Is The Concept Of Repentance Found In John’s Gospel, And If So, What Difference Does It Make? -- By: Robert N. Wilkin

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 32:62 (Spring 2019)
Article: Is The Concept Of Repentance Found In John’s Gospel, And If So, What Difference Does It Make?
Author: Robert N. Wilkin


Is The Concept Of Repentance Found In John’s Gospel, And If So, What Difference Does It Make?

Robert N. Wilkin

Executive Director
Grace Evangelical Society
Corinth, TX

I. Introduction

Over the past few years I have read articles and books by leading Evangelicals arguing that the concept of repentance is found in the Gospel of John. They have suggested it is a major error to conclude, as I and others have, that because the words repent and repentance (metanoeō and metanoia) do not appear in John’s Gospel, then repentance must not be a condition of everlasting life.1

In this article we will consider the examples which have been put forward of the concept of repentance in John’s Gospel. Is the concept of repentance indeed found in the Fourth Gospel? If so, does the Fourth Gospel teach that repentance is a condition of everlasting life?

II. Why This Is An Important Question

This is important for a number of reasons.

First, people’s eternal destinies depend upon whether they do what God requires in order to be born again. If repentance is a condition of everlasting life and we do not teach that it is, then we are misleading people on the single most important issue there is. That is bad for them, and it is bad for us as well (see Jas 3:1).

Second, Biblical doctrines build on one another. If we accurately understand the place of repentance in the Bible, then we have what Paul calls “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16) in that matter. If, however, we misunderstand the role of repentance, then our thinking is seriously out of line with Scripture on this issue. And since doctrines are interrelated, to be off on repentance would mean that we misunderstand the nature of saving faith as well as assurance of everlasting life.

Third, the issue of interpreting Scripture is a vital one. Since this question is fundamentally one involving principles of hermeneutics, it is a crucial question. We must have a sound hermeneutic if we are to understand God’s Word.

III. Examples Wherein A Given Word Or Phrase Does Not Appear In A Book, Yet The Concept Is Present

I heartily agree that a given word does not need to be used in a book in order for the concept conveyed by that word to be present. I will give a few simple and clear examples.

The expression great white throne is not mentioned in the Gospels. In fact, that expres...

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