Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.…
Surely we have here an excellent summary of distinctive Christian doctrine. These two things are the essentials of Christian truth. Without repentance there can be no living faith; without faith there can be no real spiritual life; with both of these, a man is a recognized citizen of the kingdom of God, an inheritor of eternal life. There must be -
I. THE TURNING OF THE HEART AND LIFE UNTO GOD. This is what constitutes repentance. Repentance may include, but is not constituted by:
1. Strong feelings of sorrow and shame in view of past sin. It is possible and even common to produce very pungent and powerful feelings by means of energetic oratory; but these, if they are not real, profound convictions, will be temporary, if not even momentary; they are not the essential thing. Repentance will, at some time, include strong feeling of abhorrence of sin, but it may net commence with vivid and convulsive emotions, and is not to be identified with these.
2. Change of outward behavior. It is indeed true that, when really penitent, the idolater will abandon his idolatry, the thief his dishonesty, the drunkard his intemperance, the liar his falsehoods, the truculent man his violence, etc.; but it must be remembered that men sometimes change their habits for other reasons than those of religious conviction. Amendment in outward behavior, valuable and desirable as it is, does not constitute "repentance unto God;" it has also to be considered that there may be, and often is, the truest repentance where there is no alteration of conduct observable by man. The essence of repentance is the turning of the heart to God, and therefore of the life; it is that "change of mind" which consists in the soul turning from forgetfulness of God to thoughtfulness about him, from indifference to his claims to earnest consideration of them, from unwillingness to own his sway to a perfect readiness to yield everything to him, from the guilty retention of our powers for ourselves to a cheerful surrender of ourselves and our days to the living God, our Father and our Redeemer. Thence will follow all the compunction for sin and all the change of conduct which the past career of the soul will demand. Of this "Greek and Jew" alike have need: the Greek (the Gentile) has need to change his thought of God, and the Jew his also; whether from superstition, or from indifference, or from formality, all have to come into a different relation to God - that of humble subjection to his will and surrender to his service.
II. THE ACCEPTANCE OF JESUS CHRIST AS LORD AND SAVIOR. "And faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." The faith of which Paul testified to Greek and Jew was, we are sure, a living power. It was not a mere passive assent to a form of sound words. It was more than an intellectual acceptance of certain propositions. It was the cordial, hearty acceptance by the soul of a Divine Savior and Lord; it was the soul in all its need welcoming a Redeemer in all his strength to save and bless. It meant that acceptance of Jesus Christ in which the soul, conscious of sin and condemnation, flees to him as to the Rock in which it can hide; in which the heart, recognizing its rightful Lord, goes to him in glad self-surrender, and yields itself to him that he may
(1) guide it in his own paths,
(2) use it for his own glory, and
(3) conduct it to his own kingdom. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.