The word ”repent” is used multiple times throughout the Bible, but it’s the above verse that is the most popular one among the reformed believers since it might sound like we don’t have to do anything at all but just sit around and wait for GOD to perhaps inject us with a shot of ”repentance”. If the reformed position is true, it would be God’s fault that not everyone repents because apparently he doesn’t give everyone the possibility to do so. Only those he gives repentance can apparently repent…? This begs the question: Why does the Biblical teach ”repent or perish” if the elect can’t perish, and the non-elect can’t repent?
The Bible, however, tells us that God commands ALL MEN EVERY WHERE to repent (Acts 17:30), and not just ”the elect”.
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to ALL MEN,12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world
Here is the verse in NKJV:
25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will GRANT them repentance, so that they may know the truth (NKJV)
If God predestined people to be elect/non-elect from the creation of the world as calvinists teach, he would not place the elect among ”those who are in opposition”, but he would rather place the non-elect in the rebellious group. Yet we are told that it’s those in opposition who will perhaps be granted repentance. The uncertainty (the ”perhaps”) depends on if they have truly fled from iniquity or not. Apparently the others – those who in humility correct those who are in opposition – are already among Jesus’ sheep. This means that the winning team can expand even further if more people stay corrected. The verses prior to this verse explain what one must do to be among those who will have the chance to be granted repentance. Apart from purging oneself from sin, one is requested to: ”Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of ”a pure heart”. It’s the pure heart that God looks after, and which is judged when it comes to granting repentance or not.
To GRANT someone repentance
The word that NKJV and many other Bible versions translate as ”grant” is a translation from the Greek word δίδωμι (didōmi Strong’s 1325), and apart from grant it can also mean give, permit, bestow, let have, extend, furnish, entrust, etc. Here are some examples where didōmi is translated ”grant”:
Acts 11:17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles GRANTED repentance unto life.
Above we can read that ”gentiles” are granted repentance unto life. We know that not all gentiles will be saved, but if we understand ”granting repentance” to mean what it says – as in granting, offering, extending repentance – then we avoid making this verse collide with many other verses which show us that we are all requested to repent. The verse suggests that all the gentiles will be granted (as in offered) the repentance that is unto life, but naturally only those who truly repent and truly love Jesus Christ will be forgiven.
We can compare it with the parable about the wedding banquet for the King’s son, which was offered to everyone. Those who were on the initial guest list chose not to come, but the invitation was extended to others and some of them chose to accept the invitation and arrived at the banquet. Those who chose to go to the banquet with proper wedding clothes were called ”chosen” – they are the special elect. We should not reinterpret the above verse to say ”giving repentance to the gentiles by force regardless of their behavior, and not giving them any opportunity to say no”.
Mark 10:37 They said unto him, GRANT unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.
The disciples requested to get seats next to Jesus in his kingdom, and asked Jesus to grant them what they wished for. He replied that he had no authority to promise such a thing.
Rev. 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.21 TO HIM THAT OVERCOMETH will I GRANT to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
IF any man opens the door when Jesus knocks on the door… This clearly shows that it’s up to us to listen to Jesus and open the door for him. IF we choose to do so, he will come in and eat with us. Here we can see that the condition for sitting with Jesus on his throne is to OVERCOME, just like Jesus overcame by accomplishing his mission on earth and held out to the end. ”And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved”, Matt. 10:22.
Acts 4:29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and GRANT unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.
The above is from a prayer by Peter and other disciples, and it’s not uncommon for christians to ask God in a prayer to grant them various benefits which could aid them in their daily lives or in their pursuit to spread the gospel. Praying in itself is of course useless in a world that God has predestined and orchestrated, but that would not be the God of the Bible.
Acts 14:3 Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and GRANTED signs and wonders to be done by their hands.4 But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.
God ”granted” them signs and wonders to be done by their hands. This doesn’t mean that he forced/predestined people to place their hands on people to heal and cast demons out of them, but he enabled them to have this power. We can read that part of the city was divided, because not all of them were on the apostles’ side. Clearly that would be against God’s will, because he would want everyone to be on the apostles’ side.
See also Rev. 19:8, 2 Ti 1:18, Eph. 3:16, Rom. 15:5 and Luke 1:74
If God no longer draws/calls people due to their choice to harden their hearts and turn their backs on him, then they will not be granted repentance. Repentance is commanded by God to ALL men everywhere, and it will be granted to truly repentant hearts (Acts 5:31; 11:18; 17:30-31; 20:21; 26:20; Rom. 2:4; 2 Ti. 2:25; 2 Pe. 3:9).
I can grant someone permission to come to my house, and I can also require that certain conditions must be met before a person can actually enter my house. I might suggest that the person must first tell me if he/she is actually coming, and I might also require a certain dress code. Granting someone the permission to come doesn’t mean that there are no conditions involved. It only means that had it not been for my offer, the person would not have been able to come.
2 Tim. 2:5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
The word competing (”strive for masteries” in KJV) suggests that there is something that we must DO, and that we are also requested to work hard to achieve something that we won’t get unless we strive. We are also warned that we won’t get our crown unless we compete according to the RULES. This suggests that there is a condition that must be met before we can get our promised crown, and that is to make sure to work according to the set rules. Paul doesn’t simply inform Timothy (and the rest of us) that we are all predestined to always obey the rules, because if that were the case his serious warnings would be a waste of time.
7 Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.—
Paul’s admonishments indicate that he hopes to direct Timothy on the straight path, which further means that Paul’s eager warnings might make a difference for Timothy’s life and that all things are not predestined to happen beforehand. We can still change the outcome by prayers and sincere warnings.
10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.—
If people were predestined to be elect from the creation of the world, Paul should know that it’s not really immensely important for him to ”endure all things” for their sake, since absolutely nothing will make them lose their status as chosen elect that will never lose their salvation no matter what.
12 If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
IF we endure? Yes, we are promised to reign with him IF IF IF we endure, and IF we deny him he will also deny us. It doesn’t say that he will deny us and therefore we have no other choice but to deny him since we are predestined to be among the non-elect who by nature always deny him. God is true to his words (including promises of judgments) because he cannot deny himself.
14 Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.
Apparently hearers are not chosen to be elect/non-elect from the creation of the world, since our unwise talk can affect people to the extent that they can be totally ruined.
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
If we are not able to be approved of God, we are doomed. That’s why we should be diligent to present ourselves approved before God. WE are the ones that must do this. Jesus won’t do the job for us. We are not told here that we WILL be approved by God no matter what, but we are told ”BE DILIGENT…”.
16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. 17 And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, 18 who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.
Hymenaeus and Philetus were two men who were overthrowing the faith of certain people due to the way they preached. This is evidence of that God in no way decided whom to save and whom to damn from the creation of the world, because then no one would be able to overthrow anyone’s faith in God. For the same reason, this verse is also evidence of that unconditional eternal salvation is not true.
19 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
We know that a seal can be broken (like the stone that was ”sealed” before Jesus’ grave), and the ”seal” spoken about here is the assurance that God knows those who are his (and his sheep are those who decide to follow Jesus), and that those who mention Christ’s name should depart from iniquity. Being engaged in iniquity is always against God’s will.
20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore IF ANYONE CLEANSES HIMSELF from the latter, he will be a vessel for HONOR, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Above we can see that we are asked to cleanse ourselves (from iniquity), and if we do we will be vessels of honor. This is an opportunity for all of us. Naturally we don’t have the authority to forgive ourselves our sins, but the request to cleanse ourselves means that we must confess our sins, repent from an earnest heart and thus be cleansed/regenerated by God. We are the ones who get the ball rolling. IF we ”cleanse ourselves” we will be sanctified, useful and prepared for every good work. We are requested to pursue righteousness, which means that we are not simply promised that we will be injected with some of Jesus’ righteousness, but we are actually asked to flee ”youthful lusts” and live righteous lives ourselves. WE are requested to have a pure heart, because we can’t hide behind Jesus.
25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
We have already covered v. 25. Young’s Literal says in v. 26 ”having been caught by him at his will”. This means that Satan’s will is a force to count on, and Paul also says elsewhere that we are slaves to the one we obey. If we obey sin, we actually obey Satan because he is the one who wants us to feel comfortable in our sins. This again shows that God’s will doesn’t always happen, unless we believe that Satan and God work together to ensnare people in sin. Fortunately, we are told that we can escape the snare of the devil, and we have the chance to be granted repentance – if we let ourselves be corrected, if we truly ”cleanse ourselves” and if we call on God from a ”pure heart”, as per the verses just before.
Repentance means that our PAST sins are forgiven, and obviously not our present and/or future sins
2 Pet 1:9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been CLEANSED FROM HIS PAST SINS.
Romans 3:24, 25 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS THAT ARE PAST, through the forbearance of God.
We are asked to repent (and be baptized) for the remission of sins and AFTER that we will be given the Holy Spirit
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost
True repentance is a way to get SALVATION
Our own godly sorrow might lead to repentance:
2 Cor 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance LEADING TO salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces DEATH. 11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
Also christians might choose to sin and even choose to not forgive a brother. If he/she does and refuses to repent, our Father in heaven will not forgive them:
Mat 6:14,15 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But IF you do not forgive men their sins, YOUR FATHER WILL NOT FORGIVE YOUR SINS.
Mat 18:32-35 Then the master called the servant in. You wicked servant, he said, I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you? In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. —This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.
Also christians might choose to disown Jesus before men, and if they refuse to repent they will be disowned by their Father in heaven. If a person naturally disowns Jesus, it might be an indication of that this person has not repented since he isn’t able to endure hardship. We are not able to be Jesus disciples unless we take up our cross and carry it, and disowning Jesus means that we don’t carry our cross.
Mat 10:33 But whoever disowns me before men, I WILL DISOWN HIM before my Father in heaven.–Mat 26:69-75Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
2 Chron. 15:2 The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, HE WILL FORSAKE YOU.
Mark 1:15 And saying The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand REPENT ye and believe the gospel
Luke 13:3 + 5 I tell you Nay but EXCEPT YE REPENT ye shall all likewise PERISH
Mark 6:12 And they went out and preached that men should REPENT
Acts 20:19 Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:—21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, REPENTANCE TOWARD GOD, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Acts 26:15 — I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, THAT THEY SHOULD REPENT AND TURN TO GOD, AND DO WORKS MEET FOR REPENTANCE.
If we are not forgiven we are not saved. We need to be repent in order to get our sins blotted out and be FORGIVEN
Apparently the rich man who said this had NOT repented before he ended up in hell:
Luke 16:30 And he said Nay father Abraham but if one went unto them from the dead they will repent
Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore and be converted THAT YOUR SINS MAY BE BLOTTED OUT when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lorddd
Acts 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness and pray God if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee
1 John 1:9 IF we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us OUR SINS, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness
Isaiah 55:7 LET THE WICKED FORSAKE HIS WAY, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him RETURN unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Proverbs 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and FORSAKETH them shall have mercy
Luke 17:3 Take heed to yourselves If thy brother trespass against thee rebuke him and if he repent forgive him 4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day and seven times in a day turn again to thee saying I repent thou shalt forgive him
2 Cor. 12:21 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
Luke 15:7 I say unto you that ”likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance”—10 Likewise I say unto you there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth—32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
Rev. 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen and repent and do the first WORKS or else I will come unto thee quickly and will REMOVE thy candlestick out of his place except thou repent
Rev. 2:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication and she repented not. 22 Behold I will cast her into a bed and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation except they repent of their DEEDS
Rev. 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard and hold fast and REPENT. If therefore thou shalt not watch I will come on thee as a thief and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee
Rev 3:19 As many as __ I love I rebuke and chasten BE ZEALOUS THEREFORE AND REPENT.
Rev. 16:9 And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. 10And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, 11And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their DEEDS.
Rev. 2:16 REPENT or else I will come unto thee quickly and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth
Early church fathers
1 Clement 7:5 Let us review all the generations in turn, and learn how from generation to generation the Master hath given a place for repentance unto them that desire to turn to Him.
Justin Martyr, The first apology, Chapter 28 For He fore-knows that some are to be saved by repentance, some even that are perhaps not yet born. In the beginning He made the human race with the power of thought and of choosing the truth and doing right, so that all men are without excuse before God; for they have been born rational and contemplative.