The role of repentance in salvation is a second area of great controversy in the Lordship debate.At the heart of the disagreement is the precise meaning of the term as used particularly in the New Testament in soteriological contexts. After examining the controversy over the nature of repentance in relation to salvation, this chapter will proceed to evaluate the lexical arguments and the key Bible passages used by Lordship advocates. The chapter will then conclude with a biblical understanding of repentance.
The controversy over repentance concerns the scope of its meaning in soteriological passages.That the Scriptures sometime refer specifically to a repentance involved with salvation is generally accepted by both sides. 1 While Free Grace advocates think of repentance in terms of a "change of mind," 2 Lordship proponents argue for a narrower definition of repentance as that which is always related to sin. Gentry declares, "The necessary element in salvatory repentance is a true recognition of one's evil state and a decided resolve to forsake sin and thrust oneself at Christ's mercy." 3 Likewise, Mueller asserts, "Repentance is related to the issue of sin, which also includes unbelief in Christ" (emphasis his). 4 MacArthur writes that the primary New Testament word, metanoia, "always speaks of a change of purpose, and specifically a turning from sin" (emphasis his). 5 Pink's formal definition is typical of the Lordship understanding of repentance:"Repentance is a supernatural and inward revelation from God, giving a deep consciousness of what I am in His sight, which causes me to loathe and condemn myself, resulting in a bitter sorrow for sin, a holy horror and hatred for sin, and a turning away from or forsaking of sin." 6 Such a definition makes turning away from sin, though stated as a result, an essential and necessary component of repentance. 7
The criticism of the Free Grace understanding of repentance as a change of mind is thus stated by MacArthur:
This kind of repentance has nothing to do with turning from sin or abandoning self.It is utterly devoid of any recognition of personal guilt, any intent to obey God, or any desire for true righteousness. 8
MacArthur demonstrates his difference with the Free Grace view when he gives this three-fold significance to repentance: 1) Intellectually it is a recognition of sin; 2) Emotionally it includes an element of sorrow; and 3) Volitionally it is a "change of direction a determinationto abandon stubborn disobedience and surrender the will to Christ" which for MacArthur must result in an observable change of behavior. 9
Finally, some Lordship advocates assert that repentance can be synonymous with faith 10 , an assertion allowed by some in the Free Grace position. 11 Others say that repentance and faith belong together as an "indissoluble pair" and are the constitutional elements of conversion; repentance being the negative aspect of conversion, and faith the positive. 12 Whatever the relation there is general agreement on the Lordship side with Pink who says, "They who leave out repentance, are preaching 'another gospel' (Gal. 1:6)." 13
Lexical evidence is certainly not the main argument of the Lordship position, but must be considered for a balanced understanding of the parameters of repentance.The main Lordship argument is built upon a number of Bible passages, most of which will be examined in some detail after an evaluation of the lexical evidence.
The lexical argument for the Lordship understanding of repentance involves three New Testament words:metanoew, metamelomai, and epistrefw. The primary word, metanoew, is often associated with the other two to define repentance, its usual translation. MacArthur thus explains how he understands repentance:
Repentance is also not simply a mental activity; genuine repentance involves the intellect, emotions, and will.18 "Of the three words that are used in the Greek Gospels to describe the process, one emphasizes the emotional element of regret, sorrow over the past evil course of life, metamelomai; "a second expresses reversal of the entire mental attitude, metanoew, ...the third denotes a change in the direction of life, one goal being substituted for another, epistrefomai.
18Cf. Berkhof, p. 486. 14
This section of the study will examine the relationship of metanoew and its translation "repentance" to metamelomai and epistrefw. It will also discuss the meaning of metanoew in the New Testament.
MacArthur links metamelomai with metanoew which invests the latter with emotional and soteriological significance. The word metamelomai is usually defined as "change one's mind, regret, repent" 15 and expresses emotional sorrow over a past decision or stance. 16 The six uses of metamelomai in the New Testament never refer to the repentance associated with salvation. 17 Laubach states that the term looks back, "Hence, it does not necessarily cause a man to turn to God." 18 Vincent notes that metamelomai has "a meaning quite foreign to repentance in the ordinary gospel sense." 19 Gentry agrees with Vincent and concludes, "It is simply never used in the gospel message." 20 Indeed, 2 Corinthians 7:8-10 shows that sorrow, expressed by metamelomai , is not identical with repentance, expressed by metanoew. In this passage, Paul explains that sorrow can lead to repentance or death.Judas regretted (metamelomai ) his betrayal of Jesus, but did not find salvation (Matt. 27:3). 21
Thus the use of metamelomaito connect soteriological repentance with emotional sorrow for sins has no biblical or lexical foundation.Usually, the connection is assumed without an attempt to explain any biblical or lexical relationship.
The verb epistrefw is used thirty-six times in the New Testament and is generally translated transitively "turn someone or something" and intransitively "turn around, turn back." Some uses convey a definite moral content. 22 It is used to speak of salvation and conversion fourteen times. 23 In the salvation contexts, the emphasis is on the object of faith as that to which one turns.Only three times is it mentioned from what one turned.In these instances it is "vain things" (Acts 14:15), "darkness" and "the power of Satan" (Acts 26:18), and "idols" (1 Thess. 1:9). Rather than some sin which must be forsaken, what seems emphasized as that to which and from which one turns is the object of one's trust. 24 Nevertheless, it cannot be ignored that the word is never translated "repent," 25 therefore any attempt to define metanoew using epistrefw appears motivated by dogmatics.
The English word "repent" is used to translate the Greek word metanoew. Gentry correctly asserts that a discussion of repentance in relation to salvation should focus on the meaning of metanoew. 26 But does this term always speak of a "change of purpose, and specifically a turning from sin" as MacArthur claims? 27
The basic meaning of the Greek word metanoew is "to change the mind." 28 This is the uniform opinion of lexicographers and Lordship proponents alike.Gentry's own analysis states,
Metanoeo comes from the conjoining of meta, "after," with noeo, "to perceive, think" (related to nous, "mind"). Thus, "to perceive afterwards," implying a change of mind. 29
The pre-Christian and extra-biblical field of meaning for metanoew is set forth by Behm:
In pre-biblical and extra-biblical usage metanoew and metanoia are not firmly related to any specific concepts. At the first stage they bear the intellectual sense of "subsequent knowledge." With further development both verb and noun then come to mean "change of mind." ...The change of opinion or decision, the alteration in mood or feeling, which finds expression in the terms, is not in any sense ethical.It may be for the bad as well as for the good... For the Greeks metanoia never suggests an alteration in the total moral attitude, a profound change in life's direction, a conversion which affects the whole conduct... 30
In light of this admission, it is unfortunate that the basic meaning of "to change the mind" is eclipsed by the Lordship insistence on something more from the word itself in the New Testament. 31 MacArthur argues for the basic meaning of "change of mind" then says, "but biblically its meaning does not stop there." 32 Likewise, Mueller echoes, "Repentance is far more than a "change of mind" about who Christ is." 33
A justification for this conclusion is set forth by both Behm and Goetzmann.Behm argues that metanoew in the LXX "approximates" the Hebrew word shWb, "to turn." 34 But this logic is easily refuted by Wilkin who notes,
The term shWb was used 1,056 times in the Hebrew text. None of those occurrences is translated by metanoew in the Greek OT. Not one. This is inexplicable if the translators of the LXX felt that metanoew was a good translation of shWb.Rather, the translators routinely used strefw and its various compound forms to translate shWb. 35
Goetzmann claims the New Testament also uses metanoew to express the force of shWb, 36 but again, epistrefw , not metanoew, is the choice of the New Testament writers to convey the meaning "turn around."
Thus it is concluded that the word metanoew denotes basically a change of mind. The definition that takes it as a turning from sins is suspected of being theologically derived.Of course, sin can be that about which the mind changes depending on the biblical context.It is recognized that nous or "mind," as used by the authors of Scripture, can denote more than intellect. It can refer to the "total inner or moral attitude", 37 the "inner man," 38 or the "sum total of the whole mental and moral state of being". 39 Thus, while the basic meaning is "to change the mind," there is sometimes implication of emotional and volitional elements, but never is a change in behavior necessary to the word itself. 40
It is unfortunate that metanoew is translated "repent" in the English Bible, for the English etymology denotes more the idea of penitence as sorrow, or worse, the Catholic doctrine of penance, than it does the more accurate "change of mind." 41 All that is certain is that the word itself merits no strict definition in terms of action, sin, or sorrowful emotion, though these things are often closely related and sometimes implied.The context must decide the meaning of metanoew in the New Testament. Key passages using metanoew will now be examined in their contexts.
The Lordship case for making repentance always related to sin, a resolve to turn from sin, and a turning from sins for salvation is argued from a number of Bible passages.The major passages will be examined first where repentance is used in relation to the offer of salvation, then in relation to sins, its production of fruits, and its characterization as a gift from God. Finally, the idea of repentance will be examined in some salvation narratives.Passages which do not have the idea of soteriological repentance may only be noted in brief.
From a number of passages concerning the offer of salvation Lordship proponents adduce that repentance was presented as the resolve to forsake sins, or the actual turning from sins.The approach taken here is to consider all of the passages that relate repentance to the offer of salvation in the preaching of John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostles, and see whether Lordship claims are justified.
John came preaching "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" (Matt. 3:2).It is said that he preached a "baptism of repentance" (Mark 1:4/Luke 3:3; Acts 13:24; cf. Matt. 3:11).Does his preaching require of people that they resolve to forsake sins or actually turn from sins in order to be saved? 42
Paul's commentary in Acts 19:4 on John's "baptism of repentance" is important in understanding John's use of repentance. If by "repent" John meant a change of mind, a new attitude and disposition, 43 it is easy to understand the meaning of Acts 19:4. Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Jesus Christ." The Ephesian disciples had not believed on Jesus Christ and therefore had not received the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-3). Having been baptized by John, they were obviously Jewish believers.However, the new revelation of the gospel of grace demanded that they come to faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, Paul considers John's baptism as preparatory to faith in Christ.
Another important commentary on John's use of repentance in the offer of salvation is found in Acts 13:24 which not only infers that John's preaching was preparatory to Christ, but states that its audience was specifically "all the people of Israel." Repentance for Israel had distinct significance under the Mosaic covenant in that it was the means by which the sinning nation repaired their covenant with God and returned to His blessing (Deut. 30:2, 10; 2 Chr. 7:14). 44 Only in such a state of blessing could the nation as a whole accept Jesus as their Messiah.
Repentance in John's preaching was designed to prepare the nation of Israel for faith in Jesus Christ, their Messiah.It called for a change of attitude (about their present condition and/or the coming Messiah) from which covenant obedience should naturally flow and the acceptance of faith should follow.Repentance for the Jews in the context of John's preaching cannot be divested of covenantal implications. Therefore, it is ill-advised to give similar emphasis to John's preaching of repentance to Israel during the transition period between law and grace to the offer of salvation for all people after this period. 45
The preaching of Jesus recounted in the Gospels normally uses repentance in reference to eternal salvation. There is sometimes a recognizable emphasis on repentance in relation to sin(s). However, it must be seen whether Jesus demanded a reformation of life.
Matthew 11:20-21/Luke 10:13
As with John, Jesus' preaching was at times directed toward the nation of Israel in the context of covenantal obligations (Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:15). This is most obvious in His upbraiding of the impenitent Jewish cities (Matt. 11:20-24/Luke 10:13-16). These were the cities to which the twelve apostles were sent when Jesus said "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt. 10:5-6).Their refusal to repent (Matt. 11:20-21/Luke 10:13; cf. Mark 6:12) was a refusal to change from their sinful attitude of self-righteousness and rejection of God's righteousness in Christ. 46 Jesus' words in Mark 1:15, "Repent, and believe in the gospel," may give the clearest sense as to why Jesus preached repentance.It expressed in covenantal terms the way in which the Jews could restore their relationship with God through the Messiah.The command "Repent" reminded of covenant obligations that had been neglected; the command "believe in the gospel" looked forward to the work of Jesus the Messiah and the faith that would appropriate that work for salvation.
The account of Matthew's conversion is sometimes told so as to emphasize Christ's call to repentance in terms of turning from sins to follow Christ. In the account, Jesus' only words to Matthew are "Follow Me" (Matt. 9:9).However, to emphasize repentance from sins MacArthur embellishes the scriptural record with the statement, "Matthew was unequivocally the vilest, most wretched sinner in Capernaum." 47
It is more accurate to say that the emphasis of the text lies not on sins in general, but on attitudes, i.e., the contrast between Matthew's sense of unrighteousness and the self-righteous pride of the Pharisees. 48 The Lord's saying, "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance" (Matt. 9:13; Luke 5:32) 49 focuses on self-perceptions as attitudes that separate those who would obey Christ's call from those who would not.Those who come to repentance have changed their thinking about their own lack of righteousness and have come to acknowledge their sinfulness and need of "healing" (Matt. 9:12; Luke 5:31).Thus only sinners, or those who realize their need of righteousness, are ready to change their minds about Christ's offer of forgiveness.Repentance, then, is spoken of in terms of one's thinking about himself and the need for Christ's salvation.
When answering the Pharisees' request for a sign, Jesus rebukes their unbelief and contrasts them with the Ninevites of Jonah's day who "repented at the preaching of Jonah." The condemnation of the contemporary generation's unbelief in contrast to the repentance of the Ninevites shows that Jesus' use of repentance was applied to Gentiles also. The Ninevites changed their minds and hearts when they heard Jonah.The change of mind, however, did not focus on sin and their resolve to forsake it, 50 but on God and his message of judgment. 51 Jonah 3:5 is explicit: "So the people of Nineveh believed God." Jesus is contrasting His generation's unbelief with the Ninevites' belief which was displayed in acts of mourning resulting from repentance.
Jesus tells an "innumerable multitude" (12:1) that just as the Galileans were killed by Pilate (13:1-2) and the eighteen were killed by the tower in Siloam (13:4), "unless you repent you will all likewise perish." 52 The point of teaching is that those who died were not more sinful than anyone else (13:2, 4). Judgment awaits all who do not repent. The message had special significance to the sinful nation of Israel, as illustrated in the following parable of the fruitless fig tree (13:6-9).Unless there is evidence of repentance ("fruit") during the time of opportunity (13:8) the nation would be judged. 53 Exactly what they must change their minds about is not immediately clear in the context, but it is obviously related to their attitudes which rejected Christ thus far. There is no explicit reason to conclude that He was telling them to "resolve to turn from sins" or "turn from sins." 54 A change of attitude, mind, or disposition which would cause them to forsake their unbelief and make them amenable to trusting in Jesus as Messiah and Savior is as much as one can conclude from the passage.
Jesus also highlights repentance in the three parables of Luke 15. The central point is stated in the parable of the lost sheep and the parable of the lost coin:God and heaven rejoice "over one sinner who repents" (15:7, 10). This thesis is then poignantly illustrated in the parable of the lost son (15:11-32).The parables were given in response to the self-righteous Pharisees, who did not see themselves as sinners, to teach that repentance from such an attitude brings the Father's joyful acceptance.
The lack of any emphasis on turning from specific sins must be noted. The parables of the lost sheep and lost coin do not mention turning away from sins at all.In the parable of the lost son, repentance can be identified with the son's change of mind in the far country when he "came to himself" and decided to trust in his father's mercy. 55 His return (v. 20) was a logical implication of his decision. 56
Furthermore, there is no reason to consign this teaching to the soteriological realm only, for this is not explicit in the passage. The audience is both "sinners" (15:1), who represent the unsaved, and "the Pharisees and Scribes" (15:2), who represent the covenant nation Israel in their deluded self-righteousness. Jesus was simply teaching that when anyone changes his mind about his own unrighteousness and trusts in God's mercy, he will be joyfully accepted by God.The moral of these stories is stated broadly enough to apply to a repentant unbeliever or a repentant believer. 57
Another mention of repentance that could be construed as salvific is in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.Here the rich man in Hades begs Abraham to send Lazarus to his five brothers so they will escape a similar fate.When Abraham refuses, the rich man argues, "if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent" (16:30).Abraham's answer shows that the idea of repentance here is chiefly that of holding a particular attitude, for he says that the brothers will not be "persuaded" (i.e., believe in Jesus, about whom Moses and the prophets wrote) even by one risen from the dead (v. 31). Repentance, then, is a persuasion of the soul, a change of the mind and heart akin to faith.It may refer here to both a change of mind about their unbelief as well as a change of mind about Christ.There is no mention of turning from all sins.
A final mention of repentance by the Lord comes after His resurrection when He commissioned the disciples with the words, "repentance and remission of sins should be preached to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47).It is clear that Jesus intended the message of repentance to go beyond the Jews to the Gentiles, but it is not stated explicitly what is to be the focus of their repentance. It can be safely said that He wanted all people everywhere to come to a change of mind, attitude, and disposition towards themselves and His gospel message, especially in view of His death and resurrection. 58 This seems a general way of expressing His desire that all men be restored to God's favor. The change of attitude would include the more specific faith in Christ.
Peter and Paul preached or mentioned repentance in their offers of salvation.The book of Acts is the record of how they did so in fulfillment of Luke 24:47.
Peter's pentecostal sermon is the first example of the apostolic preaching of repentance.In 2:38 he responds to the crowd's question of "What shall we do?" (v. 37) with the words, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." The text describes the emotional state of the people:they were "cut to the heart" (katen?ghsan). This word connotes a "sharp pain connected with anxiety, remorse. 59 If this describes their feelings, then Peter's admonition to repent must certainly address another kind of response besides emotional grief lest it be superfluous. The people were driven by their feelings of remorse to seek an avenue of change, thus Peter says "Repent."
There are several clues in the context about the focus of their repentance.Peter addresses the specific sin of their (the Israelites') crucifixion of the Lord Jesus (v. 36). Verse 37 begins, "Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart." Their source of remorse was the mistake of crucifying the Messiah.Now they must repent, or change their minds about who He is and change their disposition toward Him. 60 Talbert comments,
The condemnation of Christ had been done in ignorance (Acts 3:17; 13:27), but in raising Jesus God showed the Jews they had made a mistake: they had crucified the Christ (Acts 2:36). Now, however, the Jews are given a chance to change their minds, to repent (2:38; 3:19; 5:31). 61
When they so change their minds, they will see Christ as their Messiah and Savior and receive forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The exhortation to be baptized is an exhortation to display the fruits of invisible repentance in a visible act that would separate them from the nation under judgment and identify them with the new community of believers. 62 They had already come to regret their sin, now Peter urges them on to a change of mind about Christ. Of course, repentance to the exclusively Jewish addressees (cf. vv. 14, 22, 36) had special significance in that they had to change their attitude about their own righteousness in contrast to God's provided in the Messiah. 63
The progression in Acts 2:37-38 is expressed by 2 Corinthians 7:10: "For godly sorrow produces repentance to salvation."From their sorrow the Jews are led to the point of repentance, and being repentant they believe in Christ (v. 44). Repentance, though motivated by their remorse over the sin of crucifying Christ, focuses more on their thinking about Christ than on their sin.
Another occasion of Peter preaching repentance is in his sermon on Solomon's portico (3:11-26).The audience and issues appear similar to that of the pentecostal sermon. The Jews must come to see their error in crucifying the Messiah (3:14-15) and change their minds about Him (17-19).
Bruce says, "All that they had to do to avail themselves of this salvation was to change their former attitude to Jesus and bring it into line with God's attitude." 64 The internal and mental aspect of repentance is emphasized by Peter's mention of their "ignorance" (v. 17).There is no indication of necessary external actions such as the forsaking of sins.In fact, Peter's second command, "be converted" (v. 19, from epistrefw ), distinguishes the logical outward result of the inner attitude."It denotes the action which results in the change of mind indicated by repentance." 65
The preaching of repentance to Simon the Sorcerer has an altogether different context.Here Peter addresses an individual about a specific sin: that of presuming to buy the power of the apostolic office (v. 19). Furthermore, the issue is not salvation, but deliverance from temporal judgment, 66 for it is clearly stated that Simon had believed (v. 13) and there is no reason to take this as less than salvific. 67 This shows that repentance can be demanded of believers as well as unbelievers.
Another passage cited by Lordship proponents is Acts 14:15, where Paul tells those in Lystra that "We preach to you that you should turn from these vain things to the living God." Usually correlated with this is 1 Thessalonians 1:9 where Paul reminds the Thessalonians, "you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God." 68 The argument that this defines repentance is weakened by the simple observation that no form of the word repentance is used in either passage.The verb "turn/turned" is epistrefw which is never translated "repent" in the English New Testament. Had this been what Paul wanted to say, he could have used metanoew. But in these passages, Paul is focusing on the desired (Acts 14:15) and actual (1 Thess. 1:9) result and the outer manifestation of the implied inner repentance and faith 69 of his subjects.Thus the turning is related to, but distinct from, what caused it.
The next incidence of preaching repentance in relation to salvation occurs in Paul's sermon at the Areopagus in Athens (17:22-31). His words explicitly extend to all men: "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent" (v. 30). The tenor of Paul's message shows that he tailored it to those in basic "ignorance" of the gospel message. 70 As Gentiles, they were excluded from the mold of Jewish theology.Yet repentance is required of all such men in ignorance because they must come to the point of recognizing the true God as opposed to their errors of idolatry. Ironside comments,
...these supercilious scoffers of the Areopagus were not ready for the message of pure grace.They needed to realize their true state before God.To them the call came, "Change your minds!Your whole attitude is wrong.Repent and heed the voice of God. 71
In this passage, the juxtaposition of "repent" with "we ought not to think" (v. 29) and "ignorance" (v. 30) denotes the internal nature of repentance rather than the Lordship characterization of turning from sins.It is here a change in conviction and attitude about worshiping false gods to worshiping the true God. 72 Such an attitude is necessary for faith in Christ to follow.
The above understanding of repentance is exemplified in Paul's description of his ministry to the Ephesian elders (20:17-35). He characterized his past ministry as that of "testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (v. 21). This affords an important insight into the significance of repentance in relation to salvation. Paul mentions two aspects of obtaining salvation, the more general "repentance toward God" and the more specific "faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."Jesus Christ is God's specific way by which people can come into a right relationship with God. The second phrase thus adds specific content to the first and shows there is sometimes a close relationship in the ideas of repentance and faith in relation to salvation. 73 Also noteworthy is that repentance is towards God, not away from sins.
In conclusion to this section, these passages which speak of repentance in relation to the offer of salvation show that repentance is an inner change of mind and heart.That about which one repents varies from sin, to God, to one's opinion about Jesus Christ. Sometimes the biblical text shows that the result of repentance is faith in Christ; at other times the result is turning from sins. But these results are not properly in the realm of the term itself, though they are often implied.
In a number of other passages, it is obvious that specific acts of sin are closely tied to repentance.There is nothing, however, to suggest that repentance itself demands more than a change of attitude about the acts, though this leads to a change in conduct. It should also be noted that these verses, for the most part, do not refer to soteriological repentance and are therefore of little help to this study.
In 2 Corinthians 12:21 Paul fears the Christian readers 74 "have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and licentiousness which they have practiced." Their attitude had not changed as evidenced by their continuation in these sins.This passage does not speak of repentance in reference to salvation.
This verse speaks of Christians 75 who need to progress in their Christian growth "not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God." Dead works probably refers to those works by which one tries to earn salvation and result in death, not sins per se. In order to be saved they had had to change their attitudes about the efficacy of their works and believe the gospel. 76 Now the author wants them to go on to matters beyond the basics related to their salvation.
The letters to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3 are addressed primarily to Christians, though unbelievers may have been present. Nevertheless, the force of John's commands to repent are intended for the Christians who needed to change their thinking about tolerating false teaching and evil deeds in their midst (2:5, 16, 21, 22; 3:3, 19). He is not instructing them in salvation. 77
These passages speak of repentance in relation to those who are unsaved and are experiencing the judgments of the Tribulation period. As in Revelation 2 and 3, the judgments here are the temporal trumpet and bowl judgments of the Tribulation. The implication of the context is that if these people would repent, the judgments would cease, though their eternal destruction seems already sealed by the mark of the beast (14:16-18).
That from which these unbelievers repent in 9:20-21 is "the works of their hands" (referring to idols), and "murders," "sorceries," "sexual immorality," and "thefts." Though 16:9 does not mention anything specific about which the people should repent, 16:11 states they "did not repent of their deeds."These passages show that repentance can focus on specific acts of sin as that which discloses the heart and mind. The accounts emphasize the hardness of these unbelievers' hearts in that they never changed their stubborn minds about their sins, as exhibited by their persistence in evil deeds.However, the statement about their refusal to repent from evil deeds does not imply an offer of eternal salvation, but serves as an observation that confirms their evil dispositions and proves God's judgment to be justified.
Several passages speak of repentance and the fruits of repentance together.This has led Lordship teachers to equate repentance with the actual work of forsaking sins or changing conduct. Though some say that repentance only leads to these works, others actually define repentance in terms of its outward fruits.
Stott cites Luke 3:8 to argue that repentance must include a change of behavior. 78 These are John the Baptist's harsh words for those coming out to his baptism.Both Matthew and Luke record the words, "Brood of vipers! Who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance."
The question immediately arises as to how "fruits worthy of repentance" can be the same thing as repentance. Lenski observes,
...repentance cannot be meant by "fruits"..."Fruits" indicate an organic connection between themselves and repentance just as the tree brings forth the fruit that is peculiar to its nature...repentance is invisible; hence we judge its presence by the...fruits, which are visible. 79
As Lenski has offered, the visible fruit should not be confused with the invisible root, though there is an undeniable connection. When the people ask "What shall we do?" (3:10, 12, 14a), they are asking for an expansion of the nearest thought: John's exhortation to bear fruits worthy of repentance (3:8). 80 John answers with a three-fold instruction for good deeds (Luke 3:11, 13, 14b).Thus actions are the result and evidence of repentance.
Here, John is evaluating the evidence for inner repentance in those who have come to be baptized.The fact that Matthew records John speaking these words "when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism" (v. 7) suggests that John was able to discern the self-righteous hypocrisy of the Jewish leadership who posed as candidates for baptism. They continued to trust only in their physical descent from Abraham for merit with God (Matt. 3:9/Luke 3:8). They were presuming to flee the coming judgment for their sins, yet they had not truly changed their minds and hearts about their sinfulness. 81 On the basis of external evidence, John rebuked them. "Fruits worthy of repentance" can only speak of the results of the inner attitude of repentance and not define repentance itself.
Likewise, when Paul testified to King Agrippa that he declared to the Jews and Gentiles "that they should repent (metanoein), turn (epistrefein) to God, and do (prassontas) works befitting repentance (metanoias)," it is clear there is a logical and close relationship between repentance and its fruits, but not a necessary one. The accusative plural participle prassontas seems to imply the subject autous for the two infinitives metanoein and epistrefein 82 and indicates contemporaneous action, but not identical action.The participle shows that works should accompany repentance and turning to God in a close relationship, but it cannot equate the doing of works with repentance itself because they are distinguished as "works befitting (axia) repentance".There is a distinction here between the root (repentance) and the fruit (works). 83 Repentance is the underlying change of disposition about one's condition which leads to a turning toward God which should also be accompanied by expected works.
In conclusion, there is no evidence in these passages that repentance must be defined by its works.As Berkhof notes,
"According to Scripture repentance is wholly an inward act, and should not be confounded with the change of life that proceeds from it. Confession of sin and reparation of wrongs are fruits of repentance. 84
Fruits consistent with a repentant attitude are normally expected, but no text of Scripture has shown that fruits are inherent to or essentially required in the definition of the word itself. On the contrary, the passages examined thus far distinguish outward works from inner repentance."Just as the gifts brought to mother do not constitute love itself but a demonstration of it, so the good works are the demonstration of repentance ." 85
From four passages (Acts 5:31; 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:25; sometimes Rom. 2:4) it is argued that repentance is a gift of God with the implication that its works are God-produced and therefore a necessary evidence for salvation. Citing these passages, Gentry states, "Repentance, or the enablement to repent, is a gift of God." 86 Likewise MacArthur argues,
Nor is repentance merely a human work. It is, like every element of redemption, a sovereignly bestowed gift of God...If God is the One who grants repentance, it cannot be viewed as a human work. 87
Thus MacArthur can argue that one is saved by works, but not one's own, for the works one produces are divine works:"As part of His saving works, God will produce repentance, faith, sanctification, yieldedness, obedience, and ultimately glorification." 88
In the first passage, Peter tells the Jewish leaders that God exalted Jesus Christ "to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins." The fact that only a small part of the nation of Israel repented shows that what is probably meant is that God gave Israel an opportunity to repent. 89
Much the same thought appears in Acts 11:18, except the Gentiles are in view.After Peter defended his vision and the conversion of Cornelius, the apostles in Jerusalem conclude, "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life." 90 The granting of repentance seems to refer to the opportunity to repent as in 5:31. This is certainly arguable from the context of the gospel going to the Gentiles for the first time.
These instructions of Paul to Timothy include the advice to correct those who are in opposition, "if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth." Though these troublesome people are most likely believers, 91 appears that God must give them repentance. 92 Pentecost suggests how this can be understood:
As the servant of God teaches the Word of God, the truth of the Word of God will be brought home by the Spirit to the mind of the hearer, and the hearer will change his mind because of the truth that has been presented. This change of mind, in respect to a revealed truth from the Word of God, is called in II Timothy 2:25 "repentance." 93
Repentance can thus be viewed as a gift of God because it is produced by the Spirit of God through the Word of God.This verse would be an example of metonymy of effect for cause: The Holy Spirit (cause) promotes repentance (effect) through the Word (means).
If repentance originates as a gift of God or is considered a divine work that affects change, then it is not wholly a response of man. This raises problems: 94 Why does God command men to repent if He Himself is responsible for bestowing it? Would it not be more appropriate to invite people to receive God's repentance? Why are people told to "bear fruits worthy of repentance" (Matt. 3:8; Luke 3:8; Acts 26:20) if God-given repentance guarantees them?Do not the biblical exhortations to forsake sin and do good works become superfluous?
There are a number of ways in which Scripture may consider repentance a gift.Most importantly, it must be noted that if repentance is a divine gift in the passages examined above, nothing is said of forsaking all sins. As already suggested in Acts 5:31 and 11:18, it is probable that the opportunity for repentance is in the idea of gift.In 2 Timothy 2:25, the divine gift that produces change is the Holy Spirit using the Word of God. 95 Another sense in which repentance may be considered a gift is that God works in such an overwhelming way to convince people of His goodness and bring them to the point of changing their minds and hearts, that this whole action, including the result of repentance, is simply described as a gift.This seems to be the idea of Romans 2:4, " the goodness of God leads you to repentance."
Sometimes Lordship advocates argue from gospel accounts of salvation that repentance is emphasized in the conversion of the subject involved. There is no argument that many of their examples truly illustrate repentance, but it is highly questionable whether the stories emphasize repentance in the explicit manner claimed for them, much less as the forsaking of sins.In fact, militating against such an emphasis is the fact that the terms "repent" and "repentance" are not found in the accounts. Still, a few examples will be examined and the argument answered. Though the account of the rich young ruler could be used as an example here, discussion of it will be reserved for chapter four.
In an effort to counter the Free Grace argument that faith, not repentance, is the emphasis of the New Testament and especially the Gospel of John, MacArthur has interpreted the account of Nicodemus in John 3 to create an emphasis on repentance.He states that "Jesus was demanding that Nicodemus forsake everything he stood for, and Nicodemus knew it." 96 Of Jesus' use of Numbers 21, MacArthur says,
Jesus was not painting a picture of easy faith. He was showing Nicodemus the necessity of repentance."
...In order to look at the bronze snake on the pole, they had to drag themselves to where they could see it.They were in no position to glance flippantly at the pole and then proceed with lives of rebellion. 97
It is difficult to see how anyone could find this emphasis without one word from the Lord here about repenting.
An analysis of the account shows an emphasis on faith both by mention of it explicitly, and by illustration of it from Numbers 21. 98 As throughout John, "believe" is the key word for salvation (3:15-16, 18).Jesus makes no demands of Nicodemus, and certainly points to nothing specific of which he should repent.Faith in Jesus Christ as the Messiah would, for Nicodemus, entail a change of mind about his present condition and a change of disposition toward Christ, but that is assumed in the invitation to believe. For Nicodemus, the chief issue is not sin, but an accurate understanding about the person and work of Jesus Christ.
MacArthur takes a similar liberty of emphasizing repentance with the account of the conversion of the Samaritan woman in John 4. While admitting that "We are told only the barest essentials of the Lord's conversation with the woman" and warning that "this passage in and of itself is not an appropriate foundation upon which to base an understanding of what constitutes the gospel," 99 he nevertheless comes to some significant conclusions about repentance and sin here. He says, "To call her to Himself, Jesus had to force her to face her indifference, lust, self-centeredness, immorality, and religious prejudice." 100 He continues with statements such as, "It is inconceivable that Jesus would pour someone a drink of living water without challenging and altering that individual's sinful lifestyle," 101 and, "Those who confess and forsake their sin will find a Savior anxious to receive them, forgive them, and liberate them from their sin." 102 Similarly, Chantry states, "Jesus' Gospel insisted that she turn from her adultery." 103
All of these arguments, designed to prove an emphasis on repentance as forsaking of sin, are answered by the Lord's own words to the woman, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water" (4:10). Jesus simply made no demands of the woman.His mention of her husbands (vv. 16-18) was not to demand that she reform her life, but served to point the woman to her spiritual need of living water (when she was incorrectly fixated on her physical needs, v. 15) and to convince her, and the Samaritans later, that Jesus was the messianic Prophet (vv. 19, 25, 29, 39). 104 This recognition led them to "believe" (vv. 41-42).There is no mention of repentance or of forsaking sins, so it should not be made an emphasis.
In this account of the woman labeled "a sinner" (v. 37) who washed and anointed Jesus feet with her tears, hair, and fragrant oil, some insist there is an emphasis on repentance. Truly, repentance is present in the passage, but does it merit the central focus given by Gentry when he says, "Her weeping was not necessary for salvation, but the repentance it exemplified was"? 105
Jesus' own words suffice to emphasize what brought the woman's salvation.He tells the objecting Pharisee that "her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much" (v. 47). Her love was an expression of her faith, for next Jesus turns to the woman and says, "Your faith has saved you" (v. 50). Repentance, never mentioned by the Lord, is not the emphasis, but faith.Her faith which embraced Christ as Savior included a changed attitude about her condition and resulting sorrow, and in this way repentance is present, but not emphasized.
This story is also used to point out the nature of repentance. 106 Whereas the Pharisee is presented as proud and self-righteous (vv. 9, 11-12, 14), the tax collector has a humble attitude and a keen awareness of his sinfulness (13).Though the words metanoia and metanoew are not used, this is an accurate picture of repentance for it focuses on the different attitudes of the two men.Concerning the Pharisee, Schnackenburg comments, "the attitude of mind that most frequently militates against repentance is self-righteousness and presumption." 107 In contrast, the repentant tax collector is justified. 108 Wilkin notes that the preceding and subsequent contexts concern faith (18:8 and 15-17), and this links the implied repentance in verses 9-14 with the same motif of faith. He observes, "Saving repentance according to Luke's understanding of Jesus thus culminates in saving faith." 109 Though repentance is illustrated, the larger context emphasizes faith.
The crucial focus of this story is the declaration by Jesus about Zacchaeus that "Today salvation has come to this house" (v. 9). There are some who make Zacchaeus' salvation contingent upon his repentance which included making restitution. Using Zacchaeus' example, Stott argues, "Sometimes, true repentance will have to include restitution" and Jones agrees, "there is no repentance unless there is restitution for sin" (emphasis his). 110
The text, however, indicates that Zacchaeus' reception of Jesus Christ into his home (vv. 6-7) was also a spiritual reception of Jesus and His message. 111 The joyful response of Zacchaeus to Jesus' words (v. 7) indicates an attitude of repentance and faith. Then his acts of restitution demonstrate repentance with what John the Baptist called "fruits worthy of repentance" (Matt. 3:8/Luke 3:8). 112 The fruits are not repentance, but the outward manifestation of it. 113
The passages studied thus far show that repentance is basically a change of mind, heart, and disposition.When it is preached in the offer of salvation, change in conduct is not demanded, but a change in thinking about one's need of God's righteousness and God's provision in Jesus Christ. Also, though sins are sometimes the focus of repentance, such a meaning is not demanded by every usage. The focus of repentance must be determined from the context, if possible.
It is now necessary to declare in brief fashion an understanding of repentance which reflects the sum of observations from the biblical evidence considered above.This section is designed to present a biblical view of repentance and also present the arguments which must be answered by the Lordship Salvation view.
From the etymology as well as biblical evidence, it is seems that repentance of any kind refers to an inner attitude.Most basically, it is a "change of mind," but as has been seen, "mind" denotes the heart and soul of man along with the intellect and will. It is a careless error to make the outward fruit of repentance the same as inner repentance itself.The fruit must be distinguished from the root, the cause from the effect.
At times repentance will be accompanied by sorrow and great emotion, but this is not essential to saving repentance.It has been shown that there can be sorrowful repentance that comes short of salvation (2 Cor. 7:10).Another argument not yet mentioned is that in the Old Testament God repents.Cocoris explains the implication:
In the King James Version, the word repent occurs forty-six times in the Old Testament. Thirty-seven of these times, God is the one repenting (or not repenting).If repentance meant sorrow for sin, God would be a sinner (emphasis his). 114
Neither should one's conduct be made a necessary element of repentance.It is agreed that true repentance should and probably will result in a visible change of conduct because it is the new inner disposition of a person and indicates a new desire and bearing.However, to make outward transformation essential to the meaning of repentance itself is to confuse the two beyond biblical validity.Chamberlain has stated it well:
The objection to laying the stress on "change of conduct" or "reformation" is that we tend to lead the minds of people away from the fact that metanoew deals primarily with the "springs of action," rather than with the actions themselves. Metanoew deals with the source of our motives, not with conduct, or even with the motives themselves. 115
To make outer conduct essential to the meaning of repentance also leads logically to the conclusion that one is indeed saved by works, the works of true repentance. 116 Furthermore, one can easily become quagmired in subjectivity while trying to determine if his repentance is sufficient for salvation.Fruit is often subtle and invisible to observers, including the subject.
A clear biblical support that outward change is not the basic idea of repentance comes from Luke 17:3-4. Here Jesus teaches that one should forgive an offender "if he repents" (v. 3). Furthermore, Jesus says that "if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him" (v. 4).It would be artificial to demand of the passage that the offender's behavior change even seven times in one day. 117 Besides, the Lord conditions forgiveness on the offender's verbal confession of repentance, not a scrutiny of his deeds.
The study so far has also inferred that repentance is a voluntary decision.Were this not true, or if God imparted repentance apart from man's response, the commands to repent would be superfluous.
It is sometimes argued that a person cannot respond to God in repentance (and faith, for that matter) because he is spiritually dead. Yet it is clear that a person can repent of sin, and change his mind about other things that do not lead to salvation, without God's enablement.Why can one not change his mind about who Christ is and his need of Him for salvation from sin apart from a divine impartation of power?At issue here is one's understanding of spiritual death.Ironside makes an excellent point in his discussion of repentance:
To say that because a sinner, whether Jew or Gentile, is dead toward God, therefore he cannot repent, is to misunderstand the nature of death. It is a judicial, not an actual, death. The unsaved man is identified with sinning Adam by nature and practice, and so is viewed by God as dead in trespasses and sins. He is spiritually dead, because sin has separated him from God.But actually he is a living, responsible creature to whom God addresses Himself as to a reasoning personality. 118
Spiritual death is a separation from God and His life, not cessation or absence of the principle of life.In His sovereignty, God has given man the ability and thus the responsibility to respond to the command to repent. Were it not so, commands to repent would be meaningless.
The context must determine the exact significance of repentance. Since the contexts of the passages studied have shown different focuses for repentance, it is careless to insist that even salvific repentance always has sin as its focus. 119
Sometimes, a sinful attitude is the focus of the change of mind required.This was seen in the story of the Pharisee who had a self-righteous attitude and the repentant tax collector (Luke 18:9-14). Not sin, per se, but ineffectual works is the focus of repentance in Hebrews 6:1.On the other hand, Acts 2:38 shows that the change of mind involves the proper recognition of Jesus as the Messiah.In addition, Acts 17:30 involved a change of mind about trusting in pagan idols as opposed to the true God. In Acts 20:21, the focus of repentance is God Himself.
Thus repentance does not always mean a change of mind about sin, much less the forsaking of sins.It is a general term given exactness only by the context.
That repentance is preached in some gospel presentations is clear from the passages which have been discussed above.But to charge that "No one who neglects to call sinners to repentance is preaching the gospel according to Jesus" 120 Such a blanket accusation attacks the integrity of the biblical authors, the apostles, and Jesus Himself, all of whom often presented the gospel without mention of repentance.It is recognized that repentance can express the condition for salvation to some degree, but it is clearly not the emphasis of the New Testament gospel.
It cannot be emphasized enough that God has given the church and the world one book explicitly devoted to showing sinners the way of salvation; that is the Gospel of John.This is the determinative Scripture for defining the gospel presentation because it alone claims that its purpose is to bring people to faith in Christ (20:31).Yet not once is any sinner told to "repent." 121 Indeed, the words for repent and its cognates are not so much as found in the book. 122 Should John be thus indicted for teaching a false gospel? Or Jesus Himself, since so much of the book describes His words and witness?
Furthermore, the great theologian of the gospel, Paul, does not make repentance an emphasis of his gospel.His classic and most succinct gospel presentation is found in answer to the question, "What must I do to be saved?" He says nothing of repentance, only, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:30-31).Of all the references to Paul explicitly citing conditions for salvation in Acts, it is through faith in Christ five times (Acts 16:30-31; 17:2-3 cf. v. 12; 18:4-5 cf. v. 8; 22:19; 28:24), faith and repentance four times (13:24 and 13:38-39; 19:4; 20:21; 26:20), and repentance alone only once (17:30).In the Epistles, the numerous references to faith alone 123 compare to only one reference to repentance alone (Rom. 2:4). As to the latter, it is significant that the book of Romans, recognized as a definitive theological treatise on the gospel, mentions repentance but once in relation to eternal salvation. 124 It is obvious that in Paul's argument for the gospel in Romans, the condition emphasized is faith, mentioned over fifty times in reference to salvation.
In his other Epistles, Paul refers to repentance in relation to salvation only once (2 Cor. 7:10). 125 The scarcity of the mention of repentance in Paul's epistles is noticed by Bultmann who comments, "in Paul's own writing the idea of 'repentance' plays only a negligible role." 126 Schnackenburg reasons that Paul, like John, merges repentance with faith. 127 The reason is that Paul emphasized faith as the way of obtaining God's grace.
The greater emphasis of faith in apostolic preaching is no doubt due in some degree to the unique significance of repentance for the Jew. Dunn also comments on Paul's sparse mention of repentance in relation to salvation:
Repentance held a very important place within Jewish teaching on salvation.It was a fundamental tenet for the pious Jew of Paul's time that God had provided a way of dealing with sin for his covenant people through repentance and atonement... "repentance" as a concept was too much bound up with the accepted understanding of God's covenant goodness, so that Paul prefers the more widely embracing concept of "faith"... 128
For the Gentile, faith more clearly signifies the change of mind that trusts in self-righteousness to that which trusts in Christ-righteousness. For the Gentile, there are no covenantal conditions of the Mosaic law (cf. Deut. 28-30) which must be mended by repentance. Thus as the apostolic gospel is spread in Acts and is articulated in the Epistles, the mention of repentance subsides as faith predominates.
From a theological perspective, the emphasis of the gospel is that Jesus Christ has reconciled the world (2 Cor. 5:19) and done away with sin's penalty (Col. 2:13-14).The issue in salvation is not what man must do about his sin, but what Christ has already done about man's sin. The sin that eternally condemns is refusal to believe in God's provision for sin's penalty, which is Christ (John 3:18). Therefore, the emphasis of the gospel is on Christ, as the One who paid for sin, and faith in Him, not repentance from sins.
Even when repentance alone is mentioned as the condition of salvation, this does not exclude faith.In a number of passages, repentance is obviously used as a synonym for faith or salvation through faith.
For example, repentance is evidently a synonym for faith (or salvation through faith) in Luke 5:32 where Jesus declares, "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."The whole tenor of Jesus' ministry was to call men to faith in the gospel, thus He says, "Repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15). Likewise, when the apostles declare in Acts 11:18 that "God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life," it is clear from the context that they refer to the Gentiles' faith in Christ (10:43; 11:17). Also, when Paul called all men to "repent" in his sermon in the Areopagus (Acts 17:30), the summary comment is, "some men believed" (17:34). The idea of repentance is thus included in faith. Hebrew 6:6 represents salvation through faith as well. 129 The convergence of repentance and faith is clearly seen in Peter's declaration in 2 Peter 3:9: "The Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." Men will perish unless they come to faith in Christ, so this must be included in Peter's use of repentance.But men will not come to faith in Christ unless there is a change of attitude about Him and His promises. 130
In relation to faith, repentance appears to be the more general idea of changing the mind.When the focus of repentance is specifically one's unrighteousness before God, the need of salvation, and the sufficiency of Christ to accomplish this salvation, then repentance is more appropriately expressed by the term faith.Acts 20:21 is an example of the general term giving way to the more specific: "repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."Repentance is the larger sphere of a right relation to God.Faith comes within this sphere as that which specifically secures eternal life through Christ. Chafer comments,
It is quite possible to recognize God's purpose, as many do, and not receive Christ as Savior.In other words, repentance toward God could not itself constitute, in this case, the equivalent of "faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ," though it may prepare for that faith." 131
Chafer's understanding seems validated by Paul's phrase "repentance to salvation" (2 Cor 7:10), salvation being that which comes only through faith and yet is also a result of repentance. Faith can thus be seen as a specific kind of repentance in that it is a change of mind and heart which accepts and trusts in God's provision of salvation. Constable writes,
Whenever a person believes in Christ he repents, that is, he changes his mind about who Christ is and what He did... Saving faith involves repentance, but repentance does not necessarily involve saving faith. 132
Thus, in overlapping the meaning of repentance, faith is synonymous with repentance to a certain extent, though when faith is preached, the more general requirement of repentance need not be emphasized.
The Free Grace position holds that repentance is necessary for salvation. 133 In this there is agreement with the Lordship Salvation position.However, the understanding of what repentance means differs significantly. The basic Lordship tenet that repentance always involves sin and that repentance is turning from sins or the resolve to turn from sins is not supported from the lexical and biblical evidence.
The study has concluded that the lexical arguments of the Lordship position failed to show that metanoia encompassed the meanings of metamelomai and epistrefw . In fact, distinct meanings and usages were observed.Neither was it found that metanoew/metanoia has an essential meaning of turning from sins.The unfortunate English translation hardly reflects the basic sense "to change the mind, attitude, disposition."
The passages studied support this definition of repentance. In the offer of salvation by John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostles, repentance can be distinguished from its resulting change of conduct.When specific acts of sins are in view, the command to repent almost always pertains to Christians (with the exception of Revelation 9:20-21 and 16:9, 11) and indicates a change of mind that leads to a change in conduct.The fruits of repentance can and must be distinguished from repentance as an inward attitude. The connection of the inner attitude and outer works can not be supported by the idea that repentance is a divine power given by God. Finally, it was shown why repentance does not deserve the emphasis demanded by Lordship advocates.
The Free Grace view holds that repentance is a change of mind, attitude, and disposition which implies and normally leads to an outward change in life and conduct, though the latter is not essential to the term itself. The focus of repentance must be determined by the context.In regards to salvation, repentance is implied in the call to believe in Christ.Thus it does not find the same emphasis as faith in gospel preaching.
On a final note, the Lordship view of repentance can not offer an absolute assurance of salvation (as with their view of faith) for one can never be absolutely sure all sins have been forsaken.If it is asserted that repentance means resolving to forsake all known sin, then the absurd scenario emerges in which it would be best to keep people ignorant of their sins when preaching the gospel.On the contrary, the Free Grace position believes sinners must be told of their precarious predicament and urged to change their minds in regards to their ability to save themselves, and to believe in the One who can save them, the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 A notable exception is Zane C. Hodges of the Free Grace position who believes repentance is not a condition of salvation, but a condition of a harmonious relationship with God. His view is explained in Absolutely Free!, 143-63. Both Belcher and Erickson characterize the entire Free Grace position by Hodges's view. See Belcher, A Layman's Guide, 18, 53-55; Millard J. Erickson, "Lordship Theology: The Current Controversy," Southwestern Journal of Theology 33 (Spring 1991): 6-7. However, most in the Free Grace position hold that repentance is involved in salvation. See Charles C. Ryrie, Salvation, 91-100; Michael G. Cocoris, Lordship Salvation: Is It Biblical? (Dallas: Redencion Viva, 1983), 11-12; Robert N. Wilkin, "Repentance and Salvation--Part 4: New Testament Repentance: Repentance in the Gospels and Acts," JOTGES 3 (Spring 1990): 11-25; "Part 5: New Testament Repentance: Repentance in the Epistles and Revelation," 3 (Autumn 1990): 19-32; Livingston Blauveldt, Jr,"Does the Bible Teach Lordship Salvation?" BSac 143 (January-March 1986): 42.
2 See the Free grace sources listed in the previous note with the exception of Hodges.
3 Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:60. While some Lordship proponents include sorrow as a necessary element of repentance (see below), Gentry does not.
4 Marc Mueller, "Syllabus," 21.
5 MacArthur, The Gospel, 162.
6 A. W. Pink, The Doctrine of Salvation (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1975), 58. See also Boice, Discipleship, 107-8.
7 Some Lordship people, like Gentry and Pink, seem reluctant to call repentance the actual forsaking of sins. They prefer to speak of the "determination or resolve" to forsake sin. But as will be seen, most hold that a change of conduct is a necessary ingredient of repentance. For example, Pink also argues there are three "phases of repentance": a change of mind, heart, and life, and that "The three must go together for a genuine repentance" (Pink, Salvation, 72). Many adhere to The Westminster Confession of Faith which says of repentance, "By it a sinner…so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God, purposing and endeavoring to walk with him in all the ways of his commandments" (17:2). See also, Stott, Basic Christianity, 112-13; Bruce Jones, "Real Repentance," Moody Monthly (MM) (October 1987): 23.
8 MacArthur, The Gospel, 161.
9 Ibid., 164. MacArthur has stated both that "repentance always involves an element of remorse" (emphasis added, p. 163) and that it "often accompanies an overwhelming sense of sorrow" (emphasis added, p. 164). He also clarifies that behavioral change is not repentance, but the necessary fruit of repentance (p. 164).
10 Marc Mueller, "Syllabus," 20; Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:61; MacArthur says, "repentance is at the core of saving faith" (The Gospel, 32).
11 For example, Chafer, Theology, 3:373-76; Ryrie, Salvation, 99; Wilkin, "Repentance and Salvation, Part 3: New Testament Repentance: Lexical Considerations," JOTGES 2 (Autumn 1989): 18-19.
12 Stott, "Yes," Eternity 10:15; Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:62. Gentry speaks of a "repentant faith" required for salvation.
13 Pink, Salvation, 73. Also, MacArthur, The Gospel, 22.
14 MacArthur, The Gospel, 163-64.
15 Fritz Laubach, "metamelomai," in NIDNTT, 1 (1975): 356.
16 So the NKJV, NASB, and NIV (except in Matt. 21:32) have chosen to reflect this meaning of regret as opposed to the old KJV use of "repent.
17 Matt. 21:29, 32; 27:3; 2 Cor. 7:8 (twice); Heb. 7:21. While the parable of Matthew 21:28-32 has salvation in view, the use of metamelomai in verse 32 speaks of regret over the mistake of not earlier believing John the Baptist, not a regret for sins that secures salvation (Laubach, "metamelomai," NIDNTT, 1:356; O. Michel, "metamelomai," in TDNT, 4 (1967): 628-29).
18 Laubach, "metamelomai," NIDNTT, 1:354.
19 Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, 4 vols. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1965), 1:116.
20 Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:59. For other discussions that support this conclusion, see Robert Nicholas Wilkin, "Repentance as a Condition for Salvation in the New Testament" (Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1985), 232-235, and "Repentance: Lexical Considerations," JOTGES 2:19; Stephen Mitchell Elkins, "Current Issues Concerning Lordship Salvation" (Th.M. thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1984): 71-74.
21 On this Laubach notes, "The example of Judas makes it clear that metamelomai and metanoew do not have identical meanings in the NT" (s.v. "metamelomai," NIDNTT, 1:356).
22 BAGD, s.v. "epistrefw," 301.
23 Matt. 13:15; Mark 4:12; Luke 1:16; Acts 3:19; 9:35; 11:21; 14:15; 15:19; 26:18, 20; 28:27; 2 Cor. 3:16; 1 Thess. 1:9; 1 Pet. 2:25.
24 For example, on 1 Thess. 1:9 and the phrase "you turned to God from idols, Frame says, "In keeping with v. 8, faith in God is singled out as the primary characteristic of the readers, but the idea is expressed… with a phrase perhaps suggested by the contrast with the idols" (James Everett Frame, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, ICC [Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1912, 87). Similarly, Best comments that epistrefw in 1 Thess. 1:9 "is a suitable word to express the change from one faith to another" (Ernest Best, A Commentary on the First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians [New York: Harper & Row, 1972, 82). For other discussions that support this conclusion, see Wilkin, "Repentance as a Condition," 215-31; "Repentance: Lexical Considerations," JOTGES 2:20; Elkins, "Current Issues," 67-70.
25 In spite of this fact, Mueller, remarking on epistrefw, asserts that "Repentance has not taken place where there is no 'turning from,'" (Marc Mueller, "Syllabus," 21-22).
26 Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:59.
27 MacArthur, The Gospel, 162.
28 BAGD, s.v. "metanoew," 513.
29 Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:59.
30 Johannes Behm and E. Würthwein, "metanoew, metanoia" in TDNT, 4 (1967): 979. It is remarkable that Behm follows this analysis with the statement, "One searches the Greek world in vain for the origin of the New Testament understanding of metanoew and metanoia" (4:980). As if the New Testament writers were from another world!
31 Not surprising is the admission by Miller that "The Greek metanoia and the Hebrew shWb are both filled with theological import beyond a change of mind" (Miller, "Christ's Lordship," p. 49). The reader should see again the remarks by Barr, Brown, and Silva on linguistic fallacies which import to words new meaning not justified by context and usage (pp. 16-17).
32 MacArthur, The Gospel, 162. It is interesting how often Lordship teachers agree with the meaning "change of mind," then invest the term with theology that demands much more. For other examples, see Boice, Discipleship, 108; Pink, Salvation, 55. Trench's comment is revealing: "It is only after metanoia has been taken up into the uses of Scripture…that it comes predominantly to mean a change of mind, taking a wiser view of the past, …a regret for the ill done in the past, and out of all this a change of life for the better; …This is all imported into, does not etymologically nor yet by primary usage lie in, the word" (Richard C. Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament [Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979, 242).
33 Marc Mueller, "Syllabus," 21.
34 Behm and Würthwein, s.v. "metanoew, metanoia," TDNT, 4:989-90. In agreement are Ladd, Theology, 38; Geldenhuys, Luke, 143.
35 Wilkin, "Repentance: Lexical Considerations," JOTGES 2:16.
36 Jürgen Goetzmann, s.v. "metanoia," in NIDNTT, 1 (1975): 357.
37 Johannes Behm, "noew," in TDNT, 4 (1967): 958.
38 Günther Harder, "nous," in NIDNTT, 3 (1981): 127.
39 BAGD, s.v. "nous," 544. Cf. Rom. 7:23, 25; Eph. 4:23; Col. 2:18. Thus Moulton and Milligan translate metanoew as "a complete change of attitude, spiritual, and moral, towards God" (The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, by James Hope Moulton and George Milligan, 1930, s.v. "metanoew," 404).
40 In the LXX the verb often translates the Hebrew n`h~m, "to be sorry, to comfort oneself" (A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament [BDB, by Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, 1980, s.v. " n`h~m," pp. 636-37) which shows an emotional element. It is significant, however, that n`h~m occurs 108 times in the Old Testament, but is used only three times of the repentance of men (Job 42:6; Jer. 8:6; 31:19); and none of these refer to salvation from eternal judgment. For further discussion, see Robert N. Wilkin, "Repentance and Salvation, Part 2: The Doctrine of Repentance in the Old Testament," JOTGES 2 (Spring 1989): 26.
41 A. T. Robertson remarked, "It is a linguistic and theological tragedy that we have to go on using 'repentance' for metanoia." (WPNT, 6:241; also see 1:24). For a complete discussion on the inadequacy of the translation "repentance," see Treadwell Walden, The Great Meaning of METANOIA (New York: Thomas Whittaker, 1896), and William Douglas Chamberlain, The Meaning of Repentance (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1954). Chamberlain shows how metanoew has been misunderstood or mistranslated since Tertullian's day (late second century) up to the present time. He shows how Tertullian et al have argued for the meaning "change of mind." See supporting comments by Berkhof, Theology, 480-81; Wilkin, "Repentance: Lexical Considerations," JOTGES 2:16-17; Harry A. Ironside, Except Ye Repent (New York: American Tract Society, 1937), 12-13; William Walden Howard, "Is Faith Enough to Save?--Conclusion," BSac 99 (January-March 1942): 95-96.
42 Most, if not all, connect John's preaching of repentance with the Old Testament preaching of shWb, resulting in the force of "turn away from sin." See J. W. Heikkinen, "Notes on 'Epistrepho' and 'Metanoeo'," Ecumenical Review (ER) 19 (1967): 314; Ladd, Theology, 38-40; and Rudolf Schnackenburg, "Typen der Metanoia-Predigt im Neuen Testament," Munchener theologishe Zeitschrift (MTZ) 1 (1950): 1-2. The two ideas are not exactly equal, as argued above (pp. 65-66). However, shWb may be seen as the outer manifestation or result of inner repentance. It should also be noted that the theological uses of shWb in the Old Testament were expressed in the context of the covenant community and their return to God and were thus non-soteriological. See Victor P. Hamilton, s.v. "shWb," in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2 vols., eds. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, and Bruce K. Waltke (Chicago: Moody Press, 1981), 2:909-10.
43 See Charles L'Eplattenier, Lecture de L'Evangile de Luc (Paris: Desclée, 1982), 48 on Luke 3:3 and the use of metanoew in Luke.
44 It should be noted that each of these Old Testament verses contains the idea of repentance as an inner attitude ("heart and soul," "humble themselves") which leads to the normally expected overt obedience.
45 A discussion on the proper emphasis of repentance in the offer of the gospel appears later in this chapter. John's use of repentance in Matt. 3:8/Luke 3:8 is also discussed later in the chapter.
46 So Stanley D. Toussaint, Behold the King: A Study of Matthew (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1980), 157; A. C. Gaebelein, The Gospel of Matthew, 2 vols., (New York: Publication Office, Our Hope, 1910), 1: 232; Alfred Plummer, An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to S. Matthew (London: Robert Scott, Paternoster Row, 1909), 165.
47 MacArthur, The Gospel, 62. Though Kent agrees with MacArthur's point about repentance in the passage, he states, "MacArthur indulges in a bit of extravagant language to paint his word picture of the event, perhaps revealing his rhetorical skills more than dependance on the text. . .[This reviewer considers those descriptions somewhat stronger than the Biblical [sic passage itself requires. This writer certainly agrees with Kent's criticism, but believes he is too accommodating especially when his next sentence reads, "Of course, this has no real bearing on the issue being discussed." It has every bearing on the issue, because the issue is whether repentance as a turning from sins is being unduly emphasized in the text. See Homer A. Kent, "Review Article: The Gospel According to Jesus," Grace Theological Journal (GTJ) 10 (1989): 70-71.
48 Such is the emphasis addressed by Lenski, Interpretation of Matthew's Gospel (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1964), 365-67, and Willoughby C. Allen, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to S. Matthew, ICC (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1965), 90.
49 It seems arbitrary that MacArthur would call this statement "a full perspective on Jesus' ministry, a summary of the message of Christianity, a close-up of the nucleus of the gospel" (MacArthur, The Gospel, 60-61) when he earlier warned against such a dogmatic conclusion from the gospel presentation in John 4 (ibid., 49-50).
50 Contra Gentry (Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:61).
51 So Geldenhuys, Luke, 335; Caird, The Gospel of St. Luke (New York: The Seabury Press, 1963), 156. Also, the parallelism of metanoew (v. 41) with akouw (v. 42) shows that "As the city of Nineveh repented at Jonah's preaching, so the Queen of the South listened to Solomon's wisdom. Repentance is thus likened to listening to and accepting a message from God's spokesman" (Wilkin, "Repentance as a Condition," 110).
52 It does not change the meaning of "repent" if "perish" in verses 3 and 5 refers to the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (as Frederic Louis Godet, A Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke, 2 vols. [Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1952, 2:117-18), or to eternal damnation (as Geldenhuys, Luke, 370-71). Jesus' other uses of repent and repentance (with the exception of Luke 17:3-4) support the latter interpretation.
53 So Liefeld, "Luke," EBC, 8:970; Geldenhuys, Luke, 372; David L. Tiede, Luke, Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament (ACNT) (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1988), 248; Charles R. Erdman, The Gospel of Luke (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1966), 149.
54 So Enlow, "Eternal Life," AW, 4.
55 So Geldenhuys, Luke, 407-08; Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to S. Luke, ICC (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1896), 371, 375. Jeremias comments on the parable, "Repentance means… putting one's whole trust in the heavenly Father…Repentance is simply trusting the grace of God" (Jeremias, New Testament Theology: The Proclamation of Jesus, transl. John Bowden [New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971, 156). Jones gets the order wrong when he says, "the son eventually came to his senses, went back to his father, and repented" (Jones, "Real Repentance," MM, 23).
56 Contra Stott and Pink who makes the son's return a necessary part of his repentance (Stott, "Yes," Eternity 10:17; Pink, Salvation, 51). See also Belcher, Layman's Guide, 61.
57 Chafer, for example, believes these parables refer to the restoration of repentant believers (Theology, 6:244-50). Though argued convincingly, it does not seem the Lord's teaching can be made so exclusive one way or the other.
58 In agreement are Geldenhuys, Luke, 641; Lenski, Luke, 1206; and Talbert, Reading Luke: A literary and Theological Commentary on the Third Gospel (New York: Crossroad, 1982), 231.
59 BAGD, s.v. "katann?ssomai," 416.
60 Gentry claims the Jews had already changed their minds about Christ (v. 37), and now must "determine to forsake their sin and flee to Christ" (Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:60). But it was obviously their sin that struck them with grief in verse 37. All that was left to them was the way to find forgiveness in a different attitude toward Christ.
61 Talbert, Reading Luke, 231. Likewise, Ironside says, "The call to repentance was as though he had said, `Change your attitude!' The nation has rejected Jesus. You must receive Him'" (Repent, 48). In agreement are F. F. Bruce, Commentary on the Book of the Acts, NICNT (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1954), 90; Schnackenburg, "Typen der Metanoia-Predigt," MTZ 1:6; R. Michiels, "La Conception Lucanienne de la Conversion," Ephremerides theologicae lovanienses (ETL) 41 (1965): 44-46; Jacques Dupont, "Repentir et Conversion d'aprPs les Actes des Ap^tres," Sciences EcclJsiastiques (ScEccl) 12 (1960): 166; J. Dwight Pentecost, Things Which Become Sound Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1965), 67-68; Ryrie, Salvation, 96; Wendall Johnston, "The Soteriology of the Book of Acts" (Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1961), 24, 124.
62 Pentecost, Sound Doctrine, 67-68. Baptism itself is not a condition for the remission of sins. Metanohsate and lhyesqe are plural while baptisqhtw is set off from the rest of the sentence as a singular. A comparison to 10:43 shows that baptism is not necessary for the remission of sins. There is perhaps an emphasis on individual responsibility (cf. @ekastos) while the nation is being called to repentance. See Richard N. Longenecker, "Acts," in EBC (9:205-573), 283. Also, Stanley Toussaint, "Acts," in BKC (349-432), 359; Wilkin, "Repentance as a Condition," 71-73.
63 Pentecost, Sound Doctrine, 67-68.
64 Bruce, Acts, NICNT, 90.
65 Thomas Walker, The Acts of the Apostles (Chicago: Moody Press, 1965), 76.
66 The word "perish" (v. 20, apwleia) can refer to a temporal destruction, ruin, or loss. For other such uses, see Matt. 26:8/Mark 14:4; Acts 25:16 (MT); 1 Tim. 6:9.
67 See chapter two's argument that biblical faith anticipates real faith. In fact, the text emphasizes Simon's faith by singling him out of the group of Samaritans as one who had believed. Also, the sin to be repented of involves the "thought" of his "heart" and "bitterness," not unbelief in Christ. Even Simon's response in verse 24 befits a saved man better than an unbeliever. For a discussion of Simon's salvation see James Inglis, "Simon Magus," Waymarks in the Wilderness 5 (1897):35-50 reprinted in JOTGES2 (Spring 1989):45-54; Wilkin, "Repentance in the Gospels and Acts," JOTGES 3:19; "Repentance as a Condition," 76-77; Ernst Haenchen, The Acts of the Apostles: A Commentary, transl. B. Noble and G. Shinn (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1971), 303; I. Howard Marshall, Kept by the Power of God: A Study of Perseverance and Falling Away (London: Epworth Press, 1969), 87-88.
68 So Pink, Salvation, 60.
69 Cf. Acts 17:4 where epeisqhsan ("persuaded") indicates the faith of the Thessalonians.
70 For example, he begins with a basic knowledge of the Creator (v. 24), and the unity of the human race as His "offspring" (vv. 25-29). Clearly, no background of Jewish theology is assumed.
71 Ironside, Repent, 60.
72 This understanding of metanoew is suggested by Jacques Dupont, "Le Discours a l'Areopagé (Acts 17, 22-31) lieu de recontre entre christianisme et hellenism," Biblica (Bib) 60 (1979): 542; Michiels, "La Conception Lucanienne," ETL 41:49; Bruce, Acts, NICNT, 361; Haenchen, Acts, 525-26.
73 The relationship of repentance to faith will be discussed later in this chapter.
74 In the context, Paul refers to them as "children" (12:14), speaks of Titus' companion as "our brother" (12:18), and calls them "beloved" (12:19).
75 The evidence that the readers were Christians is overwhelming, and indeed seems to be the author's whole point in verses 4 and 5. Marshall calls this conclusion from verses 4 and 5 "irresistible" (Marshall, Kept by the Power, 138). See the earlier argument on page 28, n. 71.
76 So Donald Guthrie, Hebrews, TNTC (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1983), 138; Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977), 197-98; Brooke Foss Westcott, The Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1970), 144; Kent, The Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1972), 106; Ironside, Repent, 83.
77 Others with this view include John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago: Moody Press, 1966), 57; Merrill C. Tenney, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1963), 13; Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation: An Expository Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), 41-42; Wilkin, "Repentance as a Condition," 162-69.
78 Stott, "Yes," Eternity 10:17. Also, Marc Mueller, "Syllabus," 22.
79 Lenski, Luke, 188.
80 So Nolland, Luke 1-9:20, 149; John A. Martin, "Luke," in BKC (199-265), 211; Alexander Balmain Bruce, "The Synoptic Gospels," in EGT (1:3-651), 482.
81 So Geldenhuys, Luke, 138-39.
82 Robertson, WPNT 3:450
83 So Bruce, Acts, 493; Gerhard A. Krodel, Acts, ACNT (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1986), 465; John Calvin, Commentary upon the Acts of the Apostles, 2 vols., trans. Christopher Fetherstone, ed. Henry Beveridge (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1949), 2:383.
84 Berkhof, Theology, 487. Also, see Emery H. Bancroft, Christian Theology: Systematic and Biblical (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976), 231.
85 Theodore Mueller, "Repentance and Faith: Who Does the Turning?" Concordia Theological Quarterly (CTQ) 45 (1981): 31.
86 Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:62.
87 MacArthur, The Gospel, 163.
88 Ibid., 33. Sharing this view are Stott, "Yes," Eternity 10:17; ten Pas, Lordship, 12; Hoekema, Saved by Grace, 129.
89 So Haenchen, Acts, 251; Marshall, Acts, 120; Hans Conzelmann, The Theology of St. Luke, transl. G. Buzwell (London: Faber & Faber, 1960), 101; Wilkin, "Repentance as a Condition," 75.
90 It is important to note that Cornelius was called "a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews" (10:22). He had nothing to change except his thinking about Christ (See J. Edwin Orr, "Playing the Good News Melody Off-Key," CT 10 [January 1, 1982, 25). Thus the issue is not turning from sin but faith in Christ (10:43), which comprised a change of mind about Him, or repentance.
91 See George Billingslea, "The Identity of Timothy's Opposition in 2 Timothy 2:25-26" (Th.M. thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983), 32-72 for an in-depth discussion. Wilkin summarizes Billingslea's arguments in "Repentance as a Condition," 135-36.
92 Guthrie's comment on this verse supports this writer's understanding of the meaning of met_noia: "It requires a change of mind (metanoia) to come to a recognition of truth when the mind is already ensnared. The same expression for recognition of truth is found in I Tim. ii. 4 denoting the divine desire for all men." Donald Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, TNTC (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1957), 154.
93 Pentecost, Sound Doctrine, 63.
94 The author recognizes the antinomy that accompanies the convergence of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility and does not deny either (cf. Packer, Evangelism, 18-36). However, this does not seem to be the issue here. Rather, it is how the gift of repentance is understood--as a divine power to effect change, or something else.
95 Repentance is the inwrought work of the Holy Spirit effected by faithful preaching of the Word (Ironside, Repent, 39).
96 MacArthur, The Gospel, 40.
97 Ibid., 46. Kent supports MacArthur, but misses his point when he says, "It is difficult to see how a changed attitude toward sin (i.e., repentance) can be excluded from this saving look…" (Kent, "Review Article, GTJ 10:70). A "changed attitude" is much less than MacArthur is claiming.
98 See the discussion of Numbers 21 on p. 55.
99 MacArthur, The Gospel, 49-50. MacArthur bases his conclusion on what is not supplied in the passage, which is not prudent. The "barest essentials" which are present are still carefully selected by both the divine author and the human author to describe the woman's salvation.
100 Ibid., 49.
101 Ibid., 54.
102 Ibid., 58. This statement appears contradictory in that he says one must forsake sin in order to be saved, yet only on this basis will Jesus liberate from sin. It is difficult to reconcile the first half of his statement with a later statement that "repentance is not a pre-salvation attempt to set one's life in order…to make sin right before turning to Christ in faith" (emphasis his; ibid., 163).
103 Chantry, Gospel, 48-49.
104 Bultmann, John, 187-88; Tenney, John, 94-95; Hendriksen, John, 165.
105 Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:61.
106 MacArthur, The Gospel, 90-91; Pink, Salvation, 59.
107 Rudolf Schnackenburg, The Moral Teaching of the New Testament, transl. J. Holland-Smith and W. J. O'Hara (Freiburg: Herder and Herder, 1965), 29.
108 This is understood in the sense of Pauline justification. See Geldenhuys, Luke, 451; Caird, Luke, 203.
109 Wilkin, "Repentance as a Condition," 62.
110 Stott, Basic Christianity, 112; Jones, "Real Repentance," MM, 23.
111 So Marshall, Luke, 697; Talbert, Reading Luke, 177; Geldenhuys, Luke, 471.
112 The fruit John admonished of tax-collectors was "Collect no more than what is appointed for you" (Luke 3:13).
113 This interpretation is taken by Lenski, Luke, 943; Marshall, Luke, 697; A. H. Strong, Systematic Theology (Philadelphia: The Judson Press, 1912), 834-35.
114 Cocoris, Evangelism: A Biblical Approach (Chicago: Moody Press, 1984), 68-69.
115 Chamberlain, Repentance, 41.
116 See again, MacArthur, The Gospel, 33. He claims repentance is not "merely a human work" (emphasis added), but a gift of God. He also denies it is a "pre-salvation attempt to set one's life in order," though he clearly makes turning from sin concurrent with faith in Christ (p. 163).
117 Moreover, "seven" denotes an unlimited number of times. So Paul-Gerhard Mhller, Lukas-Evangelium (Stuttgart: Verlag Katholishes Bibelwerk GmbH, 1986), 140; Marshall, Luke, 643; Hendriksen, Luke, 795.
118 Ironside, Repent, 54.
119 As MacArthur, The Gospel, 162.
120 Ibid., 66, also, 167.
121 If ever there was an opportunity to preach repentance to one in sin, the incident with the Samaritan woman in John 4 was it. But Jesus only speaks of asking and believing. Indeed, Hodges's assertion that John avoids the doctrine of repentance seems well supported by his observation that John the Baptist, when asked why he baptizes, answers not a word about a "baptism of repentance" as Matthew, Mark, and Luke have him answering (Hodges, Free!, 147). For John, the concept of "believe," must adequately convey the concept of repentance. See the later discussion of repentance in relation to faith.
122 Pink answers this argument by declaring that John's Gospel was written to believers to strengthen their faith. He bases this on 20:31 (Pink, Salvation, 52). While agreeing that this was one purpose, and that this can possibly be supported from 20:31, it is nevertheless insisted that 20:31 speaks of initial faith first as the purpose of the book ("that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ"). It is hardly necessary to cite commentators who agree with this primary purpose for John.
123 E.g. Rom. 3:21--5:1; 9:30-33; 10:4-14; 13:11; 1 Cor. 1:21-24; 15:1-11; 2 Cor. 4:4; Gal. 2:16; 3:5-14, 24; Eph. 1:13; 2:8; Phil. 1:29; 3:9; 1 Tim. 1:16; 4:10; 2 Tim. 1:12.
124 In Rom. 2:4 Paul addresses the moralist who, in his self-righteousness, rejects the need of God's righteousness and thus God's attempts to lead him to repentance, "not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance." Repentance here cannot refer to turning from sins because Paul's whole argument is that righteousness comes through faith in Christ, not the works of the law (3:21--5:21). No one can keep the law perfectly (2:13; 3:20). The meaning most consistent with the immediate and larger contexts is that Paul speaks of repentance to the moralist as a change of mind about his self-righteous attitude that keeps him from accepting Christ's righteousness through faith.
125 As discussed, 2 Cor. 12:21 and 2 Tim. 2:25 should not be taken as soteriological uses (See pp. 76, 80-81).
126 Rudolf Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, 2 vols., transl. Kendrick Grobel (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1951 and 1955), 1:73. See Wilkin's discussion and citation of others who make the same observation ("Repentance as a Condition," 118-19).
127 Schnackenburg, John, 1:559.
128 Dunn, Romans 1-8, 82. Others have recognized the distinction between the concept of repentance in general and repentance in relation to the Jew (Lewis Sperry Chafer, Salvation [Wheaton: Van Kampen Press, 1917, 49, and Theology, 3:375-76; Pentecost, Sound Doctrine, 67-68).
129 F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, NICNT (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1964), 124; Simon J. Kistemaker, Hebrews, NTC (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984), 161; Kent, Hebrews, 110-11.
130 See Chafer, Theology, 3:377; Wilkin, "Repentance: Lexical Considerations," JOTGES 2:18; R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1966), 346.
131 Chafer, Theology, 3:377-78.
132 Thomas Constable, "The Gospel Message," in Walvoord: A Tribute, ed. Donald K. Campbell, 201-17 (Chicago: Moody Press, 1982), 208.
133 The exception is Hodges as noted on p. 60. Again, see Hodges, Free!, 143-63 for his view. In light of the previous study, this writer disagrees with Hodges. While it is true that repentance is a broader call than faith in Christ, this should not exclude faith as a form of repentance. After all, faith in Christ is the most essential condition of a harmonious relationship with God.