Greek word - (metanoeo G3340)

Quiz - Choose the answer that is closest to what you think REPENT is.
A - to change your ways
B - to get saved
C - to feel sorry for sin
D - to do penance

Problem - Outdated, Misused

KJV Example - "Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth." (Revelation 2:16)


The Greek word for repent, metanoeo, has a strange history in the early English Bible versions. It was first translated as "do penance" by John Wycliffe in 1395. Penance is a practice of the Roman Catholic church. John Wycliffe was Roman Catholic. The next two English versions (Coverdale 1525 and Tyndale 1535) translate it as convert. Convert means to turn around, to transform, to change. Then the Bishop's Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, and the King James Version 1611 have it as repent. Why was it changed from convert to repent? Repent has always carried with it the idea of regret, not change, so it is quite different than convert.

This word is often misused in the church.

Many think of repent as being sorry for committing a sin. That is the meaning of the English word, but it is not the meaning of the Greek word behind repent. Metanoeo has two parts: meta (change) and nous (mind). Literally, it is a change of mind. Some know this fact about metanoeo and so they will say that it is a change of mind. It is not.

Like English words, sometimes the meaning of Greek words change with time. This is one that did. By the time of the New Testament, metanoeo did not mean to change one's mind. It meant to change one's ways.

One thing that a Bible student must do once he figures out what a Greek word means is to plug it into the places where that Greek word appears in the New Testament. If the meaning does not fit, it is not correct. When you replace repent with "change one's mind" it does not fit.

Look at Revelation 2:16. "Repent, or else I will come unto thee quickly." Replace repent with change your mind. "Change your mind, or else I will come unto thee quickly." Is it telling people to change their minds about their actions? to change their mind, but not their actions? No. They must change their ways, what they do. This is why convert was used to translate metanoeo in the early English versions, convert means to change.

In the Bible, repent means to change a person's ways.

A sinner changing his ways is the solution for any sin. It is not about being sorry, begging for forgiveness, or saying that you will not sin any more. It is about an actual change: quitting the sin and doing what is right.

Do you have a sin in your life? What should you do about it? Stop it. Change your ways. This is repenting the Biblical way.

In the Bible, repent is change your ways.

Modern Synonym - to change your ways

Bible Version Tally (how other versions translate this word) - repent (34 of 52), change (8 of 52), turn (5 of 52), do penance (2 of 52)

Breakthrough Version - "So change your ways. If not, I am coming to you quickly, and I will go to war against them with the sword of My mouth." (Revelation 2:16)

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