The Repentance Factor

The Repentance Factor

The "Greek Factor"

Up till now we have only considered the English word "repent" (and that should be enough for a King James Bible believer), but there is a whole other element involved in this matter and that is the "original language factor" or primarily the "Greek factor." 

Much of the dispute concerning "repent" originates with the definition some scholars give for the underlying Greek word translated as "repent," "metanoeo" (G3340).  According to certain "reliable" scholars the word means, of course, a simple "change of mind," but this definition is by no means universally accepted among the lexicons. Thayer's Greek Lexicon's definition is closely aligned with the English ("to change one's mind for the better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one's past sins"). Spiros Zodhiates' Complete Word Study Dictionary agrees, "Theologically, it involves regret or sorrow, accompanied by a true change of heart toward God." Even Strong's Greek Dictionary adds, "morally, feel compunction." So translating metanoeo with the true English meaning of repent has the support of multiple Greek scholars as well.

A. T. Robertson is one scholar who contends "change of mind" is the only meaning of metanoeo. In his work "Word Pictures of the New Testament" he says under Matt. 3:2,

"Repent (metanoeite). Broadus used to say that this is the worst translation in the New Testament. The trouble is that the English word "repent" means "to be sorry again" from the Latin repoenitet (impersonal)....This is John's great word (Bruce) and it has been hopelessly mistranslated."

Robertson, Broadus, Bruce, et al., contend "repent" is a poor translation because of the English word's meaning. (At least they don't try to change its meaning!). They don't want any "regret" or "remorse" associated with "metanoeo[ite]" at all.

One of the better known contemporary advocates of metanoeo as "change of mind" is Robert Wilkin of Like A. T. Robertson he insists "repent" is a poor translation and without hesitation tells his readers to substitute "change your mind" when they see "repent[ance]" in the Bible (source). He knows what the English "repent" means and does not insult his readers by trying to claim it means something else. 

Since Robert Wilkin made his statement above he has changed his position concerning repentance. He now agrees that repentance means more than just a mind change and includes turning from sin. However, he now insists repentance occurs only AFTER one is saved. It is not related to eternal life at all (source).

Even though your author believes Wilkin is wrong in both positions, Wilkin states what he believes to be the truth and is honest with his readers. The same cannot be said for  others (See next chapter).

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