Heart of Repentance, The

18 “To open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’ 19 “For that reason, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but continually proclaimed to those in Damascus first, and in Jerusalem, and then all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they are to repent and turn to God, performing deeds consistent with repentance.” Acts 26:18-20

This passage of Scripture begins by saying that The Lord sent Paul to the Gentiles “to open their eyes”.  Let’s meditate for a moment on that phrase – “to open their eyes”.  We are familiar with phrases of similar meaning:  “to see the light”, “to be enlightened”, etc.  The meaning is to somehow come to an understanding of something.  I believe that this is the essential meaning of the term “repentance” as it is used in the New Testament.  The Greek word translated “repent” is: metanoeo – a combination of two words – meta meaning “change”, and noeo, meaning “mind”, or “perception” or “understanding”.[1]  “Repentance” is coming to a change of mind – a change in our perception and understanding of God, ourselves, and life.

Let’s listen carefully to Paul’s words to another group of non-believers of the Areopagus in Athens: He said:

“Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent….”[2] 

There is a connection to be made between “ignorance” and “repentance”.  If you notice, Paul is tactfully telling the philosophers on Mars Hill that they were “ignorant” of the things of God, and that God was now calling for them to change their perception and gain understanding of the things of God – that is, He was calling them to “repent”.

But I don’t want to give you the impression that this enlightened understanding which comes with repentance is only for philosopher types.  No, this essential meaning of the term “repentance” is also clearly seen in the words of the apostle Peter which he spoke to common people at Solomon’s Porch after the healing of a lame man at the gate of the temple in Jerusalem. Acts 3:17-19 reads:

17“And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also.
18“But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.
19“Therefore, repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”


Again, we see an ignorance of the things of God, and a preaching of the truth of Christ that calls for, and has the power to effect, a change of perception which gives a new understanding of the things of God.  Repentance is, in fact, a change of perception that enables us to see things from God’s point of viewYes, the Spirit of Truth[3] working in and through the word of truth[4] has the power to change and enlighten our hearts and minds[5] to see Him, to see ourselves, to see everything in life from His point of view – to see things as they really are – in truth and in reality.  This is the heart of repentance – seeing from God’s point of view.

Listen to the beginning of Paul’s wonderful prayer for the Church in his letter to the Colossians – I quote here from a New Testament translation by a man named J.B. Phillips:

“We are asking God that you may see things, as it were, from His point of view by being given spiritual insight and understanding.”[6]  Seeing from God’s point of view – this is the heart of repentance.[7]

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“The Heart of Repentance” is an excerpt from the eBook “Repentance, pages 8-10. See the corresponding eBook on our website.

At Christ’s Table – ACTpublications © 2008

“Explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” 1 Corinthians 2:13

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[1] #3340 Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, W.E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words

[2] Acts 17:30

[3] John 14:17, 15:26, 16:13

[4] John 17:17 and II Corinthians 6:7, Colossians 1:5, II Timothy 2:15, James 1:18

[5] Hebrews 4:12

[6] Colossians 1:9 The New Testament in Modern English, J.B. Phillips

[7] When this inward change is genuine, there are manifested visible outward changes in our behavior and lifestyle – the Scripture refers to these as “fruits of repentance”. Matthew 3:8, Acts 26:20

“Freely you have received; freely give.” (Matthew 10:28)
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Quo Vadis

God is always moving forward in His kingdom plans and purposes. He never moves backward. And for those who love Him, He never stops moving in our lives for His glory. But to continue moving on with God “from glory to glory” requires our living “from faith to faith”. It takes an act of faith