A Biblical Theology of Repentance, part 7: John and Jesus on Repentance

A couple of weeks ago, I began posting portions of a paper I wrote for my Biblical Theology course titled, “That Times of Refreshing May Come: A Biblical Theology of Repentance.” This is the seventh installment. The previous parts can be found at the following: one, two, three, four, five, and six.

A CALL TO RETURN / REPENT IN THE GOSPELS

John the Baptist

The preaching of John the Baptist, in line with the prophetic tradition from which he is associated (cf. Luke 1:16–17), is one of calling the people of Israel back to God: “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matt 3:1–2; cf. Mark 1:4–5; Luke 3:1–3). The people were said to have come en masse, confessing their sins and that forgiveness of sin resulted (Mark 1:5). John’s baptism was a “baptism of repentance” (Matt 3:11), to which Luke adds, “for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3). There is an expression of indignation by John toward the Temple establishment when, upon seeing them coming to him, he warns them to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt 3:7–8; cf. Luke 3:7–9). His ministry was as a forerunner to that of Jesus, who, in contrast to John’s baptism by water, will come with a baptism of the Holy Spirit (Matt 3:11–12).

Jesus

Jesus’ Early Message

John’s message of repentance was authenticated by Jesus. In fact, Jesus not only authenticates John’s message but also appropriates that message himself: “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14–15 emphasis added; cf. Matt 4:17). The expected Jewish kingdom was, in some way, inaugurated with Jesus’ ministry of gospel proclamation. Essential to Jesus’ early message was a link between believing the gospel and repentance. Jesus’ preaching of repentance demonstrated a continuity between his ministry and his forerunners’ ministry.

Jesus’ Commissions His Disciples with a Message of Repentance

After assembling and training a small group of disciples, Jesus then sends them out to the cities of the Galilee. Their task was also to proclaim the gospel and call for people to repent: “So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent” (Mark 6:12; cf. vv. 7–13; also Matt 10:1–15; Luke 9:1–6).

Jesus’ Judgment on Those Who Fail to Respond Appropriately to the Message

Jesus had harsh words for the people who refused to repent in the towns of the Galilee (i.e. “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” Matt 10:6) to which he and his disciples proclaimed their message: “Then [Jesus] began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent” (Matt 11:20 emphasis added). The Galilean towns of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum receive special mention; judgment would be more bearable for non-Israelite towns in the judgment than it would be for them (Matt 11:21–23).

In the face of disbelief among his fellow countrymen in response to his preaching, Jesus exalts Nineveh as a model for the proper response to the message: “The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here” (Matt 12:41 emphasis added; cf. Luke 11:32).

In Luke’s gospel, Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees for his casual associations with “sinners” (Luke 5:30). Jesus’ response to their grumbling shows part of the purpose behind what he intends by fraternizing with such hoodlums. Jesus answers the Pharisees by explaining that “those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31–32). Notice he doesn’t call sinners to righteousness; he calls sinners to repentance.

In contrast, according to Jesus, turning to the Lord in humility is given the distinction as being the sole criteria for greatness in the kingdom of God. When asked by his disciples who would be the greatest in the kingdom, Jesus calls a child and answers, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn [Grk. strephoo] and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:3). The absolutely necessity of humbly turning to God is emphasized by the fact that without this trait people “will never enter” his kingdom.  For Jesus, childlikeness entails a humility that accompanies the wholehearted surrender to God.

Jesus’ Parables with the Message of Repentance

The trio of parables of “lost” items – the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son (Luke 15:1–32) – have repentance as the fundamental issue of concern. To each of the first two parables Jesus adds a final comment that stresses the role of repentance in the parable. Concluding the parable of the lost sheep Jesus says, “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7 emphasis added). As there was rejoicing over the finding of the “lost” sheep there is rejoicing in heaven over one who repents. Likewise, Jesus’ concluding line for the parable of the lost coin has a similar refrain: “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10 emphasis added). Notice again that joy results not because one sinner is “found” but that one sinner repents. Repentance is connected to being “found”.

Although this refrain of heavenly rejoicing is not present in the third in the series of parables (the prodigal son), the power of the story speaks forcefully of the idea of repentance without using the specific term. The son’s words and actions – both his internal change of heart and outward manifestation – clearly articulate what repentance looks like. Meanwhile, the father’s response vividly evokes the same “rejoicing” of Jesus’ concluding lines in the previous parables. Indeed, the combination of the son’s contrition and the father’s joy so powerfully pictures repentance that such concluding remarks would be quite superfluous. Repentance is clearly the idea that undergirds all three stories.

Jesus’ Use of Tragic Events to Encourage Repentance

On one occasion, Jesus was confronted with a theodicy. People approached him about a disturbing incident regarding Pilate’s apparent slaughter of some Galilean Jews (Luke 13:1). Apparently the concern was whether this senseless act was as a result of their sinfulness and if this was the outworking of God’s judgment. Jesus adds to this horrific act by Pilate another tragic event where a tower fell near the pool of Siloam in Jerusalem and killed eighteen people. To both of these tragic incidents, Jesus rejects the notion that these events occurred as a result of their sinfulness (Luke 13:2–5):

And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2–5 ESV emphasis added).

Notice, however, that although these events are not part of the judgment of God on sinners, Jesus does take these tragic events as an opportunity to warn the people about the coming judgment of God and calls them to repent: “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3; also in v. 5).

Jesus’ Post-Resurrection Commission to Proclaim Repentance

After his crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus appears to his disciples in Jerusalem. Appearing in their midst, he verified that he was real, showing them his hands and feet and even eating some food in front of them. Then Jesus’ final words recorded in Luke’s gospel give the disciples an explanation for what had happened as well as their mission and task going forward:

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:45–48 emphasis mine).

Notice that preaching and repentance, resulting in forgiveness of sins for those that to repent, is emphasized. Not only was the Messiah’s suffering and resurrection foretold in the Old Testament (“the Scriptures…it is written”), it seems that the message of repentance was as well. These themes of repentance and forgiveness carry over into Luke’s sequel to his gospel, the Book of Acts. There we see how a Spirit-empowered group of disciples continued this message of repentance that Jesus had demonstrated for them years earlier.

A Biblical Theology of Repentance, part 6

A couple of weeks ago, I began posting portions of a paper I wrote for my Biblical Theology course titled, “That Times of Refreshing May Come: A Biblical Theology of Repentance.” This is the sixth installment of a multi-post series. The previous parts can be found at the following: parts one, two, three, four, and five. This is a continuation of a call to return / repent in the prophets.


Daniel

Daniel, like Ezekiel, is a prophet of the Babylonia exile. Many people might be familiar with Daniel eating only vegetables and for not being devoured in the den of lions. However, in the middle of the book of Daniel is a long prayer of confession of Israel’s sins and repentance. Daniel turned his “face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes” (Dan 9:3). He made confession on behalf of the nation, noting that “the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him” (Dan 9:11).

Recognizing that all the disaster that had come upon Israel was from their violation of the covenant and the curses of Deuteronomy were realized: “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the LORD our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth” (Dan 9:13). Israel’s failure to repent and turn from their sin to yhwh lead to their exile. Daniel petitions God for his wrath and anger be diverted from Jerusalem (Dan 9:16). However, the very moment Daniel began his prayer of repentance the angel Gabriel was dispatched to give him a message concerning the end of the exile (cf. Dan 9:20–22).

Building on the offer of forgiveness in Deuteronomy, the prophets’ primary message was to confront the people of Israel. However, there was present in their messages that the offer for people to return to yhwh was also given to those outside the people of Israel (e.g. Egypt in Isaiah 19; the Ninevites in Jonah; etc.). Evidence of a centrifugal movement from a particular people to all nations becomes more evident in the prophetic writings. The offer of forgiveness to those who repent is available to all people everywhere and the consequent blessing of God now brings the blessing of Abraham to all nations (Gen 12:1–3). This becomes even clearer in the New Testament as Jesus encounters “great faith” from those outside the people of Israel, and as the Spirit-empowered Christian community encounters the conversion and influx of Gentiles into the church.

I am always glad to hear from readers. Please feel free to leave comments, or write me at diligentsoul@me.com. Follow regular updates on Twitter as well at http://www.twitter.com/diligent_soul (note the underscore). And please feel free to share this with friends.

A Biblical Theology of Repentance, part 5

A couple of weeks ago, I began posting portions of a paper I wrote for my Biblical Theology course titled, “That Times of Refreshing May Come: A Biblical Theology of Repentance.” This is the fifth installment of a multi-post series. The previous parts can be found at the following: parts one, two, three, and four. This one is on the prophets; I excluded Isaiah and Jeremiah and include only Ezekiel in this post.


A CALL TO RETURN / REPENT IN THE PROPHETS

Ezekiel

Ezekiel’s 20-year prophetic ministry begins during the exile of Babylonians after their destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. The Lord’s word to Ezekiel also diagnoses their fateful condition: “that I may lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel, who are all estranged from me through their idols” (Ezek 14:5). God had pronounced his judgment upon Israel, responding to their turning from him by turning from them: “When she carried on her whoring so openly and flaunted her nakedness, I turned in disgust from her, as I had turned in disgust from her sister” (Ezek 23:18). The terrible destruction of their city and their expulsion from their land – the land promised to them through Abraham – comes as a result of their turning from their covenant God.

However, Ezekiel 18 demonstrates both the consequence of their sin and the offer of forgiveness for those who repent and return to yhwh. The Lord’s word to Ezekiel affirms the consequence of those who choose disobedience outlined in Deuteronomy 30, namely death: “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezek 18:20). But the offer to return in Deuteronomy 30 is also present in Ezekiel 18:

But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 21 None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. 22 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? (Ezek 18:21–23).

God does not desire that they perish in their state of rebellion in exile, with the curse of their iniquity remaining on their heads. God’s desire is for the people to choose life. And this life is available through their turning from their wicked ways to him. God’s call to repent comes through loudly at the climax of this chapter:

Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. 30 Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? 31 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live (Ezek 18:30–32; cf. Ezek 33:11).

The Lord’s promise to provide the house of Israel with a “new heart” and a “new spirit” (Ezek 36:26) and their return to the land comes upon this condition of their returning to him. The beautiful picture of restoration – namely, the valley of the dry bones – is a wonderful promise of the new life and new heart for those who repent and return. Their “backslidings” and transgressions will be cleansed and God will make a “covenant of peace” with his people (cf. Ezek 37:26).

I am always glad to hear from readers. Please feel free to leave comments, or write me at diligentsoul@me.com. Follow regular updates on Twitter as well at http://www.twitter.com/diligent_soul (note the underscore). And please feel free to share this with friends.

A Biblical Theology of Repentance, part 4

Last week, I began posting portions of a paper I wrote for my Biblical Theology course titled, “That Times of Refreshing May Come: A Biblical Theology of Repentance.” This is the fourth installment of a multi-post series. Parts one can be found here, part two here, and part three here. The following is part four:

A CALL TO REPENT / RETURN IN THE KINGDOM

The importance of the Mosaic covenant that hits its zenith in Deuteronomy can be seen in the label often given to the grouping of books that follow Torah in the Hebrew scriptures. This collection of books from Joshua through 2 Kings traces how well, or how poorly, the people were faithful to the covenant. The judges of Israel did what was right in their own eyes (Judg 17:6; 21:25) and despite their military successes against their neighbors, they were disappointments at faithfully following the covenant.

“Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they whored after other gods and bowed down to them. They soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the LORD, and they did not do so…. But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways” (Judg 2:17, 19 emphasis mine).

They were failing to live in covenant faithfulness to God. Eventually, the people call for a king to lead them. God permits this to happen but not without a strong warning about the consequence. The kings of Israel, and of Israel and Judah after the kingdom divides, are evaluated on how well they followed God. Their faithfulness to the covenant of yhwh determined whether they were judged to be a “good” king or a “bad” king.

Saul was Israel’s first king. Although he had some success militarily, he unfortunately had a heart that wandered away from God and God regretted making Saul king (1 Sam 15:11, 35).

David

David, in contrast to Saul, was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14; cf. Acts 13:22). However, David was not without his moral failures. His incident with Bathsheba nearly destroyed his kingdom. Surely it was because of David’s repentance and turning to the Lord in the face of his sin that God esteemed him. David’s repentance and turning to yhwh’s graciousness to forgive him his sin and guilt is clearly pictured in some of his psalms, including Psalm 51: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” (Ps 51:1–2). It is interesting to note how David ends the psalm by affirming that forgiveness through repentance is a heart issue: “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps 51:16–17). Indeed, a heart pictured in this psalm is the kind of heart that God desires and requires.

I am always glad to hear from readers. Please feel free to leave comments, or write me at diligentsoul@me.com. Follow regular updates on Twitter as well at http://www.twitter.com/diligent_soul (note the underscore). And please feel free to share this with friends.

A Biblical Theology of Repentance, part 3

Earlier this week, I began posting portions of a paper I wrote for my Biblical Theology course titled, “That Times of Refreshing May Come: A Biblical Theology of Repentance.” This is the third installment of a multi-post series. Part one can be found here and part two here. The following is part three:

The Covenant in Deuteronomy

The book of Deuteronomy has as its setting the succeeding generation of Israel posed in the plains of Moab, across the Jordan river, to enter the land of promise. Moses gives a series of farewell speeches recapitulating the covenant with yhwh and his people. Scholars have noted the Deuteronomy resembles other ancient near Eastern treaties in structure.[1] The general requirement of the covenant in Deuteronomy could be summarized in its famous, almost creedal verse, the Shema:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart (Deut 6:4–6).

After expanding on the covenant requirements of the people of God, the book of Deuteronomy closes with a series of blessings for obedience (Deut 28:1–14) followed with curses for disobedience (Deut 28:15–68). The results of the curse included, among other things, the exile of God’s people from the land of promise.

What is somewhat unique to Deuteronomy, however, is the offer of forgiveness for those who “return” to yhwh with all their heart:

And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind [shuv][2] among all the nations where the LORD your God has driven you, 2 and return [shuv] to the LORD your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, 3 then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you (Deut 30:1–3).

Despite the people’s anticipated future rejection of God and their turning away from him, and thus incurring the curse of exile, the LORD offers a way back. This offer is conditioned on their turning back to yhwh. This turning is also said to be close to wherever they are: “But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it” (Deut 30:14).

Thus, Torah crescendos with the covenantal blessings and curses. The pinnacle of these is the call for God’s covenant people to make a decision: life and blessing, curse and death  with the appeal for the people to “choose life” (Deut 30:19). Torah fittingly closes with the call to repent and the offer of forgiveness.


[1] Cf. J. A. Thompson, Deuteronomy: An Introduction and Commentary (TOTC 5; IVP/Accordance electronic ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1974), 19-26. He surveys the important works of G. E. Mendenhall, Law and Covenant in Israel and the Ancient Near East (1955), and Meredith G. Kline, Treaty of the Great King (1963).

[2] The Hebrew phrase, wahashevota ’el-levavekha, is lit. “and you return [shuv] them to your heart.” Cf. Duane L. Christensen, Deuteronomy 21:10–34:12 (WBC 6B; Accordance/Thomas Nelson electronic ed. Waco: Word books, 2002), 738.

I am always glad to hear from readers. Please feel free to leave comments, or write me at diligentsoul@me.com. Follow regular updates on Twitter as well at http://www.twitter.com/diligent_soul (note the underscore). And please feel free to share this with friends.

Biblical Theology of Repentance, part 2

Earlier this week, I began posting portions of a paper I wrote for my Biblical Theology course titled, “That Times of Refreshing May Come: A Biblical Theology of Repentance.” Part one of this series of posts can be found here. The following is part two:

Repentance: God’s Call for People to Return to Him

The biblical storyline repeatedly presents a humanity that turns away from God. God provides an offer of forgiveness and for a relationship to be restored. Covenant is the concept that illustrates this relationship. God creates a people and makes a covenant with them. They keep breaking that covenant, suffering the curses for doing so. What we discover is that God’s people have turned away from God and their covenantal commitment to him.

What is needed for humanity, as we shall see, is for them to return to God. Repentance, then, is a turning back to God with wholehearted devotion and obedience to him. It is a necessary decision – involving the heart and the mind – in which a person turns from sin to trust in God and obey Him. Repentance is God’s call for people to repent of their sin and rejection of God and return to him. We will now examine this theme in several episodes in the biblical story.

A CALL TO RETURN / REPENT IN TORAH

Background: Creation, Sin, Abraham

The biblical story begins with God, the creator of heaven and earth. The account of his creation reaches its pinnacle with the creation of mankind (Gen 2). The opening chapters of the story present mankind (albeit a couple) as having been granted life and purpose and as being “blessed”. However, this idyllic state is fractured when the couple violated God’s command, rebelling against him, and desiring to be like God. Behind their seemingly minor infraction of eating fruit is a rebellion and rejection of God as God. Their sin results in death and curse.

Genesis 1–11 charts the downward progression of all humanity as a result. All mankind has more than simply wandered away from God in whose image they were made, they have outright rejected him, choosing not to reflect him to their world. Rather than submitting themselves to the rule of their maker they have made themselves like God and thus incurring the divine curse. In what are perhaps the most lamentable verses in all of Christian scripture, the condition of mankind is expressed in the most distressing terms: “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6:5). Mankind now has a heart problem, a heart bent on wickedness and not toward God. This rebellion is met with the God’s regret for having even created man (cf. Gen 6:6–7), and he acts in judgment on them for their persistent wickedness.

The storyline shifts when God initiates a program to reverse the curse and bring blessing to the world. This shift occurs with the call of Abram/Abraham (Gen 12). With this call, God intends to use Abram and his descendants to bring blessing (and curse) to the world: “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. (Gen 12:2–3 ESV).

His descendants, Israel, find themselves enslaved in Egypt. But, God, faithful to his promises to Abraham, hears their cry and saves them from Egypt (Exod 1–14). He makes a covenant with his people, provides them with his teaching and instructions for his “dwelling” and for their worship (Exod 19–40). He then sets out to lead them to the land that he promised Abraham.

However, the journey is fraught with difficulties as the people repeatedly rebel and reject the God who saved them, wishing instead to return to their bondage in Egypt. God eventually judges Israel, and makes them wander in the wilderness until that rebellious generation dies.

I am always glad to hear from readers. Please feel free to leave comments, or write me at diligentsoul@me.com. Follow regular updates on Twitter as well at http://www.twitter.com/diligent_soul (note the underscore). And please feel free to share this with friends.

Biblical Theology of Repentance, part 1

Several weeks ago I posted an outline for a paper I was writing for my Biblical Theology course. The assignment was to find a biblical theme and trace it throughout scripture. I had selected the concept of repentance / turning to God. What a task! The assignment was 20 pages, however, a huge volume could have been written on the topic.

Some of you have expressed an interest in reading it. I am grateful and flattered. However, it isn’t the most fanciful of writing as it is only an assignment for a class. I’ve heard it said that “dissertations make bad books.” Well, it may also be true that “class papers make bad blog posts.” Nevertheless, I thought I would comply and post portions of the paper in a series of posts.

As with any paper of this sort, one must cover the necessary preliminaries. This is not the whole introduction but the section dealing with the terms and concepts relevant to the subject matter of the paper (in other words, it gets better after this stuff!).

This study will attempt to show that repentance is a crucial, important theme in biblical theology. We will examine the idea of repentance as it appears in several key passages in both testaments of the Bible. We begin with a brief survey of some of the key biblical terms around the concept of repentance as well as outline major episodes in the biblical narrative.

Biblical Terms and Concepts

If the idea of returning to God is a crucial, important theme in the biblical narrative it is helpful to briefly survey some of the key terms and concepts used to describe a turning/returning to God. We begin with the Hebrew words used in the Old Testament.

The primary term for “repent” in the Old Testament is shuv.[1] The basic meaning is “to turn” and it occurs well over one thousand times in the Hebrew scriptures. The term is used in both a general sense (as in actual physical movement), but is used in a theological sense of either negatively turning away from yhwh or positively of turning toward him in faith and obedience. A related term noun, meshuvah, is used for unfaithfulness, disloyalty, apostasy, and backsliding.[2]

In the New Testament, the verb for repent is metanoeo and means to “change one’s mind,” along with the noun, metanoia (“repentance”). This change was more than a mere shift in one’s opinion. To metanoeo meant “to change one’s way of life as the result of a complete change of thought and attitude with regard to sin and righteousness” [LN 41.52]. This manifested itself in a total reorientation of one’s outlook and conduct.

In addition to metanoeo and metanoia , there are two other NT terms to note, and which have similar semantic range. Two other terms are used for repentance: epistrepho, “to turn back, return, turn (36x’s), and strepho, “to turn” (21x’s).[3]  Although used for change in general, they are sometimes used in a religious context for turning from other gods and toward God.[4]


[1] “shuv,” NIDOTTE, 5:55.

[2] “meshuvah, shuv,” NIDOTTE, 3:1,113.

[3] LN 41.50, 51

[4] “epistrepho,” NIDNTT, n.p.

I am always glad to hear from readers. Please feel free to leave comments, or write me at diligentsoul@me.com. Follow regular updates on Twitter as well at www.twitter.com/diligent_soul (note the underscore). And please feel free to share this with friends.