Because the Christian Should Be Informed
There are actually a couple words in the New Testament that are used to convey the idea of repentance and conversion, of which “metanoeo” is one. You always need to be careful in defining a term according to its constituent parts, as sometimes that will lead you widely astray. For example, if we were to go out to lunch and I ordered a “hotdog” to eat, you would not expect that I was talking about a fuzzy little animal that had been outside in the sun too long. There are more and better examples of misleading compound words, but you can get the point.
That being said, metanoeo can be broken down. In Greek usage, “meta” functions largely as a marker of association and “noeo” (there is not a “noesis” in the Greek New Testament, but “metanoia” is the reciprocal noun) refers to the way in which one thinks. Nous is the Greek word that refers to disposition of thought and perhaps even to worldview. Thus metanoeo literally means, “having to do with one’s way of thinking” or “having to do with one’s worldview.” When used in its Biblical context, it reflects a fundamental change from the world’s way of viewing life to God’s way of viewing life.
Another term that is used in the context of repentance is epistrophe (see Acts 15:3 which translates this term as “conversion” in the ESV). What is interesting is that the term “strophe” was originally used to denote the movement from right to left made by a Greek Chorus. Thus, this picture of conversion, with epi, which means “on or above the surface” refers to more of a bodily re-alignment, a physical change in the outward way of life that reflects the change in thinking reflected above.
There is also the term “strepho”, which means to “turn around” or to “change position.”
The Hebrew term that is usually used is “shuv” (pronounced with an “oo” vowel sound), and means “to turn around” or “to turn away from.” This is the word that is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14 “and turn from their wicked ways…”
Bottom line is that it is safe to say that “repentance” reflects a complete change in worldview, and a complete change of worldview ought to bring a complete change in living, with both ideas bound together inseparably. One of the problems we face in our culture, though, is that most folks have such an inconsistent worldview or have such an impotent worldview that the change in worldview does not effect a change in living. Hence you have so many professing Christians nurturing deeply rooted sins.
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