Note: A Comment by Gina pointed out a presupposed definition of repentance that I had not addressed in the original question, and now corrected here.

Luke 24:47 - and that repentance | μετάνοιαν for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

NIV, Isaiah 59:20 - “The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent | וּלְשָׁבֵ֥י of their sins,” declares the Lord.

Is Luke saying that a "change of Mind | μετάνοια" is required for Salvation, or a "cessation from sin | שׁוּב" in the Hebrew sense? Or, is Luke actually saying that both senses are required for Salvation?

If Luke actually means "Repentance" in the sense of "perfect/complete cessation of sin" - rather than "a change/conviction of mind", then are Christians who claim that they still sin actually saved?


Repentance: Strong's 3341, transliterated as "metanoia", and is literally a "change of mind", and is brought about by a condition of sorrow and abhorrence for past misdeeds or evil actions.

Young's Literal Translation of Luke 24:47 reads,

" and reformation and remission of sins to be proclaimed in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem:"

Reformation / repentance is a change of mind because of a recognition of the evil of sins. That change of mind, that recognition of sin that separates us from God, must come before we can be forgiven. It entails sorrowful intent, and a turning back to God, to walk with Him.

Those who continue in their sins have not yet had that change of mind. They have not yet made that final determination to stop. I am not sure what you mean by "complete/perfect" as that is not in the scripture, but if you are referring to an absolute repentance for a particular sin, that is an individual determination to stop sinning; and it needs a greater desire to love Christ, who sacrificed Himself for us, more than we love ourselves (Matt. 22:37).

Acts 2:37,

" And having heard, they were pricked to the heart; they say also to Peter, and to the rest of the apostles, `What shall we do, men, brethren?'" (YLT)

The sorrow that causes us to be "pricked to the heart" will cause that change of mind.

Ezek. 18:21-22,

"And the wicked -- when he turneth back From all his sins that he hath done, And he hath kept all My statutes, And hath done judgment and righteousness, He doth surely live, he doth not die.

22 All his transgressions that he hath done Are not remembered to him, In his righteousness that he hath done he liveth." (YLT)

Heb. 10:17-18,

"and `their sins and their lawlessness I will remember no more;'and where forgiveness of these [is], there is no more offering for sin." (YLT)

Christ's blood washes us clean once we have repented of our sins (Acts 22:16). The answer then is, "YES", repentance is necessary for forgiveness, and for salvation.

It is a process. We have to recognize that we are in sin, and that the sin will separate us from the Father (Isa. 59:2; Jer. 5:25). We have to be sorrowful, being pricked in the heart at the realization that our sin is why our Savior was nailed to the cross. Our sorrow causes a change in our minds to stop living as the world would have us live in selfish desires, and instead to earnestly want and need to turn back to Him.

Christ is the only way to the Father, as no one comes to the Father but by Him (John 14:6). Once we have repented, then we must be immersed in water (baptized - from the Greek baptizo, to dip fully or submerge) in order to come in contact with the blood of Christ (Acts 2:38, 22:16; Mark 16:16; Rom. 4:7, etc.).

We are baptized into Christ, putting Him on (Rom. 13:14; Gal. 3:27) and are covered by His blood, then we can ask God's forgiveness and receive remission of sins. Having come into contact with the blood of Christ, His blood covers us just as the blood of the lamb that was painted over the lintels of the doors in the last plague of Egypt, and in the same way the judgment passes over us... as long as we live for Him, and continue to be repentant when we fall and stumble. If we die in the Lord, faithful unto death, that judgment will pass over us!

But, if we stumble and turn back to the world, and turn back to sin, it will separate us once again from our heavenly Father.

Heb. 10:26,

"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."

We cannot use the blood of Christ as a bargaining chip. God will know the intent of our heart, and those that premeditate the commission of a sin, and then try to come back and say, "Oh, I am sorry, please forgive me"... well, He will know that foreknowledge of the sin was in your heart. There is no repentance with foreknowledge, as that sin crucifies our Lord and Savior again.

Heb. 6:6,

" If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."

Heb. 10:29,

"Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?"

Repentance (change of mind), then forgiveness / remission of sins, and we are united with the Father through Christ to be restored to Him, to be counted worthy of life eternal (John 3:15; 10:28; 17:3; 2 Thess. 1:5)

Rom. 2:6-9,

"Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;"

The promise is to all those who continue in His word, who continue to walk after Him, and to seek Him every day. It is not easy, and there is a cost by denying the approval of the world, and the the fellowship with the world which is enmity with God (James 4:4).

We fall, we repent, we pick ourselves back up and turn back to Him, and ask His forgiveness, and we have the promise of the remission of those sins. They will not separate us from our Father in heaven as long as we repent of them.

Rom. 8:38-39,

" For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Once covered by the blood of Christ, should we turn our back on Him and fail to repent, fail to keep trying, fail to seek Him, we will have lost that salvation. So, repentance is a continual process, because all of us fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).

  • It sounds as if you are equating forgiveness of sins with salvation. – user33515 Jun 22 '17 at 15:59
  • @user33515 Which part of this answer, other than the last two words, mentions about salvation? – justhalf Jun 22 '17 at 23:04
  • See additional material. Covered by the blood of Christ means the judgment will pass over us, and we will have salvation. It is the anti-type of Exodus chap. 12. – Gina Jun 23 '17 at 0:14
  • The Hebrew "teshuva" is often translated as "repentance" because it means turning back to God. The Greek "metanoia" - change of mind - causes us to turn back to God. The intent and the meaning is the same in the OT as the NT of renewing our minds and returning to God. And, a change of mind that is true and determined results in the change of actions. The old Bob Newhart skit of the psychiatrist's answer to the patient who keeps doing something that causes her pain...."Stop doing that!" Which is also Jesus's answer, "SIn no more." – Gina Aug 18 '17 at 11:46
  • @Gina - I updated the question, given your comments and answers. Your answers does address how "repentance" should be interpreted - which is the heart of the question, (change of act, change of mind, or both - and to what degree). Thank you again. – elika kohen Aug 18 '17 at 17:32

In Luke's usage what is in view in "repentance" is specifically a change of mind in regard to one's own behavior which involves a turning to or returning to obedience to God, which is also largely how we use the English word:


If one were to change one's mind from painting one's car red instead of blue, that isn't the "repentance" in view in their preaching. When one repents one rues one's ways and amends their behavior.

NIV Matthew 21: 28“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

29“ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

30“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

31“Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

“The first,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

But imagine if a guy was robbing banks every day. One day he decides this is wrong and returns to obeying the law. Does the fact that he no longer robs banks secure forgiveness for the previous robberies? I trow not.

So repentance, while necessary is not the basis upon which God forgives sins. However, neither will he forgives the sins of one who doesn't give up their career of bank robbery and doesn't return to obedience.

The sole basis for justification (forgiveness of sins) is the generous disposition of God. God freely forgives sins without any kind of payment or earning. He does so for those that believe his "report". The report is the fact that God raised his Anointed from the dead.

But though God promises no forgiveness simply for returning to obedience (which is required anyway) he does not forgive the sins of the unrepentant.

The basis of forgiveness of sins is faith in God's report. The conditions of forgiveness are many:

  • repentance (return to obedience)
  • water baptism
  • forgiving those who offend us
  • etc.

I am indebted to Charles Granderson Finney for the explanation of these insights:

Charles Granderson Finney


  • I amended the post. – Ruminator Aug 18 '17 at 10:40
  • WoundedEgo - +1, Thank you. I suppose the only thing missing here is the connection to salvation, (if there is any). And, I am still trying to figure out if "a change of mind" is the same thing as "a change of action". Could someone be convicted that something is wrong, (a change of mind), and still fill into the temptation of doing it again? I am going to put that into the question explicitly, hopefully it clarifies a little. – elika kohen Aug 18 '17 at 16:58

The NIV translation of Isaiah 59:20 may not be exactly accurate. There is a disagreement between the Masoretic Text and the Greek Septuagint here. The Septuagint version of the passage reads:

And the deliverer shall come for Sion’s sake, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.

whereas in the Masoretic Text:

He shall come as redeemer to Zion, To those in Jacob who turn back from sin

In the first case, the redeemer himself turns people away from ungodliness; in the second, the people turn themselves away from ungodliness and then the redeemer comes.

In either case, though, I don't think that what is being written of in Isaiah 59:20 - Hebrew or Greek version - is best represented by the Greek word μετάνοια (metanoia).

"Change of mind" is a common definition for metanoia, but I don't think this gets at the full meaning of the word. The root of metanoia is the Greek word νοῦς (nous), which is something more profound than simply "mind" (which is dianoia) - although "mind" is a common lexicon definition for the word.1 Metanoia is "not only sorrow, contrition or regret, but more positively the conversion or turning of our whole life towards God."2

Both versions of the Isaiah verse speak of turning from ungodliness, but I don't think they really convey the complete transformation of orientation that metanoia implies. In the Hebrew version of Sirach (44:16), metanoia translates דעת (Masoretic דַּעַת, dǎǎṯ), meaning "knowledge with focus on moral qualities"3. One example:

Proverbs 2:6

For the Lord giveth wisdom: Out of his mouth comes knowledge and understanding

This notion of repentance as a form of self-knowledge versus some kind of regret seems foreign to many, I think. But some of this may come from imputing meanings of sorrow or regret that are in the English word "repentance" to the Greek word, despite those meanings not really being there. Sorrow and regret may lead to metanoia, but they are not what metanoia consists of. For example, the NIV translation of Luke you cite states:

He told them ... "repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached ..."

but this is actually not what the Greek text says. The literal Greek reads:

εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ... μετάνοιαν καὶ ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν εἰς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη

He told them ... "repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached ..."

The NIV translation leaves the impression that repentance is for the sake of forgiveness of sins, but the literal Greek text actually states that repentance is one thing and forgiveness of sins another.

1. See, e.g., Glossary, The Philokalia, vol. 1 (tr. from the Greek; Faber and Faber, 1979), p.362
2. Ibid., p. 364
3. Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament)


There are two ways to answer your question. One is to presume bible inerrancy is true, and thus assume that no interpretation can be considered valid unless it harmonizes this part of Luke with everything else in the bible. The other way is to allow that Luke might have meant something that doesn't necessarily harmonize with other parts of the bible.

I think the second approach is more objective, since bible inerrancy has nowhere near the universal acclaim that we accord to other proposed tools of interpretation such as grammar and immediate context.

I think that the bible does not provide a consistent solution to the problem of repentance. It's best to accept Luke at face value. He did not qualify the sense of repentance, so you might be opening up terriitory Luke didn't intend the reader to go into, when you ask whether he meant complete or perfect repentance. Perhaps his failure to qualify renders your question unanswerable. But we curious humans don't like admitting the solution is beyond our reach.

Because Luke must have believed people are imperfect, and yet he still said two people were righteous in the sight of god and obeyed all of God's commands (Luke 1:6), Luke probably is talking about repentance in the normal everyday sense that admits nobody's repentance can be "complete" or "perfect", so that he expects you to answer the question of "did you properly repent?" without needing him to qualify further than he did.

Just like you can answer "are you saved" without having to get your Ph.d in Supralapsarianism.

  • Barry - Offhand, I think this is not limited to Luke. John the Baptist said the same things, and I might be able to dig it up other places. Would it help to provide these? Or, is the solution the same - regardless? – elika kohen Jun 22 '17 at 21:55

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