Repentance is the feeling and act in which one recognizes and tries to right a wrong, or gain forgiveness from someone whom he wronged. In religious contexts it usually refers to repenting for a sin against God. It always includes an admission of guilt, and also includes at least one of the following:
- a solemn promise or resolve not to repeat the offense;
- an attempt to make restitution for the wrong,
- or in some way to reverse the harmful effects of the wrong where possible.
In Biblical Hebrew, the idea of repentance is represented by two verbs: שוב shuv (to return) and נח�? nicham (to feel sorrow).
In the New Testament, the word translated as ‘repentance’ is the Greek word μετάνοια (metanoia), “after/behind one’s mind,” which is a compound word of the preposition ‘meta’ (after, with), and the verb ‘noeo’ (to perceive, to think, the result of perceiving or observing). In this compound word the preposition combines the two meanings of time and change, which may be denoted by ‘after’ and ‘different’; so that the whole compound means: ‘to think differently after’. Metanoia is therefore primarily an after-thought, different from the former thought; a change of mind accompanied by regret and change of conduct, “change of mind and heart”, or, “change of consciousness”. One of the key descriptions of repentance in the New Testament is the parable of the prodigal son found in Luke 15:11.