Book of Luke
This is a verse by verse coverage of the Biblical usage of Repentance in the Word of God. Here we cover the Gospel of Luke.
Repentance in Luke 3:3:
3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;
4 As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;
6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
7 Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
9 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Subject Repenting, not repenting, etc.: The people living in the country round about Jordan.
Object of that repentance: Not expressly stated. Since repentance means “a change of mind,” we should first try to determine the object of repentance by determining the concepts or propositions about which men are urged to change their mind. John’s message was that “all flesh would see the salvation of God” (vs. 6). Although the object of repentance is not explicitly stated, this is, contextually, the only candidate.
Consequence of lack of repentance: No remission of sins.
Again, we see repentance in a soteriological context, and again, the object about which the subjects were to change their mind is the salvation of God, which is simply the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Repentance in Luke 3:8
8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
Subject Repenting, not repenting, etc.: The multitude that came forth to be baptized. Matthew specified that these persons were Pharisees and Sadducees. Matthew was written to a Jewish audience. Because Luke wrote to a Gentile audience, it appears he removed reference to what might seem, to a Gentile, to be obscure religious sects within Judaism, and referred to them simply as “the multitude.” We know, however, that these were the religious leaders, which explains why they would be trusting in religion to save them.
Object of that repentance: Salvation through religion. Since repentance means “a change of mind,” we can only inferentially determine the object of repentance by determining the concepts or propositions about which men must change their mind. Here, those invited to repent are told to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance, and “begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father.” The passage is also recorded in Matthew 3:5-9, and with the same message. The meaning of fruit depends on the context. Here, as several other places in Scripture, fruit is equivalent to sound doctrine. It would be evidence, by their confession, or their disciples, that they were not trusting in religion to save them, but in the salvation of God.
Consequence of lack of repentance: Those who fail to repent will be “Hewn down, and cast into the fire.” The object of repentance, salvation by religion, is, throughout Scripture, a soteriological issue. And the consequence of not repenting, to be cast into the fire, is also soteriological imagery of eternal judgment, particularly in view of Matthew’s more detailed treatment of this passage, and the added context he offers. One who trusts in religion to save them is headed for a Christless grave, and a Christless eternity.
Repentance in Luke 5:32
20 And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.
21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?
22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?
23 Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?
24 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.
25 And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.
26 And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.
27 And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me.
28 And he left all, rose up, and followed him.
29 And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them.
30 But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?
31 And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.
32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Subject Called to Repentance: Sinners (vs. 32)
Object of that repentance: Repentance is a change of mind. Therefore, the context should be searched for a word that indicates thinking. The “that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins.” (vs. 24)
Consequence of Repentance: (Implied) the forgiveness of sins.
Repentance in Luke 10:13
9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
10 But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say,
11 Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that thekingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
12 But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.
13 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
14 But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you.
15 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.
16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.
22 All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.
Subject Repenting, not repenting, etc.: Sodom, Tyre and Sidon would have repented (vs. 12-14), in contrast to the response of Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida (vs. 13-15)
Object of that repentance: Believing that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you (vs. 9-11), hearing Christ (vs. 16)
Consequence of lack of repentance: For those who refused to repent: It will be comparatively intolerable in the day of judgment. For those who believed the message of the Christ, “your names are written in heaven.”
In the above passage, repentance is equivalent to receiving Christ or to receiving the good news about the Christ.
Repentance in Luke 11:32
31 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
32 The men of Nineveh shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
Subject Repenting, refusing to repent, etc.: The men of Nineveh
Object of that repentance: The message preached by Jonah
Consequence of lack of repentance: The men of Nineveh will have moral standing to judge the generation that rejected Jesus.
Jesus is presenting an argumentum a fortiori (from the lesser to the greater) . . . the queen of the south came to hear Solomon, and “behold, a greater than Solomon is here.” The men of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah, and “behold, a greater than Jonah is here.” The issue is the person of Christ. He is greater than Solomon or Jonah, and therefore, those who hear him, or the testimony of his apostles, should have received their message even more readily than the queen of the south heard Solomon or the Men of Nineveh received the message of Jonah. Although the focus on the queen of the South and the men of Nineveh is not soteriological, but simply offered as an argumentum a fortiori, the thrust of the passage is soteriological in its movement. Those who reject the gospel of Christ will stand condemned in the day of judgment. The only tribunal in which the present day residents of Jesus’ generation and the men of Nineveh will stand is the eternal tribunal before the bar of God. The argument is plainly, thought tangentially, soteriological.
Repentance in Luke 13:3, 5
1 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things?
3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt inJerusalem?
5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Subject Called to Repentance: Those who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
Object of that repentance: Their errant belief that such judgment is reserved exclusively for the worst sinners.
Consequence of Failure to Repent: They will perish.
This verse was examined earlier in conjunction with salvation through morality and obedience to God’s laws. As noted, a strong argument can be offered that the passage constitutes a threat to the nation of Israel of temporal judgment for rejecting the Messiah, but the stronger argument can probably be advanced that it was a threat of eternal judgment unto those who trust in their own righteousness for salvation.
Repentance in Luke 15:7
1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.
10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
Subject Repenting, not repenting, etc.: Publicans (tax collectors) and sinners.
Object of that repentance: No object of repentance is explicitly stated in this passage. If the object of repentance is to be determined, it must be determined implicitly from the context. The only definitive things we know about the people who are said to repent in this passage are learned in verses 1) They drew near to Jesus and 2) In order to hear Him. The passage is clearly soteriological, and the only definitive thing we can determine about how a sinner repents is that they come to Jesus and receive his teaching.
Consequence of repentance: Something has happened that is profound enough it causes the angels to rejoice. In view of this, and the contrast of “just” men and “sinners,” the passage is plainly soteriological. A “just” man (one who is “not guilty” in the sight of God) has already received the salvation of Jesus Christ, but a “sinner” is in need of repentance. It is clear from the context that the lost sinner becomes right with God when he repents by “drawing near to Jesus” and “hearing Him.” The passage is plainly soteriological, and it is not teaching salvation by morality. It teaches salvation by placing one’s faith in Jesus as the Savior of mankind.
Repentance in Luke 16:30
19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
22 And it came to pass, that . . . the rich man also died, and was buried;
23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:
28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Subject Repenting or not repenting, etc.: The brothers of the rich man.
Object of that repentance: Not expressly stated. However, we know from this passage that repentance is equivalent to “hearing” and “being persuaded” of a message of Moses and the Prophets. (vs. 29, 31).
Consequence of repentance: That they might not “also come to this place of torment.” The torment is clearly and plainly eternal damnation in hell. In view of the plain meaning of this passage, it is beyond comprehension how one can claim that repentance is never used in a soteriological context. The very meaning of being “saved” is to delivered from some circumstance. If being saved from hell is not related to salvation, surely nothing is!
NOTE: Although the object of repentance is not stated or implied, it is equivalent to “being persuaded” (vs. 31) of some message about which Lazarus might “testify” to them. “Being persuaded” of a message is not “turning from one’s sins.” However, these actions are consistent with believing the gospel message of salvation. One is saved by “hearing” of God’s salvation, and being “persuaded” of the message to which God holds them responsible in their particular estate. This passage strongly suggests, but does not expressly state, that the repentance that delivers one from a place of torment is believing on Christ alone as one’s Savior.
Repentance in Luke 17:3-4
3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
Subject Repenting, not repenting, etc.: A “brother” (fellow believer).
Object of that repentance: In some degree, the repentance relates to trespass or wrong committed against a second brother. The word is metanoeisei (from metanoeo, “change one’s mind”). It does not suggest remorse, but an acknowledgment that the conduct was indeed a trespass. It is owning up to the fact that the trespass was not within the right of the offending party, but violated some boundary or right of the offended party. As noted earlier, the fact that the term “repent of your sins” is never found in scripture does not mean that repentance from sin is unbiblical. The point was simply that repentance does not take sin as its inherent object, and since the phrase “repent of your sins” is never actually found in Scripture, the prominence of this phrase in modern vernacular is clearly overdone.
Consequence of repentance: The offended brother is to forgive the offender.
NOTE: Several observations are in order regarding this passage. Firstly, it is specifically not a soteriological passage. It deals with restoring fellowship between two believers. Secondly, the nature of the repentance is not expressly stated. All that is known is the root word, “metanoeo,” and that the repentance was directed to, or at least somehow related to a “trespass.” Thirdly, the word “strepho” (“I turn”) is part of the repentance process for restoring fellowship. As noted earlier, the word “repent” does not mean “to turn” but “to change one’s mind.” It was also noted, however, that the central issue is not this basic definition of repentance, but the object of repentance. Words have a “field of meaning.” For example, the word “run” can mean to move one’s feet quickly to transport oneself. “Run” also describes a wrist watch or piece of machinery that is functional and operating. If one were to draw a circle that encompassed the meanings of the word “run,” and another circle that encompassed the meaning of the word “function” or “operate,” the circles would not be superimposed on top of each other. However, the field of meaning of the terms “run” and “operate” would overlap.
It is noteworthy that, although the Majority Text and the Textus Receptus normally agree, the King James rendition of the Textus Receptus, “turns to you” is, oddly enough, more consistent with the reading of the Alexandrian manuscripts. The words “to you” are not in the Majority text reading. Accordingly, we are not certain if the turning is “to you” (to the offended brother), “from sin” (unstated), or is simply a re-assessment of his words or conduct, recognizing that they were, in fact, offensive. Although the object of repentance is unstated in Luke 17:4, it reasonably appears from the context to be the sin committed against a brother. Since the object of “turning” is not specifically stated in the Majority Text, the extent to which the meaning of metanoeo and strepho overlap in this context is not certain. It appears, however, that there is some redundancy in the use of these terms.
Repentance in Luke 24:47
44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
Subject Repenting, not repenting, etc.: All nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Note, though the terms are geographic, the greater context of the New Testament in general advises us that this message is one to individuals. The term “all nations” is best understood as the extent of the preaching, not the subject who is invited to repent.)
Object of that repentance: Not expressly stated. Since repentance means “a change of mind,” we can only inferentially determine the object of repentance by determining the concepts or propositions about which men must change their mind. The context speaks of Christ suffering and rising from the dead (verse 46), and suggests that this was the focus of Jesus’ teaching when he taught them about Himself from the Psalms and the prophets and the Law of Moses (vs. 44-45). The context therefore suggests that repentance is related to the message of Jesus’ suffering and resurrection. Parallel accounts of the other gospels refer to the commission as preaching “the gospel,” to the nations. Therefore, both internal context and external concordance with the rest of Scripture point in the same direction. To object about which the hearer is to “repent” is Jesus Christ, and specifically, the message of Jesus atoning death for the sins of mankind, and His victorious resurrection.
Consequence of repentance: The consequence is explicitly the “remission of sins.” In view of the fact that the great commission is generally regarded by Catholic and Protestant, liberal and conservative, “bilateral contract” (“lordship” Salvationists) and free grace, that the great commission is related to the proclamation of salvation through Jesus Christ, it stands beyond credulity that some maintain the word “repent” is never used in a soteriological context within Scripture.
About The Author
Ron Shea attended Villanova University on a four year scholarship from the United States Navy. After earning a Bachelor of Electrical engineering, he served four years as a naval officer. He then attended Dallas Theological Seminary where he majored in New Testament Literature and Exegesis, translating the entire New Testament from the original Greek language. He graduated with honors from the four-year Master of Theology program. He went on to earn a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of California, Hastings College of Law, where he earned awards in Admiralty, Jurisprudence, and Oral Argument. He has pastored churches in New Orleans and San Francisco, and is the founder and president of Clear Gospel Crusade.
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