Best Commentaries: The best deal on the best commentaries: 50% off in July. Save now or 888-568-3589.

48 Scriptures on Repentance (Something We’re All Called To)

graphic of a woman holding the Bible and an arrow around her representing repentance

Repentance is a change of mind.” That was the first definition of repentance I heard early in my Christian life. It was important to me that I knew what it meant to repent because the Bible calls us to do it, as you’ll see in the Scriptures below (jump down to verses).

The meaning of repentance isn’t something you can not know but not care that you don’t know, like the order of judges in the Old Testament. (I can tell you who most of them are, but chronology? Ummm, I’d get a 60 percent on that quiz.)

Later, I heard that repentance means turning around—as if you decided you were headed the wrong way, so you do an about-face and go the other way. This visual description stuck with me because it shows the change of mind and the resulting change of action.

So it’s not like a six-year-old’s oh-so-cute-but-oh-so-insincere apology spat out the nanosecond they’re caught raiding the pantry for candy after being told, “No” (several times).

What’s on their mind is avoiding consequences.

But sometimes we, as adult Christians, say sorry the same way, and that’s not repentance.

So, what is repentance?

The Lexham Bible Dictionary (get it free) defines repentance like this:

“Repentance” refers to an event in which an individual attains a divinely provided new understanding of their behavior and feels compelled to change that behavior and begin a new relationship with God (Heb 6:1; Acts 20:21).1

The LBD also says this about the word repentance in the Old Testament:

No Hebrew word is an exact equivalent for the English term “repentance.” Repentance was expressed by a number of different actions that show a change in thinking and attitude toward sin and God. Repentance may be demonstrated by:

  • a public display of mourning over sin, such as weeping (Ezra 10:1), tearing garments and/or hair (Ezra 9:3), and wearing sackcloth (Joel 1:13)
  • making restitution for wrongs committed (1 Chr 21:22–26)
  • abasing oneself before the wronged party (Gen 33:3)

The Hebrew word that most closely approximates “repent” or “repentance” is translated into English as “return,” which basically means “to turn around and go in the opposite direction.” In theological contexts, the implication is to turn from a road characterized by rebellion toward God and to a road characterized by obedience. The emphasis is upon actions that necessarily proceed from turning one’s orientation toward God.2

Though there isn’t a Hebrew word for repentance, these Old Testament passages reflect the idea:

  • Exodus 32: 14—And Yahweh relented concerning the disaster that he had threatened to do to his people.
  • 2 Chronicles 7:14—Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and will pray and will seek my face and will turn from their evil ways, then I myself shall hear from the heavens and will forgive their sins and heal their land.
  • Ezekiel 18:21–23—But if the wicked returns from all of his sins that he has done and he keeps all of my statutes and he does justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die! All of his transgressions that he committed will not be remembered against him. Through his righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I delight by any means in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord Yahweh, and not at his turning from his way, so that he lives?

The Greek word for repentance in the Bible is μετανοέω. Let’s look at how a couple of Bible dictionaries define it:

  • to think differently or afterwards, i.e., reconsider (mor. feel compunction)3
  • to know after, change one’s mind, repent4

Here are verses on repentance so you can read them for yourself.

Tip: I found these with a tap in the Bible Word Study tool in the free Logos Bible study app for mobile, web, or desktop.

Scriptures on repentance from the New Testament

1. Matthew 3:2

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Explore this verse in Logos

2. Matthew 3:8

Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Explore this verse in Logos

3. Matthew 3:11

I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Explore this verse in Logos

4. Matthew 4:17

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Explore this verse in Logos

5. Matthew 11:20–21

Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” (See also Luke 10:13, where these words of Jesus are repeated.) Explore these verses in Logos

6. Matthew 12:41

The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. Explore this verse in Logos

7. Matthew 1:15

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. Explore this verse in Logos

8. Mark 1:4

John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Explore this verse in Logos

9. Mark 6:12

So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. Explore this verse in Logos

10. Luke 3:3

And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Explore this verse in Logos

11. Luke 3:8

Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you , God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Explore this verse in Logos

12. Luke 5:32

I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. Explore this verse in Logos

Logos Bible Study Platform: The Free Bible App for Pro-level Bible Study

13. Luke 10:13

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. Explore this verse in Logos

14. Luke 11:32

The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. Explore this verse in Logos

15. Luke 13:3

No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Explore this verse in Logos

16. Luke 13:5

No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (Note: Yes, that’s right, those two verses are exactly the same!) Explore this verse in Logos

17. Luke 15:7

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Explore this verse in Logos

18. Luke 15:10

Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Explore this verse in Logos

19. Luke 16:30

And he said, “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” Explore this verse in Logos

20. Luke 17:3

Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. Explore this verse in Logos

21. Luke 17:4

And if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, “I repent,” you must forgive him. Explore this verse in Logos

22. Luke 24:47

And that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Explore this verse in Logos

23. Acts 2:38

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Explore this verse in Logos

24. Acts 3:19

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out. Explore this verse in Logos

25. Acts 8:22

Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. Explore this verse in Logos

26. Acts 11:18

When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” Explore this verse in Logos

27. Acts 13:24

Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. Explore this verse in Logos

28. Acts 17:30

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. Explore this verse in Logos

29. Acts 19:4

And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” Explore this verse in Logos

30. Acts 20:21

Testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Explore this verse in Logos

31. Acts 5:31

God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. Explore this verse in Logos

32. Acts 26:20

But declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. Explore this verse in Logos

33. Romans 2:4

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? Explore this verse in Logos

34. 2 Corinthians 7:9–10

As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. Explore these verses in Logos

35. 2 Corinthians 12:21

I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced. Explore this verse in Logos

36. 2 Timothy 2:25

Correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth. Explore this verse in Logos

37. Hebrews 6:1

Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God. Explore this verse in Logos

38. Hebrews 6:6

And then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. Explore this verse in Logos

39. Hebrews 12:17

For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. Explore this verse in Logos

40. 2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. Explore this verse in Logos

41. Revelation 2:5

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Explore this verse in Logos

42. Revelation 2:16

Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. Explore this verse in Logos

43. Revelation 2:21–22

I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works. Explore these verses in Logos

44. Revelation 3:3

Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Explore this verse in Logos

45. Revelation 3:19

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Explore this verse in Logos

46. Revelation 9:20–21

The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts. Explore these verses in Logos

47. Revelation 16:9

They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory. Explore this verse in Logos

48. Revelation 16:11

And cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds. Explore this verse in Logos

Logos Bible Study Platform: The Free Bible App for Pro-level Bible Study

***

Get the Logos app free today—it’s the only Bible app you’ll ever need! It comes with Bible reading plans, free commentaries, and more, plus tools like Bible Word Study that help you dig deeper into Scriptures anywhere, anytime.

Here’s how I studied the word repentance in Logos (and you can too):

  • Click on Bible Word Study from the menu bar.
  • Type “repentance,” then hit return or enter on your keyboard. (For the mobile app, tap go.)
  • Click on one side of the ring to see the verses using repentance.
  • Click on the other side of the ring to see the verses using repent.

Try Bible Word Study for yourself! Type any word in the box at the top of the Bible Word Study panel, then hit return or enter on your keyboard. (For the mobile app, tap go.)

What Is Repentance? A Moving Description by Charles Octavius Boothe
Is Repentance a “Change of Mind” or Something Different?

Logos Bible study app (free edition)

Lexham Bible Dictionary

Lexham Bible Dictionary

Regular price: $0.00

Add to cart
Lent: The Season of Repentance and Renewal (The Fullness of Time)

Lent: The Season of Repentance and Renewal (The Fullness of Time)

Regular price: $14.99

Add to cart
How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth

Regular price: $13.99

Add to cart
I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible

I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible

Regular price: $8.99

Add to cart
‘Return To Me’: A Biblical Theology of Repentance (New Studies in Biblical Theology)

‘Return To Me’: A Biblical Theology of Repentance (New Studies in Biblical Theology)

Regular price: $19.99

Add to cart
The New Strong’s Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible

The New Strong’s Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible

Regular price: $12.49

Add to cart
Theological Lexicon of the New Testament | TLNT (3 vols.)

Theological Lexicon of the New Testament | TLNT (3 vols.)

Regular price: $69.99

Add to cart

Bonus: 3 quotes about repentance from church history

Cranmer’s definition of the true Christian faith

The very sure and lively Christian faith is not only to believe all things of God that are contained in holy Scripture, but also is an earnest trust and confidence in God, that he does regard us, and has care of us, as the father of the child whom he loves, and that he will be merciful unto us for his only son’s sake, and that we have our Saviour Christ, our perpetual advocate and priest, in whose only merits, oblation, and suffering we trust that our offences are continually washed and purged, whenever we, repenting truly, return to him with our whole heart, steadfastly determining with ourselves, through his grace, to obey and serve him in keeping his commandments, and never to turn back again to sin. Such is the true faith that the Scripture does so much commend.

—Thomas Cranmer

The king who embraces with love

I consider myself as the most wretched of men, full of sores and corruptions, and as one who has committed all sorts of crimes against his King; moved with deep sorrow, I confess to Him all my wickedness, I ask His forgiveness, I abandon myself in His hands, that He may do with me what He pleases. This King, full of mercy and goodness, very far from chastising me, embraces me with love, makes me to eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the key of His treasures; He converses and delights Himself with me unceasingly, in a thousand and a thousand ways, and treats me in all respects as His favorite. It is thus that I consider myself from time to time in His Holy Presence.

—Brother Lawrence

Cranmer recants of his insincere writings

Now I come to the great thing that so much troubles my conscience, more than anything that ever I did or said in my whole life. And that is, the setting abroad of writings contrary to the truth; which now here I renounce and refuse as things written with my hand contrary to the truth that I thought in my heart, and written for fear of death and to save my life if it might be. And that is, all such bills and papers that I have written or signed with my hand since my degradation; wherein I have written many things untrue. And since my hand offended, writing contrary to my heart, my hand shall therefore first be punished; for, may I come to the fire, it shall be first burned.

—Thomas Cranmer
Logos Bible Study Platform: The Free Bible App for Pro-level Bible Study
  1. Brendan Kennedy, “Repentance,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).
  2. Kennedy, “Repentance.”
  3. James Strong, A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009), 47.
  4. Ceslas Spicq and James D. Ernest, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), 471.
Share
Written by
Mary Jahnke

Mary Jahnke has a background in marketing, especially for Christian education, and serves as a content marketing strategist for Faithlife. She has experience in church communications and is always looking for helpful knowledge to share.

View all articles

Your email address has been added

Written by Mary Jahnke