Meta what? (a blog about repentance and its consequenses)


Repentance is a word that occurs over and over again in the Bible, particularly in the writings of Luke (the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles) but to get to the bottom of it I am only going to look at five of them, The four mentions in Mark’s Gospel and one in Acts Chapter 2 from the day of Pentecost. I am using Mark’s Gospel because although there are only four mentions of repentance, one disputed, they come at significant times in the ministry of Jesus.

I am using a question mark in the titles, because what the Bible is talking about does not mean the same as the English word repent or repentance, but there is not a single English word to convey the meaning the Bible writers intended.


  • English: the activity of reviewing one’s actions and feeling contrition or regret for past wrongs.
  • Bible: a transformative change of heart.

(Boring paragraphs about Greek words next, skip if you don’t like this kind of thing, I’m indenting them.)

There are two words in the Greek used in the Bible, the noun metanoia/μετάνοια usually translated repentance, and the verb metanoeo/μετανοέω usually translated repent. As metanoia is an abstract noun I’m going to try getting around using it, as abstract nouns are often misunderstood, I’ll be trying to concentrate on metanoeo, the verb.

Metanoeo is made up of two parts, Meta and noeo. Meta means change, as in metamorphosis, a change in form or appearance. Noeo means mind. in classical Greek metanoeo is an afterthought.

(For those who didn’t skip, that wasn’t so hard, was it?)

Mark’s Gospel

  • John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (1:5)
  • “The time has come,” [Jesus] said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (1:15)
  • (Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners .” (2:17) Authorized Version adds “to repentance” at the end.)
  • [The Disciples] went out and preached that people should repent. (6:12)

Acts of the Apostles

  • Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (2:38)

We have to repent, to reform, to change our way of perceiving things. To change our way of thinking, particularly relating to Jesus, from being what our human nature would say to being what God says.

The importance of repentance.

Even though there are only three undisputed uses of metanoia/metanoeo in Mark, the placing is very important, The preaching of John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus, and Jesus setting it clear. Jesus sending his disciples out to preach a change of mind and Change of mind/attitude being preached at the very beginning of the Church. It does not get more basic than that. Changing your world view is an important step in coming to Jesus.

So who do you follow?

And if you are following Jesus remember that he sent out his disciples to preach the need for a change of perspective.


Here’s Bob.





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