Repentance in Romans and Corinthians-Pt. 12

by Ronald Shea

See part 10 here

What is the true Biblical Definition of Repent or Repentance

Somehow we see repentance either as a turning from sin, or a remorse, or sorrow regarding sin.  Or even a change of heart.  But is this what repentance means in salvation?  Ron Shea has done a series touching on every word usage of repent/repentance in the New Testament.  Since God repented more than anyone in the Old Testament, I feel sure all readers here can reasonably agree that it does not possibly mean ‘turn from sin’.    So please consider the series, you can search repentance and Ron Shea if you’d like to start part one.  In Christ, Holly

2 cor 11-3-4

Repentance in Romans 2:4

1       Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

2       But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.

3       And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

4       Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

5       But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

Subject Called to Repentance:

“O Man.”  (vs. 1)  The subject is a hypothetical audience, wherein Paul is able to address men who judge others.

Object of Repentance:

The object of repentance is not expressly stated.  Since repentance means “a change of mind,” we can only inferentially determine the object of repentance by identifying the thinking of those who are called to repentance.  There are three words in the context that relate to the thinking of the subject who is called to repentance . . . “judgest” (vs. 1) and “thinkest” (vs. 3) and “despiseth” (vs. 4). Of these, the thing that is “inexcusable” and said to be the basis for “condemnation” is the act of judging another for that which the subject himself does (vs. 1).  The judgment of the subject on other sinners is held in start contrast to the “riches of [God’s] goodness and forbearance and longsuffering”  (vs. 4).  Consistent with his “judging,” the Man also “thinks” that he will escape the judgment of God even though he does the same things.  Again, this is self righteousness.  He sees himself as “good enough” to avoid God’s judgment.  Finally, rather than being moved by God’s forebearance, the self righteous “man” “hardened” (entrenched) in his self-righteousness.  Rather than interpreting God’s forebearance as God’s grace, and an example for him to follow, the self-righteous man sees the forebearance of God as evidence of his (the man’s) intrinsic goodness.  In a more abstract sense, this is simply self righteousness.  Like the passage in Luke 13:1-5, wherein certain Judeans believed that only the worst sinners were judged (and believing they were not among the worst sinners, and therefore, not worthy of God’s judgment), the man in Romans 2 is similarly trusting in his own self righteousness as a vehicle for avoiding God’s judgment.  Quite simply, the man is trusting in morality to save him.  And he must repent, and rely on God’s grace for his salvation.  If he relies on himself as his own savior, he will perish.

Consequence of lack of repentance:

The context is plainly soteriological.  The subject who fails to repent “condemns [him]self” (vs. 1), secures “the judgment of God” (vs. 2 & 3), “wrath against the day of wrath” (vs. 5), and “the righteous judgment of God” (vs. 5) if he fails to repent of his unrighteousness and reject the grace of God.

 Repentance in Romans 11:29

24     For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?

25     For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

26     And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

27     For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

28     As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.

29     For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

Subject Who Will Not Repent:



Object of Repentance:

His election of the nation of Israel.  He will not repent of it in spite of their unbelief.

Consequence of God’s Not Repenting:

The promises God has made to Israel remain true in spite of their unbelief.


Repentance in 2 Corinthians 7:8, 9 & 10

5       For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.

6       Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus;

7       And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more.

8       For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.

9       Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.

10     For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

11     For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

12     Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you.

Subject Who Repented:

The people of the church of Corinth.

Object of Repentance:

The object of repentance is 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 the Corinthians changed their mind. Corinth had been a profoundly carnal church, so much so that Paul’s first letter to them can be regarded as a “disciplinary letter.”  In Paul’s first letter, we learn that the Church of Corinth had factions that boasted in being converted by local superstars, as if that made their salvation more impressive (1st Cor. 1:11; 3:3-4).  They were prideful and puffed up (1st Cor. 4:6).  They boasted in how tolerant they were to incest in their midst (1st Cor. 5:1-2).  The men were participating in ritual prostitution at the temple of Aphrodite (1st Cor. 6:15-20).  Church members participating in animal sacrifice at pagan temples (1st Cor. 10:19-22).  They had “charismania” (1 Cor. 12), drunkenness and gluttony at the Lords table (1st Cor. 11:20-22).  They were a mess.  But they had been made sorrowful by Paul’s letter, and had repented.  From the context of both epistles, the object of their repentance would appear to be their sinful behavior, and their tolerance of sin.

It is significant to note that sorrow is not equal to repentance.  Their godly sorrow resulted in their repentance.

Consequence of repentance:

They “approved [them]selves to be clear in this matter.”  It is noteworthy that, whenever sin is the expressed or implied object of repentance, the context unmistakably denotes some consequence of that repentance other than eternal salvation.

In view of the profound clarity of Scripture on this, it is more than a little curious that such a large percentage of professing Christendom remains persuaded that one must repent of their sins to be saved!

 Repentance in 2 Corinthians 12:21

20     For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:

21     And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.

Subject Called to Repentance:

The people of the church of Corinth.

Object of Repentance:

The uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.

Consequence of lack of repentance:

Paul will be humbled and bewail the news that many Corinthians remain in sin if this should happen.

Repentance in the book of Timothy & Peter – Part 13

Ron Shea can be found at, where you can also find gospel booklets to print out in different languages.  He has a place for difficult passages.  It’s not a very up to date site, but I think we’re familiar with the struggling church vs. the mega churches.  If you would like to support his ministry, you can do so on his page where there is a donation button.  In Christ, Holly

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