The Repentance Factor

The Repentance Factor

The Latin Factor

The usual argument many give for the reason the word "repent" is used in the Bible is because the Latin believers a couple centuries after Christ were ignorant of the true meaning of the word metanoia and associated it with the Latin term "poenitentiam agite" which in English is "repent." In the Latin Vulgate, which was the common Bible for over 1000 years, "poenitentiam agite" is used there as well.  When the English Bibles began to come out with WyCliff and Tyndale, they retained the long established understanding in using repent for metanoia. Thus the etymological history of "repent" and its underlying meaning as found in the English Bible is very long.

Here the question arises, where was God in all of this? Does He not have any interest in His word especially since Hebrew and Kione Greek were essentially dead languages to much of the world and Latin and later English became the dominate languages? If God is indifferent as to how His word is translated, especially His words dealing with sin and salvation, then what is He interested in? Did He allow the meaning of His word metanoia to be hopelessly corrupted for much of the last 2000 years, causing millions to misunderstand and miss salvation, only to be restored in the last century or so by a handful of self-important "Greek scholars"? Was the truth hidden for almost 20 centuries? Not at all. God gave the Latin people the words He wanted them to have as He later did the English. The King James Bible is the pinnacle of his providence and the term "repent" as understood when it was translated is the meaning the almighty God of heaven wanted used! Woe be unto us if we subvert it!

At this point some will exclaim, "But what about 'penance'? Many, including the Roman Church, see the Latin poenitentiam agit as penance where one has to do outward acts to show they are repentant and sorry?" That is just another example of the self-righteous adding works to repentance. Look at the definition of penance,

"voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for having done wrong." (Oxford)

Take note, repentance and penance are separate concepts. Repentance (or penitence, derived from poenitentia) is internal regret and a change of heart or attitude while penance is the outward manifestation of this alleged inner change. Penance is a work; repentance is an attitude.

Thus there is no problem with the Latin poenitentia or the English repent. Both words reflect the meaning the Lord intended: a remorseful change of heart from yourself and towards Him.

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