What about "Repentance"
in the Old Testament?
The Old Testament Hebrew word related to repentance has a broader
focus than the New Testament Greek word. Though the idea of
"repentance from sin" is often present, the word is more
frequently used in reference to a person changing his actions
("repenting") for other reasons.
In the Old Testament sense, a person can change his actions because
he has compassion or pity on someone who has been affected by those
actions - even though the actions, themselves, are not wrong. He
can also change his actions, when the circumstances requiring those
actions have changed.
In this sense, even God can "repent." He can change his
actions toward people, when their actions (and attitudes) have
changed toward him. He can bring judgment upon a nation, when it
rebels against him... yet later, if that nation turns back to him, he
can "repent" by taking away the judgment and replacing it
In the New Testament, the word "repentance" is used in this
broader sense, in Hebrews 12:17.
[NOTE: Sometimes there may be a greater focus on the change of mind,
rather than the change of action. This could be a
change to a "positive" state of mind (related to comfort
and encouragement). Or it could be a change to a "negative"
state of mind (related to sorrow, regret and pity) - comparable to
the word "remorse," which is examined in a separate part of
Dennis Hinks © 2001
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