There are many Bible verses for forgiveness and repentance from the KJV Bible, both in relation to God and to our fellow human beings. The act of repentance always comes before the gift of forgiveness.
This process is true for both the relationship with God and man and also between human beings. The definition of repentance is to turn from sin or evil and turn toward God and what is good and right.
Repentance involves both a change of heart followed by a change of mind. When God works in our hearts and convicts us of sin, we repent of our sin, especially our sin of unbelief in Him and then He grants us His wonderful forgiveness.
There are two types of repentance in the Bible as it applies to humans. The first is the repentance of unbelief toward God and with that knowledge, then turning to Him for salvation.
Then after salvation, we are still sinners and still need to repent of our sins so in order to serve God and have unbroken fellowship with Him.
Repentance is not a popular subject since it goes against our pride. Prior to repentance, we have to admit to ourselves that we have done wrong. But as sinful human beings, repentance is a necessary act both for salvation and for sin after salvation.
“Some people do not like to hear much of repentance; but I think it so necessary that if I were to die in the pulpit, I should desire to die preaching repentance, and if I should die out of the pulpit, I hope to die practicing it.”Philip Henry the English clergyman (1631-1696)
Bible Verses on Repentance in the Old Testament
Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
Despite that Job was an Old Testament believer, when God spoke to Him personally, he realized just how pathetic he really was. Therefore he repented of his pride before his God.
Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.
This verse spoken by God to His prophet Ezekiel, concerning the nation of Israel. The people of Israel were worshiping and serving idols instead of God. God wanted them to turn away from their idols and turn back to worshiping Him only.
Bible Verses on Repentance From the Preaching of John the Baptist
And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
John the Baptist was preaching, preparing people for the coming of Jesus Christ.
Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.
This verse is part of the preaching of John the Baptist. He knew that if people did truly repent of their sins, they would show it. He urged people to show the “fruits”, the proper works, which were suitable (meet), outwardly showing that they had repented inwardly.
The ministry and preaching of John the Baptist is also recorded in Luke. Here are the verses on repentance spoken by John:
And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;
Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
John the Baptist, preaching to the Jews, attacked the prideful reasoning that since they were descendants of Abraham, they were already right with God. He told that that their ethnic roots were useless in God’s sight because if God wanted He could instantly create more Jewish people from the rocks on the ground John the Baptist made the process of repentance to God, very personal.
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.
Always John the Baptist baptized many who had repented of their sins and turned to God. Yet as powerful and effective as his preaching and ministry was, he was always pointing people to Jesus Christ. In this verse he spoke about both Christ and the coming Holy Spirit.
John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
Mark, the writer of the second Gospel, recorded the ministry of John the Baptist.
When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
This verse was spoken by Paul in his preaching to some Jews. He referred back to the ministry of John the Baptist.
Bible Verses on Repentance From Christ Jesus and His Disciples
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
After John the Baptist, Jesus Himself came and preached the same words to the people. He was the Door to the kingdom of heaven, and He wanted people to repent of their unbelief and turn to Him.
I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
In this verse, when approached by the self-righteous Pharisees, Jesus clearly defined His mission. He came to Earth personally to help sinners repent of their sins and believe and receive Him.
And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Jesus was preaching and was urging His hearers to repent of their sins, ask Him to forgive them of their sins, and believe on Him.
And they went out, and preached that men should repent.
Jesus chose His twelve apostles to preach His message. They traveled to various cities, always telling people to repent of their sins.
I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
These words were spoken by Jesus. People were told Jesus about some of their country men who died at the hands of the Romans. Death, whether or not natural, or in this context, political; comes on all, the only way to escape eternal damnation is to repent of the sins of unbelief and accept Jesus as Savior from sin and hell. This was the point that Jesus was trying to tell these people.
Bible Verses on Repentance and Forgiveness For Salvation
After a person repents of their sins before God, He grants them His forgiveness. The gift of God’s forgiveness is wonderful both for God and the person receiving His forgiveness. God is a merciful God Who wants to forgive people, and grant them the gift of eternal life, but only after they ask. They must want Him to forgive them, that is why He does not give blanket forgiveness.
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.
These are the words of Jesus. He, like God His Father, desired for people to come, repent of their sins. The ninety-nine righteous persons was a sarcastic remark since “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23). Jesus was referring to all those who were so prideful that they refused to repent of their sins, thinking that they were good enough already and did not need to repent.
Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
When a sinner repents, heaven rejoices. True repentance brings glory to God.
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.
Peter preached telling people to repent of their sins, which was an inward act, and then as an outward testimony, get baptized telling his audience about the gift of God’s Spirit given to all who got saved.
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
This verse is part of Paul’s sermon. God does not wink at sin. He takes sin seriously. Since He does, we should as well. God commands all to repent of their sins and turn to Him.
Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
This verse refers to Paul’s ministry. Regardless of any ethnic background, Paul preached that people need to repent of their sins to God and to believe in His Son, Jesus Christ.
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 repentance.
This verse is part of Paul’s speech and testimony of his salvation as he spoke with King Agrippa. The works “meet” (suitable) for repentance was Paul’s way of saying that after a person repented and turned from sin to God, they should show the evidence of God’s salvation in their daily activities.
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
Paul in his letter to the believers at Rome, reminded them that despite their sins against God, He is so patient and good to sinners as He leads them to repent of their sins and turn to Him for forgiveness.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.
The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all of our sins. When we apply Jesus’ blood to our hearts, God sees His Son’s blood and does not hold our sins against us any more.
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.
While it is God’s will that all repent and turn to Him for salvation, so that they will not perish, and He waits for this to happen, He will not force anyone to repent. Repentance is solely up to the individual.
But after a person has repented and received God’s salvation from hell, God changes them. Paul sums up their transformation in this way,
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
While repentance itself is not fun, it is good. It is soul cleansing, it leads to salvation, and to the joy of being forgiven by God, now a friend and a son of God.
2 Corinthians 7:10
For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
Forgiveness and Repentance After Salvation
After salvation, then God expects His children to serve Him. Although they are still sinners, He knows that and He has made provision to forgive them.
I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
David in the Psalms was very aware of his sinful state and knew that with repentance and confession to God, he would receive God’s forgiveness.
1 John 2:1
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
John instructs Christians not to sin, and by following the instructions in God’s Word, helps us to live correctly. Yet John knows that despite our efforts to do what is right, we still will sin. Thankfully, the same One Who saved us from hell, will also cleanse us from sin after salvation.
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.
John, in his letter, was writing to believers. He knew that they, himself included, were still sinners, even after they had accepted God forgiveness for their sins. So he encouraged his readers to bring their confession of sin to God, to get His forgiveness and cleansing.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
God sometimes has to disciple His children. If His children are behaving badly, He will chasten them. In this verse He warns believers to repent before He brings judgment on them.
Bible Verses About Forgiving Others
Just as a person sins against God, we also sin against our fellow man. Forgiveness needs to be practiced in human relationships. But before the gift of forgiveness is given, there has to be repentance on the part of the one who did wrong.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
This verse is part of the sample prayer, commonly known as “The Lord’s Prayer”, that Jesus taught His disciples when they requested Him to teach them how to pray. The word “debt” here means “sins”. Later in the chapter, after the sample prayer was finished, Jesus told His followers the importance of forgiving those who have wronged them.
Matthew 6:14 &15
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Jesus emphasized that if we are not willing to forgive others, neither can we expect God to forgive us. When we forgive others, we are emulating God’s example as He forgave us. But the gift of forgiveness needs to be given only after there is repentance.
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.
In this verse Jesus expanded on the process of granting forgiveness. If someone has wronged you, they may not have realized it and it is necessary to call their sin to their attention. After their sin is pointed out, and they realized that they have done wrong, and repented, showed or said they were sorry, then it up to us to give them our forgiveness, even if it is seventy-seven times each day!
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
Although Jesus taught this principle in the New Testament, one of the Old Testament Bible stories where this was demonstrated, is in the life of Joseph. Joseph’s brothers had sold him into slavery, certain that he would soon die. They wanted him dead, but not by their direct hand. But preserved Joseph and eventually made him second in command of the entire nation of Egypt. When Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt to buy food from Joseph directly, instead of falling all over them and instantly forgiving them, he was very rude to them. He wanted to make sure that they were truly repentant for what they did to him. When Joseph made was harsh to them, this was their response:
And they [Joseph’s brothers] said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us. And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.
Only after knowing that his brothers showed true repentance did Joseph give them his gift of forgiveness to them for what they had attempted. He showed true kindness to his brothers which is expressed in these two final KJV Bible verses for forgiveness and repentance.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
Since we are all sinners, we all need to repent, and we all desire the forgiveness of God and others. God desires our repentance, and then generously grants us His forgiveness. This process of repentance and forgiveness will continue until we are finally in heaven with God.
Want to read more KJV Bible verses? Check out 48 Excellent Bible Verses About a Good Wife KJV.