Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 25, 1983
NUMBER 50, PAGE 5,13a

Marriage - As God Would Have It - (No. 2)

Gene Frost

Since a denial of the necessity of repentance (in its true meaning) constitutes the principal battle-ground in the controversy over the meaning of Christ's teaching in Matthew 19, we now develop the point further.

III. Repentance

Considering the case of one living in adultery it is asked, "Does repentance require that they separate?" Some boldly assert that no change in conduct is involved in repentance: "repentance simply means a change of mind;" repentance "is not a change of conduct;" "repentance is a change of mind toward God."

First, let us define this word "repentance"' then we shall present the Bible usage demonstrating the fact that repentance does involve a corresponding change in conduct.

Lexicographers And Critical Comments

Hermann Cremer: "Acts viii. 22, apo tas kakias — to repent of anything, not only to forsake it, but to change one's mind and apprehension regarding it." (metanoeo, page 440, Biblico-Theological Lexicon of New Testament Greek)

Edward Robinson: "In a religious sense, implying sorrow for unbelief and sin, and turning from them unto God and the gospel of Christ;" (metanoeo, page 458, Greek and English Lexicon of the New Testament).

Alexander Souter: "....apo indicates what is given up in this change, Heb. vi.1" (metanoia) "....with apo or ek, the giving up definitely of the course denoted by the following words as indicated." (metanoeo, page 157, A Pocket Lexicon to the Greek New Testament).

A. T. Robertson: Matt. 3:2. "John did not call on the people to be sorry, but to change (think afterwards) their mental attitudes (metanoeite) and conduct." (Page 24, Vol. I, Word Pictures in the New Testament)

James Orr. "Repentance is the turning from sin...." (Page 790, Hastings' Bible Dictionary)

W. E. Vines, "to change one's mind or purpose, always in the N.T., involving a change for the better, an amendment." (Page 280, Vol. III, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words)

Henry Thayer: "to change one's mind for the better, heartily to amend with abhorrence one's past sins." (Page 405, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament)

J. W. McGarvey: "a change of the will produced by sorrow for sin and leading to reformation." (Page 176, Vol. I, Lard's Quarterly)

J. W. Shepherd: "Repentance, then, fully defined, is a change of will produced by sorrow, leading to a reformation of life...." (Page 168, Advocate Commentary)

Adam Clarke: "That his mind, purposes, opinions and inclinations, are changed; and that, in consequence, there is a total change in his conduct." (Page 50, Vol. V, Commentary)

J. A. Spencer: On Matt. 3:2, "'repent; reform, be changed, etc. This word denotes a change of mind or disposition, leading to a better and more righteous practice." (Page 9, Spencer Greek Testament)

Albert Barnes, "Change of mind, and purpose, and life. The word here evidently means, not merely sorrow, but a forsaking of sin and turning from it." (Page 60, Barnes' Notes: Romans)

Moses E. Lard: "Repentance denotes our mental determination to forsake sin, resulting in the actual abandonment of it." (Page 76, Commentary)

Scripture Proofs Of The Definition

1. Revelation 9:20,21, "And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts." Inasmuch as these men would not cease their worship of idols, they repented not! To repent of idolatry is to cease worshipping idols. Repentance is a change of mind involving amendment! Repentance brings about a change of life.

This is true also of fornication: repentance demands that the fornicator change his mind (will) toward the illicit acts, to abhor them and cease them. The fornicator who does not cease the act, designated as "adultery" before baptism, does not repent of adultery!

2. 2 Corinthians 12:20, 21, "For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you as ye would not: lest there be debates, envying, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: 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." "Which have sinned already" or "who have before sinned" is translated from proamartano, here genitive plural, masculine, of the articular perfect active participle, "to emphasize continuance of their sinful state as opposed to me metanoesantan' (did not repent) in the aorist tense." (Page 269, Vol. IV, Word Pictures, A. T. Robertson) Inasmuch as one continues in sin (and notice that fornication is included), he does not repent! This fact we emphasize: when one repents, he quits violating God's will!

3. Jonah 3:10: here we find additional evidence that repentance involves a change of life. When Jonah preached to the people of Nineveh, "they repented" (Matthew 12,41): "And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way...." The word "turned" is from the Hebrew chub and in the Septuagint is translated by the Greek apostrepho, most frequently epistrepho. This latter: "In Scripture, It is generally used to denote the positive turning to God, which implies an abnegation of one's former sinful conduct, or of a tendency of life away from God — to repent, to change for the better." (Pages 880, 531, Cremer's Biblico-Theological Lexicon) Where in Jonah it is stated of the Ninevites that "they turned form their evil way," in Mathew 12:41, Jesus says, "they repented."

4. Luke 15:10-24, "Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." (Verse 10) In verses 11-24, Jesus illustrates repentance: there was a prodigal son who "came to himself" and said, "I will arise and go to my father." "And he arose and came to his father." When he came to himself, he acted accordingly with a change of conduct. This is repentance!

There are other Scripture proofs of this usage.


Examples of people quitting their sins, and in particular adultery, when becoming Christians, we now cite. We have already called attention to Colossians 3:5-8 (See II. Living In Adultery).

In Corinth there were adulterers, as well as idolaters, thieves, and drunkards. (1 Cor. 6:9-10) In writing to the church, Paul says, "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." (Verse 11) In other words, the Corinthians brethren were at one time guilty of adultery, idolatry, theft, drunkenness, et al., but they were baptized. (Acts 18:8) Now they no longer commit these sins: the drunkard ceased his drinking, the thief his stealing, the idolater ceased his idolatry, and the adulterer ceased his adulteries. They repented. (See above: 2 Cor. 12:20, 21) To continue in sin is not to repent!

Consequently, when one violates the will of God, and puts away his wife without cause (fornication) and marries another, he commits adultery. If he repents, he will cease this sin: he will no more commit the illicit sexual act involved in the relationship.

— 1900 Jenny Lind Avenue, Fort Smith, Ark.