Faith and Repentance: The Inseparable Link in the Book of Acts

The Bible teaches that faith and repentance are inseparably linked as two sides of the same “saving response” to the gospel. In the book of Acts—as elsewhere in the New Testament—sometimes only repentance is mentioned (2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 17:30; 26:20), and other times only faith is (4:4; 10:43; 13:48; 14:1; 16:31). But regardless of which is emphasized in a given passage, the presence of one implies the existence of the other, for a sinner cannot repent without believing, and he cannot believe without repenting.  

This inseparable link is reflected in Acts 20:21 where the apostle Paul states that he testified “to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” In the original Greek, “repentance” (metanoia) and “faith” (pistis) are connected by the conjunction “and” (kai), and the definite article precedes only the first noun. The use of only one article to govern both nouns indicates a unity between “repentance” and “faith.” As Greek grammarian Daniel Wallace explains:  

The evidence suggests that, in Luke’s usage, saving faith includes repentance. In those texts which speak simply of faith, a “theological shorthand” seems to be employed: Luke envisions repentance as the inceptive act of which the entirety may be called [faith]. Thus, for Luke, conversion is not a two-step process, but one step, faith—but the kind of faith that includes repentance. 

This inseparable link is also reflected in how conversions are portrayed in the book of Acts: Peter exhorts Cornelius and the Gentiles to “believe” (Acts 10:43), and later they are described as having come to “repentance” (Acts 11:18); while Paul exhorts the men of Athens to “repent” (Acts 17:30), and in response some of them are said to have “believed” (Acts 17:34). 

What, then, must a sinner do to be saved? Repent and believe. Anything less falls short of a “saving response” to the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Advertisements

8 responses to this post.

  1. What, then, must a sinner do to be saved? Repent and believe. Anything less falls short of a “saving response” to the Good News of Jesus Christ.

    Amen! If only the wider “church” community would grasp this eternal truth.

  2. Great post here! Clear and to the point. Lordship salvation is a Biblical and a fundamental issue. The Reformed community got this one right.

  3. Short and sweet. Great post Matt.

  4. Posted by Juan on May 23, 2007 at 2:37 am

    Caleb,

    Why only did the reformed community get it right? Not sure what I am missing.

    Juan

  5. Juan,

    I was speaking of those at DTS who are not Reformed in their soteriology. The seem to really oppose this teaching on repentance . This was one of the major points in MacArthur’s two works (G According to Jesus and Faith Works). Ryrie and Hodges of course did not agree.

    Sadly many Reformed people don’t realize that their are dispensationalists who are 5 point Calvinists as well. I would imagine that’s because DTS is known for their excellence in languages and their detailed studies in eschatology. Many of those dispies attacked MacArthur and Boice for this “Reformed” understanding of faith.

    I hope that clarifies my comment.

    CK

  6. Juan,

    I won’t speak for Caleb but I think he’s just a little excited after coming back from the FIRE conference. Historically it has been the larger reformed community that has been unwavering on the necessity of faith and repentance. Although terms like “reformed” and their opposites seem to have ever shifting meanings depending on who you talk to. I now blame my brother Caleb for getting us off topic.

    Blessings

  7. Paul,

    Not totally off target as Matt’s post is basically a great summary of MacArthur’s “the Gospel According to Jesus” and “Faith Works.” MacArthur’s thesis was exegetically on target. Ryrie and Hodges would clearly disagree with Matt’s post above. Hence the connection. :)

    I am a little excited after coming back from the FIRE conference. I will try to keep this on topic.

    I would agree with you Paul “historically it has been the larger reformed community that has been unwavering on the necessity of faith and repentance.”

    Matt’s exegesis proved the correctness of that historical view.

    Now that Paul is back i will have to watch my rabbit trials.

    Together for the gospel

  8. Posted by Juan on May 23, 2007 at 10:07 am

    I get it now and yes I have to agree with the concept. The way I look at it if you do not repent what is the use?

    Juan

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: