas, on the other hand, instead of coming to God in repentance, decided to take his own life.

Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself (Matthew 27: 5).


Peter was restored to fellowship and was given the honor of preaching the first sermon for the church on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Judas, according to Scripture, went to his appointed place of judgment (Acts 1).

These two men provide examples of what we should and should not do when we sin. We repent. We own up to our sin and then the Lord will restore us to fellowship.


The Bible commands believers to repent from their sins.

Peter replied, Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

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Blue Letter Bible offers several daily devotional readings in order to help you refocus on Christ and the Gospel of His peace and righteousness.

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Recognizing the value of consistent reflection upon the Word of God in order to refocus one's mind and heart upon Christ and His Gospel of peace, we provide several reading plans designed to cover the entire Bible in a year.

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The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.