30 “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30–31)
We must remember that the Apostle Paul was addressing a predominantly Greek, or Gentile, audience when he spoke the Gospel on the Areopagus. The Greeks were ignorant of the Jewish Old Testament, because God up to that time almost exclusively revealed His plan of redemption to Israel. Except for His general revelation in creation, the pagan nations were largely left in ignorance. The Lord’s commissioning of Paul as an apostle to the Gentiles was changing this reality (Acts 9:15).
Paul preached that God commanded all people everywhere to repent. God’s command remains a present active reality. It is a command to, and for, all kinds of people, wherever they are. He commands them to repent. To repent (μετανοέω; metanoeo) means to turn away from sin. As such, the evidence of true, biblical repentance is a change of one’s attitude and behavior concerning sin and righteousness. True repentance is a continual rejection of sin and a continuing embracing of righteousness because of one’s conversion to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Repentance means a literal change of mind, not about individual plans or intentions, but rather a change in one’s attitude about God. Such repentance accompanies saving faith in Christ (Acts 20:21). Repentance and faith are both centered in Jesus Christ. They are two sides to the same coin of conversion.
The Tyndale Bible Commentary explains that, “It is inconsistent and unintelligible to suppose that anyone could believe in Christ yet not repent. Repentance is such an important aspect of conversion that it is often stressed rather than saving faith, as when Christ said that there is joy in heaven among the angels over one sinner who repents (Lk 15:7). The apostles described the conversion of the Gentiles to Christ as God granting them “repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18). Evangelical repentance and faith in Christ are in fact inseparable.”
The reason for the need of repentance, and faith, in Jesus Christ is because God the Father is going to judge the world. The righteous standard of that judgment will be whether one has faith in Jesus Christ. The righteous standard of Christ is assured by Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
Dr. R. C. Sproul writes that, “The final day of judgment (Revelation 20:12-15) would be an alien idea to Epicureans who believe that the gods could not be bothered by earthly events, and to Stoics, who view history as running in endless cycles. Yet the Athenians’ rejection of the Man who God appointed will result in Jesus finally and justly rejecting them on that Day of Judgment. Paul stresses that God’s call to repentance and faith is not merely an invitation but a command.”
Have you responded to God’s call to repent of your sin and to place your God-given faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ? If you have not, I urge you to do so today.
Soli deo Gloria!