metamelomai [regret, remorse, and repentance]

metamelomai, regret, remorse, repentance

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. director of family ministry at st. edward's episcopal church. president of fistbump media, llc.

September 12, 2011

Judas, the one who betrayed him, realized that Jesus was doomed. Overcome with remorse, he gave back the thirty silver coins to the high priests,”

Matthew 27:3 (The Message)

One of the words used in the Greek to help us understand repentance is metamelomai. It’s literal definition is “To regret, repent.” It’s the word used in this passage (above) to tell us about the remorse that Judas felt as he realized the impact of his betrayal of Jesus.

Metamelomai is an important part of the process of repentance, but is it by itself enough?

Feeling remorse and/or regret for our sinful actions is important necessary in the process of repentance and salvation. But these feelings are meaningless unless they prompt behavioral change that continues long after the emotions have subsided.

How often do we see people making emotionally charged decisions at evangelistic meetings when confronted with the impact and consequence of their sin? Yep… we see it all the time. The problem is that these kinds of decisions typically result in a high level of backsliding, because of the lack of understanding and resolve to really make a significant change in one’s life.

To put it another way, let me share a personal experience.

I smoked a pack to pack-and-a-half of cigarettes a day for about 12 years. There were many times that I knew it was important for me to quit. Sometimes it was simply because I started to realize the financial impact of the habit, other times it was because I was smacked in the face with the health risks. But each time I tried to quit, I didn’t really WANT to quit. I still wanted to smoke, regardless of the risks that prompted me to feel bad for doing it.

In order to experience true repentance we must feel regret and remorse. But I’m sure that feeling bad wasn’t enough for Judas. The dude ended up going crazy and killing himself.

What we need in addition to metamelomai is metanoeo… arriving at a different view of things. In Matthew 12:41 Jesus talks about how the people of Nineveh repented. They changed their minds and actions.

Regret and remorse for our actions are important, but true repentance must also involve a changing of our mind and behavior. Repentance is an emotional experience, but also a mental and physical one.

Have you ever experienced repentance (a turning around) that was merely emotional? What’s your story?


  1. Eileen

    Your words are so true.  Lasting repentance comes with a complete change of heart and change of perspective. When I struggled with an addiction to alcohol years ago it wasn’t enough to keep trying hard to quit. Because, like you, I didn’t want to quit.  Once I acknowledged to the Lord that I didn’t desire to quit then I began asking for Him to change my heart and give me the desire.  Repentance didn’t “stick” until I finally started to see the issue through His eyes.

    • @bibledude

      Breaking away from sinful patterns is very much like struggling with addictions. There’s a need to want to make a change, but the actual breaking of the addiction doesn’t stop there… it has to happen at a lot of different levels. But you’re right in saying that we need to rely on and God and see our issues through His eyes in order for us to get this right…

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Cdbailey36

    What a fantastic post.

    • @bibledude

      What a fantastic comment!

  3. Richard B Jones

    Can you tell me what different between metamelomai, metanoeo, and metanoia? Thanks
    Richard (Deaf pastor)


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metamelomai [regret, remorse, and repentance]

by Dan King time to read: 2 min