Acts 5:31 (KJV)

31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

Acts 11:18 (KJV)

When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

2 Timothy 2:25 (KJV)

25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

The verses above suggest that repentance is a gift. Should we view repentance as a gift of God and not something we offer to God?


The quoted texts, Acts 5:31, 11:18, 2 Tim 2:25, are among many that teach this same idea, namely, that salvation is entirely God's initiative. Here are some more: Phil 2:13, John 6:44, Rom 2:4. Therefore, repentance, confession and conversion are not things we offer to God but our response to His pleading and prompting!!

Let me state this more strongly, Salvation is a free gift (Rom 3:20, 4:6, Eph 2:5, 8-10, Gal 2:16, Tit 3:5, Isa 64:6, Acts 4:12, etc) and decided upon by God before the world began (Matt 25:34, Heb 4:3, Rev 13:8). Thus, there was a plan to save sinners before there was a sinner! Such a plan was created without consulting any human. Further, this plan was initiated to demonstrate God's justice and righteousness (Rom 3:25, 26). Therefore, repentance is not a work we do to earn salvation - it is God's initiative (Acts 17:30) not ours.

The salvation that came as such a shock to the Jews, was that it was universal and included Gentiles. This idea is repeated numerous times in Scripture:

  • John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
  • John 3:16, “God so loved the world that He gave …”
  • John 12:32, “I [Jesus] … will draw all people to myself.”
  • Acts 17:30, “God … commands all people everywhere to repent.”
  • Rom 3:23, 24, “… for all have sinned … and all are freely forgiven...”
  • Rom 5:8, 10, “… while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. … if, while were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him by the death of His Son, …”
  • Rom 5:15, “But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s [Adam’s] offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to the many.” [Note the same word, “many” applies to all people.]
  • Rom 5:18, “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all people, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all people, resulting in justification of life.”
  • Rom 11:32, “For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.”
  • 2 Cor 5:14, “…we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.”
  • 2 Cor 5:18, 19, “…God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ …”
  • 1 Tim 2:3, 4, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
  • 1 Tim 2:6, “[Jesus Christ] gave Himself as a ransom for all people.”
  • Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God appeared bringing salvation to all people.”
  • Heb 2:9, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”
  • 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
  • 1 John 2:2, “He Himself [Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours [Christians to whom John writes] only but also for the whole world.”
  • Isa 53:6, “We all like sheep have gone astray … and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

The Bible frequently makes this same point of wanting to save all people by emphasising that God does not show favouritism but treats all people impartially (Duet 10:17-19, 2 Chron 19:7, Ezek 18:25, Mk 12:14, Acts 10:34 Rom 2:10-11; Eph 6:9, 1 Pet 1:17).

  • Great answer. +1 So you would agree that repentance is a gift and that repentance is NOT a prerequisite to salvation, ie repent first, then God will forgive you? – alb Nov 3 '18 at 22:10
  • Almost … Salvation is granted to all. In one sense Gad has already saved all people but not all will be saved. Rom 3:23, 24 - "all have sinned … and are freely for given...". Forgiveness is not the issue - it is free and already accomplished. The problem now is the change that God want to make in us. Rom 12:1, 2. Repentance and confession are not a theological prerequisite but a psychological prerequisite - a drunk must admit he is a drunk before any change can occur. – user25930 Nov 3 '18 at 22:53
  • While God has granted all people repentance, not all will repent. – user25930 Nov 3 '18 at 23:25

You could say it is a gift though more properly it is part of a covenant. God promised thru Ezekiel that God was going to raise Israel from the dead:

[Eze 37:14 KJV] 14 And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken [it], and performed [it], saith the LORD.

Thru Jeremiah he promised a new covenant and a new heart:

[Jer 31:33-34 KJV] 33 But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

So it was a shock when gentiles also appeared to be receiving the benefits of the new covenant:

KJV Acts 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

Paul instructs Timothy to instruct them who oppose them in the hopes that God will give them repentance. This would have been a personal matter for Paul, the persecuter:

KJV 2 Timothy 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

For these with the "lockjaw" of stubbornness will need dealings from God and must be a gift.

  • 1
    Good answer +1. – alb Nov 3 '18 at 22:12

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