John the Baptist

Matthew 3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,

2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

4 And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,

6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

Luke 3:10 And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?

11 He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.

12 Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?

13 And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.

14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.


Mark 1:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Luke 13:1 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?

3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?

5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

The Apostles

Acts 2:38 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.

Acts 3:19 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;

Acts 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.


MEMORY VERSE: And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. —Acts 17:30-31


CENTRAL THOUGHT: The gospel message preached by John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostles was introduced by this exhortation: “Repent!” and included a further explanation of what repentance meant, what rewards followed repentance, and what would happen if there was no repentance.




Matthew 3:2 “Repent”: to perceive afterwards, as a change of mind or purpose; especially with an abhorrence toward sin and an intent to obtain God’s pardon. “At hand”: approaches; has drawn close or come near; imminent; a presence.

Matthew 3:3 “Esaias”: Isaiah (a quote from Isaiah 40:3).
Matthew 3:8 “Meet”: weighing as much as; suitable for; worthy of.
Luke 3:12 “Publicans”: those who gathered public taxes from the Jews for the Romans. Luke 3:14 “Do violence”: to shake violently: blackmail; extort from; intimidate.

Acts 2:38 “For the remission of sins”: a sending away; a release from an obligation or a debt; complete forgiveness. Baptism is a visible sign or seal of that remission. “The apostle exhorted them to repent of their sins, and openly to avow their belief in Jesus as the Messiah, by being baptized in His name. Thus professing their faith in Him, they would receive remission of their sins, and partake of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew Henry Commentary). “An ingenuous confession of sin, a solemn purpose to forsake it, and a true hatred of it, is the only thing that can give the mind composure” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible).




John the Baptist, a prophet whose spirit was like Elijah of long ago, was a cousin of Jesus. He lived in the wilderness and attracted crowds to the Jordan River to hear his message of repentance. With God-given authority, he called the Pharisees and Sadducees a “generation of vipers.” “Repent!” was the command he issued to them and to the common people, publicans and soldiers alike.

Jesus also came preaching repentance and announcing the arrival of the long-expected kingdom of God. Jesus added, “Believe the gospel” to His message of repentance. John baptized, an outward symbol of the inward cleansing taking place by means of repentance; and Jesus preached, healed the sick and cast out devils. John’s message heralded the imminent approach of the King of the kingdom of God; the Messiah, the Anointed One. John prepared the way of the Lord by showing the people their sins and commanding reform.

Later, in a series of teachings to a great crowd of people, Jesus addressed the people who informed Him of Pilate’s massacre of some Jewish worshippers. The crowd seemed to feel that these were sinners more deserving of a tragic death than others. Jesus answered by relating another tragedy, and asking, “Are these sinners above all men because they suffered such a tragic death?” He answered His own question: “No.” The point He made was that the final end of all of us will be dreadful unless each one repents.

We quote from two different places where Peter preached repentance to the crowds who followed the believers after Pentecost. The first instance was when the people were pricked in their hearts as Peter opened up the prophetic scriptures concerning Jesus and made it clear to them that they had crucified the Messiah. “What shall we do?” they asked, and Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized.” Shortly after that, when Peter and John had lifted up the lame man in the temple, by faith in Jesus’ name the man went leaping and walking. The people looking on, marveling, were admonished by Peter, “Repent.” The promise in each message was the “gift of the Holy Ghost,” or “times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord,” which we know was the refreshing, living water of the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus in John 7:38.

Peter and John spoke personally to the sorcerer, Simon, who tried to buy the Holy Spirit with money: “Repent of this thy wickedness!” By this passage we learn that not only our outward deeds need forgiveness, but also the inward thoughts, motives and intents of our hearts can be wicked, echoing the prophet Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 55:7. We need to repent and turn away from those thoughts, so we may obtain pardon.

Our memory verse comes from the words of Paul as he stood on Mars Hill in Athens, Greece. Explaining to the Athenians who their “Unknown” God was, he let them know that this God, the Creator, had sent His son to earth, had raised Him from the dead, and was by Him some day going to judge the world. “Repent” was the command and solemn obligation from God, who had overlooked the folly of the Gentiles in previous times, but was now opening their eyes and offering them faith.

—Angela Gellenbeck




  1. Explain the terms: repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and meet for repentance.
  2. What did repentance mean to the people, publicans, and soldiers to whom John preached?
  3. How did Jesus answer the idea that some people are worse sinners than others?
  4. Describe the three passages where Peter preached, “Repent.”
  5. To what people and in what place did Paul share his message of repentance?




These texts are representative of the ministries of John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, John, Paul, and the many other heralds of the precious gospel message—the good news offered to a world sinking in idolatry’s degradation, demonic possession, and religious confusion. Everywhere they went, they preached the fiery message of repentance and offered the comforting announcement of the heavenly kingdom.

Sadly, the popular “Christian” world leaders today offer a dumbed-down, half-a-message to a world sinking in idolatry’s degradation, demonic possession and religious confusion. They present a “good news” of grace, unconditional love, and heaven-when-you-die without the important “Repent!” Many people make a profession of salvation but never change their lifestyles, never forsake their sins, and never throw out their idols. It isn’t working. Masses of next-generation hearers of this “gospel” are forsaking Christianity altogether and embracing total godlessness, gross immorality, and shameless idolatry.

The repentance message is still relevant. You can’t be filled with the sweet, refreshing water of the Holy Spirit without first confessing your sinful condition, turning away from it, and wholly trusting in and following the Savior.

—Angela Gellenbeck




As children, there were times when we were required to apologize for even the slightest infractions against our playmates. The words would roll reluctantly from our lips but never quite reached a depth that would be considered heartfelt. We said, “I’m sorry” because we had to, not because we wanted to.

As adults, it still seems so hard to say, “I’m sorry, please forgive me.” Why? They are such simple words but when expressed with a penitent heart they are very powerful. Those simple words have the power to change the hearts of men and most importantly they have the power to change the heart of God. They are words of humility that initiate forgiveness and bring peace to adversarial relationships.

Repentance cannot change the past nor undo the damage that was done as a result of the offense but somehow a heartfelt apology mitigates the pain and paves the way for reconciliation. It remains a mystery but the acknowledgement of wrong, coupled with the desire to correct it and to do right, is so powerful that it almost always results in forgiveness.

Have you ever been offended and felt that someone owed you an apology? Have you ever felt that a simple “I’m sorry” would set things right and make it much easier to forgive the offender and forget the offense?

An offense can bring a wedge between the dearest of friends and the only way to bridge the gap is by way of repentance and forgiveness; repentance on the part of the offender and forgiveness on the part of the offended. Only then can there be reconciliation. Heartfelt apologies have diverted the wrath of kings, restored friendships, and altered the eternal destiny of countless souls.

Reconciliation is always preceded by repentance. True repentance must come, not only from the head but from the heart. Where there is no repentance there is no true reconciliation.

—Darrell Johnson