Matthew 3:2 - Repent, What Is That?

Mat.3:2: Repent, What Is That?

CONTENT; What's in the verse; Translations; Paraphrase; Word 

Mat 3:2 (KJV)  And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven 
is at hand. 

Mat 3:2 (NLT)  "Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the 
Kingdom of Heaven is near."  

Mat 3:2 (TLB)  "Turn from your sins. . . turn to God. . . for 
the Kingdom of Heaven is coming soon." 

"Repentance" (metanoia, Gk.) means "to turn" from sin to God 
(cf. 2 Cor. 7:10, note). [Believer's SB] 

To repent means to change the mind, to turn from sin and toward 
God. [Disciple SB] 

CONTEXT; What's around the verse; Overview; Topic:

John predicted Messiah's appearance, and preached baptism as a 
sign of repentance (3:1-12). Christ was baptized to identify Himself 
with John's righteous message (vv. 13-17). The Spirit then led Jesus 
into the wilderness, where He overcame temptation and demonstrated 
His commitment to God (4:1-11). Thus prepared, Jesus began to preach 
(vv. 12-17), called His first disciples (vv. 18-22), and demonstrated 
His God-given authority by miracles of healing (vv. 23-25). [The 
365-Day Devotional Commentary] 


John the Baptist prepares the way for Jesus  (3:1-12)
John Prepares the Way -- Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-18; John 1:19-28
The Preaching of John the Baptist
The proclamation of John the Baptist  (3:1-12)
Thunder in the Desert!  (3:1-17)

CROSS REFERENCES; What's in verses elsewhere.

Matthew 4:17 (KJV)  From that time Jesus began to preach, and to 
say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  

Matthew 5:3 (KJV)  Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is 
the kingdom of heaven.  

Matthew 6:33 (KJV)  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and 
his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  

Matthew 18:3 (KJV)  And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye 
be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter 
into the kingdom of heaven.  

John 3:3 (KJV)  Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, 
verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the 
kingdom of God.  

John 3:5 (KJV)  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, 
Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into 
the kingdom of God.  

Acts 2:38 (KJV)  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.  

Acts 3:19 (KJV)  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 Lord;  

Acts 20:21 (KJV)  Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the 
Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.  

Acts 26:20 (KJV)  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 

2 Peter 3:9 (KJV)  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, 
as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not 
willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 

COMMENTARY / APPLICATION: Moving From The Head To The Heart
What is God teaching here? What does it teach about Jesus?


John the Baptist's message of repentance was the same as that of 
God's earlier prophets (Jer 35:15). John announced the nearness of 
God's kingdom, called for ethical fruit in keeping with repentance, 
and baptized in water as a sign of repentance. [Disciple SB] 

Repentance means doing an about-face--a 180-degree turn--from the 
kind of self-centeredness that leads to wrong actions such as lying, 
cheating, stealing, gossiping, taking revenge, abusing, and indulging in 
sexual immorality. A person who repents stops rebelling and begins 
following God's way of living prescribed in his Word. The first step in 
turning to God is to admit your sin, as John urged. Then God will 
receive you and help you live the way he wants. Remember that only God 
can get rid of sin. He doesn't expect us to clean up our lives 
before we come to him. [Life Application SB] 

Repentance has always been a part of the Christian Gospel. Not 
"repentance" as being sorry for sin, or an effort at self-reform. In 
Scripture repentance is a change of heart and mind about God that bears 
fruit in a holy life. Without repentance there is no salvation, simply 
because whenever Jesus enters a life by faith, He does just such a 
transforming work in the human heart. [The 365-Day Devotional Commentary] 

When you wash dirty hands, the results are immediately visible. 
But repentance happens inside with a cleansing that isn't seen right 
away. So John used a symbolic action that people could see: baptism. 
The Jews used baptism to initiate converts, so John's audience was 
familiar with the rite. Here, baptism was used as a sign of repentance 
and forgiveness. Repent means "to turn," implying a change in 
behavior. It is turning from sin toward God. Have you repented of sin in 
your life? Can others see the difference it makes in you? A changed 
life with new and different behavior makes your repentance real and 
visible. [Life Application SB] 

He who is truly penitent does not forget his past sins, and grow 
careless about them as soon as he has obtained forgiveness.... astonished  
that he should have continued in rebellion so long. He renews his 
repentance toward God, while he grasps more decidedly the hand of Jesus 
Christ, and finds that repentance is a daily, continued exercise, 
lasting until mortality is swallowed up of life. ST11-26-94 

Walking in newness of life, which is daily repentance toward 
God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. RH02-23-97 


"The kingdom of heaven" is a Semitic idiom in which "heaven" is 
substituted for the divine name (see "against heaven" in Luke 15:18). This 
form of expression would appeal to Matthew's Jewish readers more than 
"kingdom of God," a phrase found in Matthew only four times. For the 
development of this concept, see 4:17; 11:11-13; 12:28; 19:23-25. 
[Believer's SB] 

Matthew preferred the phrase "kingdom of heaven'' because of his 
Jewish audience. At the time of the Exile (after 587 BC), Jews 
refrained from speaking the name of God, fearing blasphemy or taking the 
name of the Lord in vain. [Disciple SB] 

Kingdom of  heaven: A phrase found only in Matthew, where it 
occurs 33 times. Mark and  Luke refer to "the kingdom of God," a term 
Matthew uses only four times (see  note on Mk 11:30). The kingdom of 
heaven is the rule of God and is both a  present reality and a future 
hope. The idea of God's kingdom is central to Jesus' teaching and is 
mentioned 50 times in Matthew alone. NIV SB 

Kingdom of heaven. Christ made it clear that the kingdom He 
established at His first advent was not the kingdom of glory. That would 
only be, He said, "when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and 
all the holy angels with him" (Matt. 25:31). Nevertheless, Jesus 
admitted before Pilate that He was indeed a "king" (John 18:33-37); in 
fact, this was His purpose in coming into this world (John 18:37). But 
He explained further that this "kingdom" was "not of this world" 
(John 18:36). The kingdom He came to establish "cometh not with 
observation," but is a reality within the hearts of those who believe in Him 
and become the sons of God. [SDA Commentary] 

The kingdom of God is God's rule in the human heart. When we 
allow the Lord to be master of our lives, we enter the kingdom of God 
and look forward in faith to its final establishment. [Disciple SB] 


"At hand" means that God is about to act to bring both judgment 
("baptize with fire") and salvation ("baptize with the Holy Spirit"). 
[Believer's SB] 


Those who want to relate to God and experience the immediacy of 
the reign of God in and through Christ need a radical change in 
their lives. John the Baptist made that clear. His call for repentance 
still needs to be heard today. No one is ready to come under the 
sovereign rule of God until there is a change of attitude and action with 
regard to sin and service. There must be a willingness to give up 
everything to experience the reality of the kingdom of God through the 
immediacy of Christ's ruling authority. [Disciple SB]