These 54 Bible verses about repentance from both the Old Testament and the New Testament, teach much about the act of repenting. While not every verse here includes the word “repent”, the act of repenting is implied.
Definition of Repentance
According to Wordnik, the word “repentance means remorse or contrition for past conduct or sins, being penitent, sorrow or contrition for what one has done, a change of mental and spiritual hatred respecting sin.
The context of these Bible verses helps to clarify the definition of the word repentance.
“And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt” (KJV)
After God delivered the people of Israel from Egypt to go into the Promised Land, God did not want them to be troubled by war since if they had, they may have become afraid, changed their minds, and went back to Egypt. In this context, the word repent has to do with a change of mind.
“The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.”
Jesus is speaking in this verse and telling His listeners that when the prophet Jonah preached God’s message at Nineveh, the people turned from their evil ways and turned to God.
“He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.” (KJV)
This statement about repentance is part of one of Jesus’ parables. This parable was about two sons, this particular son at first refused to do what his father asked, but then he had a change of heart and later did obey his father’s wishes. He repented of his former disobedient actions.
“Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders.” (KJV)
After Judas realized what he did when he betrayed Jesus, he felt sorry, he felt remorse, and he returned the money that he got as a reward for betraying Jesus.
2 Corinthians 7:8
“For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.” (KJV)
The apostle Paul wrote this verse. In the book of 1 Corinthians, he scolded them sternly for some of the sinful actions that he heard that they were doing. In this verse, in his second letter to the believers at Corinth, he realized that he had been harsh and although he felt bad – “I did repent”, he realized his rebuke was necessary – “I do not repent”.
Repentance to Obtain Salvation
Repentance is the turning for the sin of unbelief in what Jesus did and turning to Him with faith, accepting His free and great gift of salvation is a necessary part of salvation. To be saved is to be delivered from hell and go to heaven.
“And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (KJV)
This phrase was part of the preaching of John the Baptist. Jesus was about the be revealed and John was telling people to turn from their sins and pay attention to Jesus.
“And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (KJV)
After John the Baptist was put into prison, Jesus Himself continued John’s message and preached telling people to repent and to believe what He would teach them.
“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (KJV)
This verse was spoken by Jesus about salvation. Those who believe in Him and accept His gift of salvation will be showing repentance from what they formally did and believed.
“I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” (KJV)
This was a tongue-in-cheek statement by Jesus since He knew there was no one righteous, there were no ninety-nine righteous persons!
“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (KJV)
After Christ was risen from the dead, He instructed His disciples to preach about Him and what He did, so people would repent of their unbelief to become forgiven by God.
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (KJV)
While this verse does not have the word “repent” in it, the concept of “believeth on the Son” does. To believe, you must turn from your former unbelief, that is to repent.
“I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” (KJV)
This verse was spoken by Jesus about repentance. Those who will not repent of their unbelief in Him will die both physically and spiritually, that is to spend eternity in hell.
“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.” (KJV)
Repentance from unbelief is necessary for the remission (forgiveness) of sins and to obtain salvation. Then after a person is saved, God, in the Person of the Holy Spirit dwells in them. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the gift of God Himself.
“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.” (KJV)
This verse is from Peter’s preaching, and he wants people to repent so they would enjoy God’s forgiveness of their sins and other wonderful spiritual blessings.
“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.”
There was a time when people did not know everything God wanted them to know. Therefore He excused some of their sins which were done without knowledge. But now, with God’s Word completed, no one has an excuse and God commands everyone to repent of their sins.
“Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (KJV)
The Apostle Paul in saying his goodbyes to the elders of the church at Ephesus, summarized what he taught and repentance to God and faith in His Son was part of his message.
“And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. (KJV)
Paul in giving his testimony of salvation was led to Christ Jesus by a man named Ananias. This verse was the words Ananias said to Paul.
“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (KJV)
God wants all people to repent of their sins. God’s kindness is like a signpost pointing them to Himself.
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (KJV)
This verse does not have the word “repent”, but to receive God’s gift of eternal life, a person has to repent of their unbelief about this wonderful present.
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (KJV)
Calling on God means a person must believe that there is a God and that He both hears and answers. To get to this understanding, they must first repent of the sin of unbelief.
2 Corinthians 7:10
“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” (KJV)
Sorrow over sin against a holy God will bring a person to repentance for salvation: “I am sorry I sinned against a holy God. This type of sorrow is far different than worldly grief – i.e. “I’m sorry I got caught”.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (KJV)
To receive the gift of God’s salvation, a person must have faith in God. That faith will cause them to repent of not believing in God and His grace.
2 Peter 3:9
“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. (KJV)
It is God’s will that all people repent to Him. so that no one will perish in hell for eternity. But God leaves the choice up to each individual. He will not force anyone to repent.
Repentance To God After Salvation
After salvation, we still do sin. Christians are not sinless, but they should sin less. Sins after salvation will not keep a Christian from heaven but they will interfere with the relationship with Christ, service for Him, and many other things. But just as a person repented and asked Christ to save them from hell, the same formula is used, to repent of sins and ask God for forgiveness.
2 Chronicles 7:14
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (KJV)
God is talking about His people. His people need to repent of their current sins. Repentance involves humility and turning away from wicked actions. God promises to forgive and bless after His people repent.
“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.”
These four verses are part of a psalm of David. He wrote them after he committed adultery and murder. The entire chapter of Psalm 51 is his prayer of contrition and asking God to forgive him of his sins.
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (KJV)
Repentance involves confession of sin and then with God’s help, forsaking those same sins.
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (KJV)
The Preacher (King Solomon) ends the book of Ecclesiastes with the undertones of repentance, and asking for God’s forgiveness, in these two verses since no one can perfectly keep God’s laws.
“I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.” (KJV)
The return to God that He pleads here, from the words of the prophet Isaiah, has the idea of repentance. To return to God, a person must repent of their present distance from God.
“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.” (KJV)
God’s kindness is shown again in this verse when He pleads with His people of Israel to turn away from their sins and to Him in true repentance promising when they do so, they will not come to ruin.
1 John 1:8
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (KJV)
This verse from the apostle John tells us that even after salvation, we are still sinners and as such need to repent of our sins to God.
1 John 1:9
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (KJV)
The Apostle John follows with the good news that when we repent of our sins, God eagerly forgives us.
“Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (KJV)
God, speaking to the church of Ephesus, urged them to repent of their coldness to Him and return to how they behaved after they first got saved.
Repentance and Forgiveness To Others
Dealing with people can be difficult. People sin against each other and in every type of relationship there must be both repentance and forgiveness.
“Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.” (KJV)
The word “repent” is not found in this verse, but the concept is. When someone has done wrong, instead of getting angry with them and not telling them why you are angry, God says to let them know how they wronged you and give them a chance to explain and apologize to keep a good relationship.
“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” (KJV)
This New Testament verse does not use the word repent but was spoken by Jesus, reiterating the concept in Leviticus 19:17.
“Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” (KJV)
Jesus taught the process of repentance in this verse. A brother sins, you tell him, (rebuke), and after he apologizes (repents) then you forgive him. This process can be repeated several times a day.
Does God Repent?
Repentance is part of every human’s life, to obtain salvation, to get forgiveness of sin after salvation, and as part of human relationships, this is all because of sin. The Bible tells us that God also repents. God has the right to change His mind – to repent.
Here are some verses about how and why God repents.
“And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” (KJV)
Before God brought the flood of Noah’s time, the earth was filled with violence. The actions of the creatures He had made in His image distressed His heart.
“Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.” (KJV)
When God got so angry with the children of Israel, He was going to destroy all of them, except for Moses. Then He was going to use Moses to make a new nation of people. Moses reasoned with God, interceded for the people of Israel, and asked God to repent, to change His mind. Moses’ logic was that if God would do according to what He had planned, it would be a bad testimony of Him to the people of Egypt.
“And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.” (KJV)
Because of Moses’ intervention and reasoning with God, God repented, He changed His mind.
“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (KJV)
The context of this verse is the king of Moab Balak wanting the prophet Baalam to curse God’s people. Almighty God had already pronounced a special blessing on His people. The actions of Balak and Balaam were not going to have God revoke His blessing on them.
“For the LORD shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left.” (KJV)
This verse is part of a song of Moses which he sang and taught the children of Israel before his death. This verse means that God is the Creator and He has the right to punish His rebellious people, yet He reserves the right to change His conduct toward them, and “repent himself” when He sees that they are powerless.
1 Chronicles 21:15
“And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.” (KJV)
When King David sinned against God by numbering the people, God sent a plague upon Israel. But while the angel was destroying them, God repented Himself, He changed His course on conduct, and He took pity on the people.
“And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.” (KJV)
When God saw that the city of Nineveh repented of their wicked ways, God changed His plan of destroying the city.
1 Samuel 15:29
“And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.” (KJV)
In this verse the prophet Samuel told King Saul that God would take the kingdom from him. Samuel also told Saul that this decision by God was irreversible. In this context, God would not repent, or change His mind concerning the judgment against Saul.
“The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” (KJV)
Psalm 110 is a passage of Scripture concerning Jesus Christ as the coming King. Specifically, like the ancient Melchizedek – king of Salem, Christ will also be a priest as well as king. God will not change His mind on this fact.
“For the LORD will judge his people, and he will repent himself concerning his servants.” (KJV)
Although God will judge His people, He will repent – have mercy, and will not give a harsh judgment, to His servants.
“If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.” (KJV)
God through the prophet Jeremiah, is warning His people that if they continually refuse to obey Him, He will change His mind about giving them the blessings that He promised to give them.
“If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings.” (KJV)
Again God is warning, He says judgment can be averted if only the wicked turn from their wickedness, and their evil deeds. When they do, He too will repent from His purposed judgment against them.
“Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.” (KJV)
God through the prophet Jeremiah pleads with the people of Israel to turn themselves back to Him so that God will decide not to bring judgment.
“Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him at all to death? did he not fear the LORD, and besought the LORD, and the LORD repented him of the evil which he had pronounced against them? Thus might we procure great evil against our souls.” (KJV)
King Hezekiah feared God, called on God, and served God. Because of this king’s Godly actions, God decided not to bring judgment against the people of Israel.
These are 54 Bible verses about repentance, for a deeper study on repentance check out Bible Verses for Forgiveness and Repentance.