Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 25, 1964

To Have Another Mind

Jim Everett

There are basically two Greek words translated repent in the New Testament; these are metanaeo and metamelomai. Perhaps the best way to understand what a person does when he repents is to define the words from a Greek lexicon and from their usage in passages of the New Testament.

(1) Metanaeo — to change one's mind, to repent, to change one's mind for the better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one's past sins (Thayer). This word stresses the mental attitude and direction of the person involved.

(2) Metamelomai — it is a care to one afterwards, it repents one, to repent one's self (Thayer). This word seems to suggest the idea of mental anguish or sorrow resulting from the consciousness of wrong deeds.

To stop here without a consideration of the way these words are used in different contexts and passages would be to do a great injustice to the subject under consideration. Notice the following passage where a clear distinction is made: such distinction defines what repentance is and what accompanies it.

Matt. 21:28-32:

v. 29, "He answered and said I will not; but afterward he repented, and went." (Emph. JE) The main point of this passage is not repentance but, "Whither of the twain did the will of the Father?" Nevertheless there are certain observations that we can make about repentance from its use in this context,

(1) If the first son had not changed his mind it is unlikely that he would have gone to work in his father's vineyard.

(2)If the first son had said he had repented (changed his mind) but still refused to go, he would be in the same category of the second son (i.e. was not doing the will of the father).

(3) Hence, it is virtually impossible to separate repentance from action! For, when an honest man changes his mind there will be a change of action.

Acts 26:20:

.. . that they should repent and turn to God..."

(1) Again, repentance (change of mind) and change of course (turning) are inseparable.

(2) If they repent then they turn to God: If they do not turn to God then they do not repent.

There are many other passages which deal with these words in the verb form but let us notice at least two passages that speak of repentance (noun form).

Acts 26:20:

.. and doing works meet (suitable, worthy) for (of) repentance."

Matt. 3:8:

"Bring forth therefore fruit meet (worthy) for repentance."

(1) If one repents there will be works suitable to his change of mind.

(2) This does not mean that when one says he repents we can say, "I don't believe it;" for one cannot see the mind of an individual. However, if one says he repents but continues doing the same thing, we would conclude that there had been no change of mind. Recognizing this, however; that one could repent and bring forth fruits worthy of repentance and become ensnared again and commit the same sin. This would not mean that he hadn't repented to start with but that he needs to repent again. (Note Lk. 17:34, as often as he comes repenting, forgive him. This is individual to individual but the principle remains the same in every case.)

Illustrations Of Observations:

Heb. 7:21 — " the Lord sware and will not repent . .." (there will definitely be no change of mind.)

The only way the Lord can repent is to change His mind or be sorrowful when He sees the action of man. Note Gen. 6:6; I Sam. 15:29 and many other Old Testament scriptures. His repentance does not involve a turning from sin because He remains the same and does no wrong.

Matt. 19:9; 5:32 Repentance is not directly involved in these passages, except that the only way for a child of God to get forgiveness of sin is to repent and pray to God (Acts 8:22). For one to say he repents (changes his mind) without removing himself from his adulterous relationship is foolish — so long as he remains in the sin there can be no change of mind and abhorrence of that condition. He might repent about his condition and change his actions but through the weakness of the flesh again commit adultery, thereby sinning and have to repent again. But many people today, rather than telling such people to repent, are trying to find ways to excuse them. It seems evident that such efforts are due to the emotional appeal and domestic hardships of such unlawful relationships.

On and on and on . . . illustration after illustration could be used for every sin mentioned in the Bible and the result would always be the same.

(1) Repentance is a change of mind.

(2) Where a change of mind occurs, a change of actions must follow.

(3) When one says he repents but doesn't change his actions he is not doing the will of the Father!

— 417 East Groesbeck, Lufkin, Texas