At the beginning of this new year maybe it would be appropriate for us to look at some other beginnings. John the Baptist began his ministry saying, “Repent . . .” (Matt 3:2). Matthew records that Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent . . .” (Matt 4:17). And when Peter preached the gospel on the day of Pentecost, his very first command to his audience was “Repent . . .” (Acts 2:38). So, a good word for this year's beginning is REPENT!
To begin, let us note that there were two Greek words sometimes translated repent. The weaker word was metamelomai (meh tah MEL oh my) and it meant to have a change of feeling, as when Judas “repented” of having betrayed hi s Lord (Matt 27:3). A better translation for this word is “to regret” or “to feel remorse.” But merely regretting a wrong action is less than real repentance. As Aristotle once noted, “Mean, good-for-nothing people are full of regret.”
The stronger word for repent was metanoeo (meh tah noh EH oh). This word meant to have a change of mind and action, as opposed to merely having a change of feeling. It meant to change your mind and do something about it! Plutarch, for instance, tells of “two murderers, who having spared a child, afterwards repented, and sought to slay it.” They changed their mind; they acted upon that change!
For Christians, however, repentance is always from bad to good. When Polycarp was about to be martyred, the Pro-Consu1 threatened him, “I have wild beasts, I will deliver you to them, unless you repent.” Polycarp replied, “Call for them, for repentance from better to worse is not allowed us.” Having once made the right “change of mind” in turning to God, Polycarp would not change back.
(To be continued in Part Two)