If Jesus Christ died for our sins once and for all, how many times does a Believer repent? Once? Twice? Ornumerous times until one dies? What does the Bible say about repentance and Believers and its implications onfaith and salvation?

The Bible speaks of repentance within the context of Believers in a few instances particularly in Paul"sepistles. An example of this can be seen in Paul"s letter to the Christians of Corinth. In2 Corinthians 7, Paul refers to an earlier letter (now lost)that was sent via Titus which sternly confronted the Corinthian Christians with their sin(2 Cor 7:8). Uncertain of their reception, Paul was comfortednot only by Titus" safety but by their response to his letter(2 Cor 7:5-7).Because the Corinthian Christians received Titus with such respect, it meant that they still honored Paul andhis apostolic ministry.

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"I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowfulto the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might notsuffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentancewithout regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death."(2 Cor 7:9-10)

The Corinthian Christians respond to Paul"s previous letter with sincere repentance. Whilethe content of the lost letter is unknown, circumstantial evidence found in 2 Corinthians point to the presenceof false teachers promoting their own theology and discrediting the apostle and his message(2 Cor 2:17;4:2;6:3, 12-18;7:12;11:3-6).

The Christians of Corinth apparently had a "change of mind" about their sin, acknowledged theirsin in "godly sorrow" and corrected their behavior. As evidence of genuine sorrow, Paul cites their "earnestness"to make amends, "indignation" at Paul"s opponents, a "fear" and "longing" concern for Paul, a "zeal" to "avenge"the wrong and "vindicate" themselves (2 Cor 7:11).

Scholars believe that the Corinthians sinned, not by doing wrong, but failing to do what wasright.

When confronted by Paul, the Corinthian Christians had a choice of responding positively or negatively, andPaul referred to this as two types of repentance (2 Cor 7:10):

"Worldly sorrow" is an example of a negative response.

It is a sorrow that does not reflect a genuine repentance or "change in mind." The sin isjustified and the confrontation is resented or leaves one embittered. There might be an assuaging of hurt feelingwith words or behavior of contrition but not with any genuine intent of repentance. Sinful behavior is resumed.

As God knows the heart of each man, this path leads to the sinner"s harm and ahardening of the heart.Paul"s confronting letter is an example of a divine judgment that often serves two purposes: an act of justiceand an attempt to bring about repentance.

"Godly sorrow" is an example of a positive response.

God"s intended way brings one to see his own guilt and produces a change of mind; thisrepentance leads to salvation. However, what salvation is this if Paul is speaking to Believers?

In context of a non-Believer, salvation is referred to as "initial salvation" (justificationsalvation) and is when one is saved from the penalty of sin.

In the context of a Believer, salvation is in referred to as "sanctification salvation" and iswhen one is being saved from the power of sin(Phil 2:12-13) and becoming more Christ like(2 Cor 3:18).

With God"s way, repentance is not a regrettable act; it serves in sanctification salvation andis a blessing.

It is apparent that a Christian, who seeks to live a holy life, will be repenting often and as part of theprocess of sanctification.


Gaebelein FE, ed., The Expositor"s Bible Commentary vol. 10, Grand Rapids: ZondervanPublishing House, (1976).

2. Brand C, Draper C and England A, eds., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Nashville:Holman Bible Publishers, (1998).

3. Walvoord JF and Zuck RB, eds., Bible Knowledge Commentary, Wheaton: Victor Books,(1985).

4. Swindoll CR and Zuck RB, eds., Understanding Christian Theology, Nashville: ThomasNelson Publishers, (2003).

5. Keener CS, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, Downer"s Grove:InterVarsity Press, (1993).

Next>Series: What is genuine repentance?Part 4: Does repentance help a Believer"s faith?

Part 2: Does genuine repentance always lead to salvation?

Return to Systematic Study: Soteriology

How Does a Believer Cooperate?

Related subject:

Topical Index: Salvation>Salvation From the Penalty of Sin>Conviction / Repentance / Confess

Related verses:

Scripture Index: Epistles of Paul>2 Corinthians


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