Repentance

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Etymology

Middle English, from Anglo-French repentir, from Medieval Latin repoenitēre, from Latin re- + Late Latin poenitēre to feel regret, alteration of Latin paenitēre

Definitions

intransitive verb
  • 1 : to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life
  • 2 a : to feel regret or contrition
b : to change one's mind
transitive verb
  • 1 : to cause to feel regret or contrition
  • 2 : to feel sorrow, regret, or contrition for


For lessons on the related topic of Forgiveness, follow this link.

Description

Repentance is choosing to turn to God. In religious contexts it usually refers to confession to God, ceasing sin against God, and resolving to live according to religious law. It typically includes an admission of guilt, a promise or resolve not to repeat the offense; an attempt to make restitution for the wrong, or in some way to reverse the harmful effects of the wrong where possible.

In Biblical Hebrew, the idea of repentance is represented by two verbs: שוב shuv (to return) and נחם nicham (to feel sorrow). In the New Testament, the word translated as 'repentance' is the Greek word μετάνοια (metanoia), "after/behind one's mind", which is a compound word of the preposition 'meta' (after, with), and the verb 'noeo' (to perceive, to think, the result of perceiving or observing). In this compound word the preposition combines the two meanings of time and change, which may be denoted by 'after' and 'different'; so that the whole compound means: 'to think differently after'. Metanoia is therefore primarily an after-thought, different from the former thought; a change of mind accompanied by regret and change of conduct, "change of mind and heart", or, "change of consciousness". A description of repentance in the New Testament can be found in the parable of the prodigal son found in the Gospel of Luke (chapter 15 beginning at verse 11).