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Repentance ReDefined


Repent! How often have I heard that word in my Christian walk. From the time I was old enough to talk I've heard about repent, repenting, repentance, etc. We see in the message of John the Baptist and Peter the idea that you should repent and baptised for the remittance of sins. Then through the religious dark and middle ages we see priests bringing for penances (payment for sin) and we see them literally beating themselves in sorrow for their sin. It's even made fun of in this clip from Monty Python's "The Holy Grail":

Unfortunately not only is the World full of this kind of repentance, not only is religion full of it, the modern Christian Church is full of it too. No, we don't walk around beating ourselves, not physically anyway. We do however walk around "feeling bad" about our sin. Or we get this idea that repentance means to feel bad about our sin. No doubt when you look up the word online that definition is further entrenched in our mind.

Etymology Online:
repent (v.) Look up repent at
late 13c., "to feel regret for sins or crimes," from Old French repentir (11c.), from re-, here probably an intensive prefix, + Vulgar Latin *penitire "to regret," from Latinpoenitire "make sorry," from poena (see penal). The distinction between regret (q.v.) and repent is made in many modern languages, but the differentiation is not present in older periods. Related: Repentedrepenting.

Websters Online Dictionary: 
Definition of REPENTintransitive verb
: to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life2
a : to feel regret or contrition
b : to change one's mindtransitive verb
: to cause to feel regret or contrition2
: to feel sorrow, regret, or contrition for— re·pent·er noun See repent defined for English-language learners »See repent defined for kids »Examples of REPENT
  1. The preacher told us that we would be forgiven for our sins if we repented.
  1. criminals who have repented for their crimes
  1. The preacher told us that we would be forgiven if werepented our sins.
Origin of REPENTMiddle English, from Anglo-French repentir, from Medieval Latin repoenitēre, from Latin re- + Late Latin poenitēre to feel regret, alteration of Latin paenitēre — more at penitentFirst Known Use: 14th century

So then we are left with this idea that to repent is to feel bad about our sin and turn away from it. Then many of us have been told it's a Greek Military term that means for us to turn and go the opposite direction:

As see in this Article Excerpt:

A Military TermIt was used by the Greek army as a military command, much like the command, “About turn!” is used by the Australian Army today. The United States Army uses, “To the rear, march!” Picture in your mind a Greek army of Spartans marching across a mesa to battle. All of a sudden, the commander sees a steep precipice ahead and recognizes the immediate danger to his troops. He calls out, “Metanoáysate!” Unless each one changes his mind about the direction he is going, and reverses direction, he will plunge to his death over the precipice. The command is to repent, change direction before it is too late. How appropriate is the likeness to God's command to mankind, to illustrate its spiritual meaning!“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way . . .” Isa. 53:6). Each one is going down on the broad way that will plunge us into eternal destruction unless direction is reversed (Matt. 7:13,14). “Unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3,5). Each one must change his mind about the direction he is going, about the way he is living, about the way he is treating God. Each one must repent or shall plunge into eternity to perish forever! Now God “. . . commandeth all men (humans) everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).

Is this the right definition?

So I ask myself... is this right? Is this the idea? Why do I ask? Well I ask first of all because we have the USA full of "Christians" repenting and not getting anywhere with it. They are not living in victory of any kind. They feel bad, the try to turn, but as with all religious activity it is void of the real power to change. Paul describes religion without the Holy Spirit in Romans 7:15 "For that which I do I allow not: for what I would , that do I not; but what I hate , that do I." So then I come across this scripture and I am made to pause, and ponder.
Matthew 4:17
From that time Jesus began to preach , and to say , "Repent : for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Only once, in all my reading of the New Testament, and I've read it through many times, have I seen Jesus even touch on the forgiveness of sins. The one time he forgave a man of his sins the man didn't even ask for it. In fact this idea that the Gospel message is about confessing sins to be saved so you can go to heaven is conspicuously absent from most of the New Testament. Now before you go thinking I've gone nuts, getting saved and going to heaven is definitely in the bible and is a core part of the walk of the believer. It is the ultimate hope for the life after death. However, that's not what MOST of the New Testament focuses on. MOST of the NT focuses on our life here and now. In fact, Jesus' message was nearly entirely about how to live life, not how to die.

So here it is. Jesus first message of any kind, in the first book of the NT. This is the cornerstone He will build His ministry on: "Repent, for the Kingdom of God/Heaven is at hand." Yet not once does he ever tell people to ask for forgiveness for their sins or to even feel bad about their sin. Huh? Then what does this really mean?

Repentance: A new definition

First of all, studying the Kingdom of God/Heaven is a WHOLE other subject. It is sufficient for this post to say that God has a system and the World/Devil has a system. God's system brings THE BLESSING and the World's System brings the curse. We are not waiting for God's kingdom to come some day, it's been here for over 2,000 years, working in and through His people. It's only as effective as they are. Jesus said that the children of the World work their system better than God's people, and we see this to this day with the results of the 2012 elections. Luke 16:8. So the Kingdom of God isn't about something that will come someday far in the future after we die or Jesus returns, it is here and now. The entire ministry of Jesus was to teach and preach about the Kingdom of God.

So what does repentance have to do with God's system of operation? How does "feel sorrow for your sin and turn away from it" fit in the actual messages Jesus taught in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? It doesn't. It doesn't fit at all. You find zero of it in his teaching. So maybe you need to take a closer look at the Greek word and not it's uses afterward in other languages like Latin or French.

So turn with me to the Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible NASB edition.

Matthew 4:17From that time Jesus began to preach , and to say , "Repent : for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Repent here is the Greek word: Metanoeo. It is is compared to two other words Pronoia and Metamellomai. More on those in a moment.

Metanoeo; Repent with regret accompanied by a true change of heart.

Ok so fine, this agrees with other translations, right? Well, maybe not, let's take a look at the real root meaning of the word. Jesus was always re-defining life. It is built from two words. Noeo (G3539) to know. Meta (G3326) after. Therefore it means "To Know After" it contrasted with Pronoeo (G4306) to know ahead. Therefore Metanoeo(repentance) is to repent after where as Pronoeo is foreknowledge to avoid something. Jesus' entire life was lived in Pronoeo. He knew what he ought to do, before He did it. He only did what He saw the Father do and He only said what He heard the Father say. Ultimately our lives should be lived in the Pronoeo as much as possible.

 The reason they define this as regret is how they extrapolate the definition. The Lexicon explains: "It signifies a change of mind consequent to the after knowledge indicating regret for the course pursued and resulting in a wiser view of the past and future. Most importantly, it is distinguished  from metamellomai (G3338) to regret because of the consequences of one's act or acts."

But let's take a good look at this in light of Jesus' Ministry. Jesus never seems to have any focus at all in getting people to feel sorry for sin, regret sin, or any other such notion. In fact he hardly mentions it. In one case a woman in adultery is brought to Him and He tells her that He does not condemn her then says simply: "Go and sin no more." Then He moves on. John 8:11. If Jesus makes such a light deal of actions, what does he make a big deal of? Mindsets!

Jesus spends all His time teaching people about mindsets and getting a better mindset. In fact ALL His teaching is about thought processes. Religion taught you not to kill, but I say don't hate your brother or you already killed in your heart. Religion taught you not to commit adultery, but I tell you that when you look with the intent to lust you already have. Matthew 5. What is Jesus dealing with here? Mindsets. He was teaching them new ways of thinking, new and deeper levels of God's way of thinking about things. He was teaching them to change their mind about the things of life and see them God's way. In Word of Faith circles we call this "Revelation Knowledge". When you have always seen things a certain way and now you see it a new way because God showed you something about it you've never seen before, that is revelation knowledge.

That is exactly what Jesus' ministry way. It was all about revelation knowledge. Everything Jesus did was to help people change their mind about things. This version of repentance makes sense in light of what Jesus taught. "Change Your Mind, due to the new information I've provided, and get in line with the Kingdom of God system and how God does things!" This was the message of Jesus. It permeated everything He said.

Repentance means to: Changing the Mind according to Revelation Knowledge


So what does this mean to me? Well 7 years I've been working on walking in The Kingdom of God as I now know it. I see God working mighty in others lives, I see miracles around me, I see God working at times in my life. But I'm not getting the kind of consistent results I see and hear about in others. I see people younger than me doing more for God than I do. I see myself going around the same mountain and dealing with the same struggles year after year. When victory is hard to come by, it means I'm doing something wrong. My friend suggested, when I asked him about his knowledge of repentance, that maybe it wasn't the word God was trying to teach me about but that He was trying to get me to a change of mind. I found out it was both.

First, by understanding that Repentance means: Changing the mind according to revelation knowledge, I was able to consider and meditate that. It doesn't mean to know something is true. Devil's know God is God and tremble, but they don't adjust their lives to submit to that knowledge. Therefore to repent means to adjust my mindsets according to the revealed knowledge of God. Do I respond in faith when confronted with conflict? Do I complain at work or build others up? What kind of atmosphere do I bring around me? If I'm still having trouble "believing" that God will do something in my life for real it is a result of a lack of a changed or renewed mind.

In fact, Paul took this teaching and expounded on it. He said to transform your life BY THE RENEWING OF THE MIND. Romans 12:2. That process IS the process of repentance. Changing the mindset as a result of revealed knowledge of God. So what am I going to do about it? I'm going to ask myself this week what things God has shown me about His ways of doing things and whether or not I've adjusted my mindsets and therefore my life, to that revealed knowledge.

What are you going to do now? DW

Have questions about anything I said here? Want to share your story? Comment Below!

I call you empowered 2 prosper with good success!

N2 Good SuccessDarrell G. Wolfe
Facebook: Facebook.Com/EmpoweredTooProsper

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Hi! My name is Darrell G. Wolfe. I am a wealth of random information and I make complicated things simple at

I have a knack for absorbing information, breaking it down to its root elements, and teaching it to others.

Most importantly, I help purpose-driven people to understand their place in His-Story and provide them the tools they need to fulfill their unique position of opportunity and influence in this world (their Topos).