One of the words key to the Christian experience is repentance. Everyone who comes to the faith hears it so much that it can get lost in Christian jargon. It does seem shrouded in some mystery, so here is some guidance for understanding the word. First hebrew, then greek, then how the word fits in scripture, and then how it fits with us.
1) shub – is the Hebrew word used shifting the direction in which someone is heading and then returning to the original course. It’s most importantly used for Israel or the Church returning to God (Hosea 14:1) and even in some cases of God returning to His people (Zechariah 1:3, 16; 8:3). In a negative sense it means to turns away from something or abandons a course of thought and action. In a positive sense, it is a return to the Godly way. In the case of God, it also is interpreted in Ps. 23:3 as to bring back liveliness and vitality to the soul (shubeb nephesh).
2) metanaeo – is the greek word used throughout the new testament for repentance. It carries much of the meaning of shub, but adds an element of remorse in the heart, an emotional sense, if you will. This does not mean emotions were disconnected in the Old Testament, but the greek word combines it with the idea of turning around. It carries the old sense of listening and response.
Both words carry the same point. We are called to return to the path God has paved for us. It begins with realization that we are heading the wrong direction. Then we are challenged and come back to God. The interesting point of this word is that it is generally used for people who are in the faith. There are some points where it is used for people not in the Christian or Jewish faith, but those times tend to look back to Genesis 1-2 as times when mankind was not fallen. God originally held covenant with Adam and mankind eventually broke that covenant. The point for Lent, however, deals with repentance in the life of God’s people. We are always having God bring us back and show us what we did not know before. We are also called to return to God at a moments notice when we learn of our spiritual shortcomings
And find those things that steer us off the path of redemption.
Grace and peace to you all.
All linguistic helps were derived from the “BDAG Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament” and the “Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT)”