Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 1 Study # 5
Lincolnton, NC
December 4, 2005

<210><211> AV Translation: 3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; 1901 ASV Translation: 3 And he came into all the region round about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance unto remission of sins; Luke's Record: Special Note: [It is an interesting observation that the New Testament never says "repent of your sins". The only texts that come anywhere close to that kind of statement are Paul's statement in 2 Corinthians 12:21 that is translated "have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed", Acts 8:22 (where Peter exhorts Simon Magnus to "repent from" his wickedness to see if God would forgive the thought of his heart), Hebrews 6:1 (where the "repentance" is "from" so-called "good" works), and a handful of references in Revelation where men "repented not from their deeds" (2:21, 22; 9:20, 21 and 16:11). Repentance is addressed with several different Greek prepositions (signaling distinct nuances of meaning). The translation of Paul's comment in 2 Corinthians, for example, uses the preposition "epi" which may well mean "upon the foundation of". In other words, Paul may well have been saying that the uncleanness, etc. was an irrefutable foundation that proved the absence of a repentant attitude rather than saying that the people needed to "repent of" those things. The significance is profound. If "repentance" is "of sins", then one must stop sinning; but if "repentance" is "toward God" (Acts 20:21), then one can stop sinning. The difference is crucial. Repentance always, in the Bible, has God in its "focused" view and is represented as a self-humiliation coupled to confidence in God, and never has "sin" in view with a focus upon "personal effort to stop". In other words, I am making no commitment to "stopping" any behavior at all when I "repent"; rather, I am seeking divine grace to enable godly behavior when I repent. Thus, the statement "I repent" does not mean "I won't do that any more". It means "I have turned to God for the grace necessary to address my behavior with success". It is on this latter basis that one can insist upon "works meet for repentance". One cannot turn to God for grace to address a certain kind of behavior and not get grace to be successful. If one cannot succeed, it means that he has not received the power of God for his success and that can only mean one thing: he has not sought God's grace -- for God is willing to impart the power when He sees as little "faith" as could be compared to a grain of mustard seed.]