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Text: Luke 13:1-5(ESV)

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

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  • You should explain how do you suppose the meaning of the word is different in this context, to clarify, otherwise the question is incomplete, and merely seeking the meaning of a word.
    – Michael16
    Feb 14, 2022 at 18:16
  • Thanks, Michael. I edited the question. Hope it is clearer.
    – Sam
    Feb 14, 2022 at 18:40
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    Sam, no, I am confused, what's the difference between repent of sins or turn from sins? I think they are the same thing. Repenting is turning away from sins.
    – Michael16
    Feb 15, 2022 at 6:55
  • Michael 16, "Repent of sin" is not a Biblical term. The Greek for "repent/repentance" in savific contexts means to turn, and is not a synonym for confession of sin. For sin cannot be the object of repent, repent(turn) from sin is correct.
    – Sam
    Feb 15, 2022 at 8:00
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    "Repent of sin" is a Biblical term, because in context, what one is turning from is sinful ways. They're not turning from good ways! Mar 4, 2022 at 22:04

4 Answers 4

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The verb μετανοέω (metanoeó) means literally to change one's mind. That is, repent. BDAG has this:

feel remorse, repent, be converted.

Jesus message is rather blunt and simple - unless the people to whom He was speaking repent (have a change of heart) they would perish.

Barnes suggests this (Luke 13:3):

Except ye repent - Except you forsake your sins and turn to God. Jesus took occasion, contrary to their expectation, to make a practical use of that fact, and to warn them of their own danger. He never suffered a suitable occasion to pass without warning the wicked, and entreating them to forsake their evil ways. The subject of religion was always present to his mind. He introduced it easily, freely, fully. In this he showed his love for the souls of people, and in this he set us an example that we should walk in his steps.

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  • @ Dottard +1 good answer.
    – Perry Webb
    Jan 23, 2022 at 12:53
  • @Dottard, this answer seems simple, clean, and correct. Too many try to over define words, skewing the meaning towards their favorite doctrinal positions. Reading in instead of reading out.
    – Austin
    Mar 9, 2022 at 18:18
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In Luke 13:1-5 the Greek word Jesus used is metananoeo, "to have another mind". Jesus was not speaking of just being sorry for having done wrong, nor even of being sorry for having sinned (all wrongdoing is sin - 1 John 5:17 - because all wrongdoing is unrighteousness, but not everybody thinks it is.) The apostle Paul helpfully wrote:

"For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation [and leaves no regret] but the sorrow of the world works death" 2 Corinthians 7:10).

Jesus was speaking of something so radical, so transforming, so impossible for sinful humans to do themselves, that only by embracing him as the Saviour and the Lord could the repentance he spoke of lead to a transformed mind; a new mind.

Combine what Jesus said with what Paul later said (speaking from experience, having become living proof of this 'new mind') and the enormity of Luke 13:1-5 might register. Godly sorrow is required, which is very different to worldly sorrow. Once godly sorrow grips us for our sin, that is evidence that the Holy Spirit is at work. The Holy Spirit's 'job' is to uplift Christ so that he will be looked up to in faith - John 15:26. Such godly sorrow works repentance to salvation. That is because the Holy Spirit grants this new mind, this mind of Christ - 1 Corinthians 2:16. The previous verse there shows that "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God". He cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned (vs. 14).

Only the Holy Spirit can enable a spiritually dead person to be transformed by receiving the mind of Christ, no less.

This absolutely involves repentance, for only the mind of Christ can enable a sinner to see they will perish without this transformation, this "metananoeo". It is all of the one 'cloth', of being clothed with Christ. "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ" (Galatians 3:26-27). Only a person who has truly repented has truly turned around to start following Christ, for then they have the mind of Christ, which replaces their worldly mind.

To try to distinguish repentance from a transformed mind (which results in a transformed life) is like separating the warp from the woof, in a piece of cloth. Anybody who wishes to be "clothed with Christ" has to do what Jesus said in Luke 13:1-5 - to repent the way he meant it, not the way most worldly people think it means; that just to say "sorry" to God will wipe their slate clean. No. Unless the Holy Spirit grants a person repentance unto salvation, they cannot repent the way Jesus said must be done, if we are not to perish.

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    Up-voted +1. Meta + noia 'Mind' and the meta prefix which is a powerful piece of language : an 'overlaying' of a concept upon a concept. The idea of a 'feeling' of 'remorse' is completely wrong and incompatible with the doctrine of the New Testament gospel.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 14, 2022 at 17:58
  • The word is G3340 μετανοέω metanoeo. Meaning change of mind with remorse, reconsider, regretfully feeling sorry and turning around. If it was impossible for humans, God or Christ wouldn't have commanded it to them throughout the scripture. Reconsider!
    – Michael16
    Feb 15, 2022 at 9:54
  • @Michael16 The point is that God enables a person to come to that point of true remorse and true regret by enabling them to see his view of sin, and what it cost him to deal with it. The Holy Spirit convicts a person so that they have that transformation of mind that enables them to walk in the opposite direction, thereafter following Christ because they have been given the mind of Christ. That's how the command is enabled! The Holy Spirit enables disabled sinners!
    – Anne
    Feb 15, 2022 at 11:54
  • If that were the case (Calvinism/Augustin), again as I said, God wouldn't have given the commands to men throughout the Bible, but should have given to the holy spirit. It renders the commands useless.
    – Michael16
    Feb 15, 2022 at 12:02
  • @Michael16 God both commands, and God enables by gifting the Holy Spirit to each person who he saves (Romans 8:1-16). It's all of God, not of works, so that no-one can boast (Ephesians 2:9).
    – Anne
    Feb 15, 2022 at 12:14
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A. μετανοέω/μετάνοια in the Synoptic Gospels

μετανοέω/μετάνοια is a major theme and commandment of the Gospel call, which is ubiquitous in the Synoptic gospels and Acts. In most English Versions, μετανοέω/μετάνοια translated as "repent/repentance" -basically means, "to be sorry again." But the primary lexical idea of the words is to change and turn (around) of whole life, as the Hebrew equivalent in LXX, shuv - to return.

"Repentance" is not "confession." And the famous evangelistic phrase, "Repent of your sin," is NOT a Biblical term, but "Repent for the forgiveness of sin, and the salvation" is a solid Biblical term (Mk 1:4; Lk 3:3; 24:47; Ac 2:38).

In the Scripture, μετανοέω never used to mean merely feeling remorse or regret and do penance for wrongdoings. Instead, μετανοέω used in the sense of turning our life directed toward God resulting from a change of mind/ heart; from the old self-centered life to the God-centered new life in Christ; and for Jews, from the work of the Laws to believing in Jesus, the Gospel.

Jesus in Mark 1: 15 (and John the Baptist, Mt 3:2) speaks to Jews to μετανοεῖτε -Turn ye, not Repent ye (=be sorry). For, in the message, Jesus declares the new Messianic era has come, and now Jews must turn (μετανοέω ) to believe in the Gospel, from the belief in the works of the Laws. Nowhere in the Scripture, turning to believe in the Gospel is a sin that needs repentance /contrition (be sorry). Therefore, the proper translation of μετανοεῖτε is Turn ye, not, Repent ye (=Be sorry ye).

[A note: Interestingly, CEV, GNT, and God's Word Translation have rendered μετανοέω as - Turn back to God; Turn away from your sin, and Change the way you think and act; LSV-convert and believe; Amplified -repent [change your inner self-your old way of thinking, etc.]

Bible is clear, without turning to God, feeling and being sorry for wrongdoings will not get us the forgiveness of sins, much less salvation. Turning to Jesus and believing the Gospel is the only way for eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. It is the prerequisite for salvation, as seen in the thief saved on the cross and the prodigal son (Lk 23:43; 15:11-32). As the evangelical buzzword - "Turn or burn," we need to turn to Jesus for receiving the forgiveness of sin, salvation, and the restoration of the severed relationship.

The Gospel call to turn (μετανοέω) and believe in the Gospel is for all living souls whose hearts/minds are far away from YHWH (Isaiah 29:13; Matt 15:8) -the Jews, gentiles, the unbelieving believers, the backsliders, including the apostates (Jer 3:22). It is always a good time for μετανοέω/μετάνοια (to turn/turning). It is never too late, as in the case of the thief on the cross and the prodigal son. The loving Father is calling all to μετανοέω/μετάνοια, as the old hymn goes: Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling, 1 & 4 stanzas (W.L. Thompson, 1800):

"Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling; 
Calling for you and for me. 
See on the portal, He's watching and waiting; 
Waitin' for you and for me.

O for the wonderful love He has promised, 
promised for you and for me! 
Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon, 
pardon for you and for me.

Ref: Come home, come home; you who are weary, 
come home; Earnestly, tenderly, 
Jesus is calling, calling, O sinner,
come home.

Conclusion:

In the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus and John the Baptist began their ministries by declaring, "Repent ye, rather "turn/return Ye" for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." μετάνοια means turning/returning to God, a prerequisite for salvation, and μετανοέω is our taking the vital steps unto justification and reconciliation with the loving God.

Jesus is saying just as the Galileans and 18 people of Siloam ended in the ill fates, they, all the Jews, will meet the same consequences if they do not μετανοέω - turn from and return to God. The nation of Israel fell to Rome in AD 70. The Gospel call goes out to all humanity:

"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; Μετανοεῖτε -turn - and believe in the gospel!

**(Mk 1:15).

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Great comments. μετανοέω is to change mind, and to change mind is to receive the Mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16) (which "Mind" most fathers interpret as the Holy Spirit, which fits to the context as well), and to do this is nothing less than to die for sin and one's own self and start living for Him who died for us and was risen (2 Cor. 5:15). And this is impossible to do without Christ.

Therefore, when He asks us to repent, He implicitly asks us to receive Him in our lives, for nobody can abandon the old man and be dressed in new man, become the "new creation" without the Lord starting living in us: "And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (Gal. 5:24). But am I Christ's when I write this clever and right thing? No, I am not, because still my own desires and deepest urges are more important for me than my urge towards Christ, even though I am baptized and even though I attend church services. And majority of the mankind is such, as I read this pessimistic truth in the Gospels themselves (cf. 2 Tim. 3:5; or Matthew 7:13, which says that many prefer the broad road leading to perdition to a narrow road leading to salvation).

Thus, to speak clever things is a good thing, but not to put those things in one's life is a foolish thing, better to be a street sweeper (an honorable profession, sincerely!) without trying let Christ live in one's heart, than a theologian praising Christ in words, while in deed and in heart denying Him. And such is the vast majority of theologians, just as the majority of street sweepers, and the latter are still better humans than the former, due to a lesser degree of hypocrisy.

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