Torrey - Man -9.2- What is Repentance?

II. WHAT IS REPENTANCE?

THE ETYMOLOGY OF THE WORDS USED:

The primary thought of the Hebrew word translated "repent" in the Old Testament is, to pant, to sigh, to groan, and so to lament, to grieve about one's doing. This Hebrew word occurs frequently in the Old Testament in the active form in the sense to comfort (e.g., Psalm 23:4 — "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me"). The Greek word in the New Testament translated "repent" means "to change one's mind."

There is another Greek word used in the New Testament five times and translated "repent." This word means "it is a care to one afterwards," or, it "repents one." This word is also used in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew word mentioned above. The thought of both sorrow and change of purpose is in the words.

USAGE OF THE WORDS IN THE BIBLE: Jeremiah 8:6 — -"I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle." Jeremiah 18:8 — "If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their' evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them." Jeremiah 26:3 — "If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil, which I proposed to do unto them because of the evil of their doings." Jeremiah 42:10 — "If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down: and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you." Ezekiel 24:14 — "I the LORD have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent; according to thy ways, and according to thy doings, shall they judge thee, saith the LORD God." Joel 2:13-14 — "And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful , slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil." Amos 7:1-6 — "Thus hath the LORD God shewed unto me; and behold, he formed grasshoppers in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth after the king's mowings. And it came to pass, that when they had made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, O LORD God, forgive I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small. The LORD repented for this: It shall not be, saith the LORD. Thus hath the LORD God shewed unto me: and, behold, the Lore) God called to contend by fire, and it devoured the great deep, and did eat up a part. Then said I, O LORD God, cease, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small. The LORD repented for this: This also shall not be, saith the LORD God." Jonah 3:8-10 — "But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not." Matthew 12:41 — "The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here."

In the usage of the words, the thought of regret and the thought of change of purpose and action are both found; but the emphasis is on the change of purpose and action, especially in the first New Testament word mentioned above.

Today we risk underestimating the importance of sorrow for sin. Sorrow for sin is not repentance, but it is an element in repentance. What the repentance or change of mind is about must always be determined by the context. Repentance of sin is such a sorrow for sin or abhorrence of sin, such a change of mind about it, that it leads the sinner to turn away from sin with all his heart.