Misunderstanding what Jesus meant by “repent” is one of the most damaging errors of the Christian church, which has kept people looping around in empty religious concepts that prevent true life and freedom.
The central message of Jesus is translated as: “Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand.” However, the word Jesus used was not “repent.”
The word Jesus actually used was “metanoia.” “Meta” means beyond or outside, while “noia”, means understanding. Noia is derived from the Greek “nous,” which means our minds. So in practical terms metanoia means to “change the way we use our minds.” In other words, to think beyond the normal limits of the way we have been taught to reason. It implies that we haven’t been using our minds correctly. An example of this metanoia principle would be metaphysics. As mentioned, “meta” means outside or beyond, so metaphysics means outside the normal limits of physics.
True “metanoia” is referencing our higher mind – the Spirit. It is a Spirit awareness that is beyond the normal reasoning of the mind.
The original “metanoia” meaning was lost (changed to “repent” and “repentance”) when the early Bible manuscripts were translated into Latin and became the standard Biblical language for many centuries. That word “repentance” comes to English from the old French word “repentir” meaning “to feel regret for sins and crimes.” “Repentir” came from the Latin words “penitire” to regret, and “poenitire” to make sorry. It is the root source for our words penitentiary, penitent and penance and related to our word for “pain.”
Using this “repent” definition perverted the true “Gospel” (good news), and made Jesus’ central message to be something like: “Feel sorrow and regret and pain because the authority of heaven is at hand!” Seriously??? Does that sound like “good news” to you???
Capturing what Jesus meant by the word “metanoia,” his central message was: “The dimension and reality of God’s Kingdom is here now, but it’s going to require you to shift from the way you typically use your mind to the awareness of the Spirit inside you.”
I discuss this in much greater length in Inner Anarchy, as well as many other teachings of the Christian church that has misrepresented and distorted the true liberative message and teachings of Jesus.