“Repent” is the translation of the Greek word “metanoeo” which in classical Greek meant “to change one’s mind or purpose, to change one’s opinion.” The noun “metanoia” meant “a change of mind or reflection.” These two words used in classical Greek signified a change of mind regarding anything, but when brought over into the N.T., their usage is limited to a change of mind in the religious sphere – Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, vol. 3, “Vocabulary”, p. 28.
Dr. Lawrence Richards in Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, page 522 states, “In the New Testament, (the Gk. words) ‘metanoeo’ and ‘metanoia’ are used in the same way as (the Heb. word) ‘sub’ in the Old Testament – to emphasize a change of mind and attitude.” “Later, when Jesus had become the issue, the call to repentance was a call to change one’s mind about him and to make a personal commitment to him (Lk. 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38; 3:19).”
Dr. Merrill Unger in Unger’s Bible Dictionary, page 918 states, “Repentance (Gk. ‘metanoia’, means ‘a change of mind’).”
Dr. J.D. Douglas in The New Bible Dictionary, page 1084 states, “In the New Testament the terms ‘repent’ (metanoeo) and ‘repentance’ (metanoia) refer basically to a change of mind” – Drs. Vine, Unger, & White Jr. in An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, p. 952 agree.
That repentance means a change of thinking rather than a change of action (though a change of mind naturally leads to a change of action) can be seen from Matt. 3:8, Lk. 3:8, and Acts 26:20, where repentance is differentiated from its expected result/fruit/deeds/behavior.
Matt. 3:1-2 Why did John the Baptist tell the people in the wilderness of Judea to repent (change their thinking to realize their sinfulness and inadequacy to enter the kingdom of heaven rather than thinking they can enter simply because they were descendants of Abraham and they were to show this change of mind by confessing their sins in view of believing in the soon-to-come Messiah, Acts 19:4)?
Dr. L. Richards in Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, pages 377-382 states, “When we read the word ‘kingdom’ in the Bible, we must not introduce modern notions of a geographical area. The word simply indicates a realm in which a king exercises his power to act and control. The O.T. knows two different forms of God’s sovereign rule, or kingdom. (1) There is a universal kingdom. God controls all events in the universe but does so nearly always through providence (divine guidance or circumstances), so that His rule is hidden. (2) There is to be a visible earthly kingdom. In the future, Jesus will return to earth to rule in person over the whole world.
The N.T. adds another, previously unknown, form of the divine kingdom. This form, like that of the prophetic kingdom, is intimately linked with Jesus, for He is its king. When Jesus was on earth, this kingdom existed here. Although Jesus did not take up earthly political power (Jn. 18:36), the miracles He performed showed His authority over every competing power. But Jesus the king was rejected and crucified, as His enemies struggled to force His kingdom out of history.
But Jesus’ death was not the end. During His days on earth, Jesus explained what life under His rule (i.e., in His kingdom) would be like. It is best to take most Gospel descriptions of the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God (which should be treated as synonyms) as explanations of life in Jesus’ present kingdom. Here we are given powerful insights into how we can live today as Jesus’ subjects and experience His power. Because the new birth brings us into union with Jesus and brings Jesus in a unique way into our experience here on earth, we live in a day in which the king is present, though still disguised. Because Jesus is present, the unmatched power of God can find supernatural expression in and through our lives.
‘Kingdom’ in the Old Testament
In the O.T., ‘kingdom’ is best expressed by the idea of reign or sovereignty. One’s kingdom is the people or things over which he or she has authority or control.
In the O.T., ‘kingdom’ is most often used in the secular sense, to indicate the sphere of authority of human rulers. But the Bible does speak of God’s kingdom in two main ways.
First, the entire universe is God’s kingdom, for He exercises sovereign rule over all things at this present time (Psa. 103:19; 145:11-13; Dan. 4:3; 2 Chron. 13:8; Dan. 4:17, 5:21).
Second, the O.T. does look forward to a future expression of God’s now-disguised sovereignty. Then the kingdom will have a visible, earthly form. It will be ruled by the Messiah, when the kingdom will be the Lord’s (Dan. 2:44; 7:13-14, 27; Obadiah 1:21). His sovereignty will be recognized, and His authority will be acknowledged by all.
‘Kingdom’ in the New Testament
In the N.T., the ‘kingdom of God’ rather than being a physical place, is the realm in which God is in control.
In Jesus’ day, Palestine lay under Roman rule. Rome was only the latest in a centuries-long series of pagan overlords. Understandably, Israel longed for the kingdom the prophets foretold, one in which Israel’s enemies would be crushed, and God would enforce peace on all peoples. No wonder Jesus was looked to at first as the one who would establish the prophesied kingdom. Jesus’ own disciples, even late in His ministry and after His resurrection, expected Him to establish the visible kingdom soon (Matt. 20:21-23; Acts 1:6, 7). So when Jesus came, at first preaching the ‘gospel of the kingdom,’ it was natural that He was not understood. His listeners’ perceptions were shaped by their vision of the kingdom to come, and they could not grasp the fact that Jesus actually spoke, not of one of the two O.T. forms of the kingdom, but of yet another expression of God’s rule, yet another way in which God would act in human affairs.
In the N.T., it is important to remember the basic meaning of ‘Kingdom.’ It refers to the realm in which a ruler acts to carry out his will.
The Gospel of the Kingdom
When it was time for Jesus to begin His public ministry, John the Baptist began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matt. 3:2). God was about to break into history, to act in a bold, fresh way. This message, which was also the theme of Jesus’ early ministry (Matt. 4:17; Mk. 1:15), is ‘the good news of the kingdom’ (Matt. 4:23).
Jesus’ message was stronger than that of John. John said the kingdom was coming. Jesus announced that it had arrived! Confronting men who accused Him of doing His miracles by Satan’s power, Jesus said, ‘If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you’ (Matt. 12:28; Lk. 11:20). Most of Jesus’ miracles belong to this time period, the time of His preaching the gospel of the kingdom. The king had come and had demonstrated His power to act, revealing His authority over every natural and supernatural power. In the N.T., the kingdom and Jesus are inseparable, even as the concept of kingdom is meaningless apart from the person of the king.
In a significant sense then, any announcement of the gospel of the kingdom must focus on the person of Jesus, promising that He is or soon will be present, able to act in all His sovereign power.
There seem to be two periods of time when this particular message is presented. The first is seen in Jesus’ own historic announcement of His presence. Israel was called on to acknowledge the heavenly king and thus by faith step into that realm in which He would freely exercise His power for them (e.g., Matt. 3:2; 4:17, 23; 9:35; 10:7; Mk. 1:15; Lk. 4:43; 8:1; 9:2, 11, 60; 10:9-10). Jesus summed up this era by saying, ‘The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached’ (Lk. 16:16).
The second time will be just before Jesus’ return. Matthew 24 records Jesus’ answer to His disciples’ questions about history’s end. Jesus reviewed O.T. prophecy and said of that future time ‘This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come’ (24:14). It is clear from the context that this preaching is not of the Christian gospel of salvation but is the announcement to all that Jesus is again about to appear on earth.
There are, of course, other N.T. references to preaching and teaching about the kingdom (Acts 8:12; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31). Thus, the gospel of the kingdom – the good news that the king is at hand or is already present – is preached when Jesus personally is about to, or already has (at His first coming), stepped into history.
The gospel of the kingdom may be a technical theological term with narrow focus. But the N.T. teaching about the kingdom itself has a broader significance and touches our lives today.
The Present Kingdom
While He was on earth, Jesus taught much about an expression of the divine kingdom that was unrecognized in the O.T. When it was clear that Israel would not accept Christ as Messiah/King, Jesus began to speak of the kingdom in parables. And He began to speak of His death. When asked why He used parables, He told the disciples that ‘the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them’ (Matt. 13:11). Matthew points out that Jesus’ use of parables fulfilled the O.T. prophecy (Matt. 13:35; Mk. 4:10-13). It is best to take this ‘secret’ as a previously unrevealed expression of the divine kingdom – a way in which God acts in man’s world that is not known from the O.T.
The N.T. has much to say about this form of the kingdom, for this is the kingdom in which you and I are called to live in today.
The Present Kingdom in the Epistles
Most of what the Epistles have to say about the Christian life does not mention the kingdom. Yet it is clear that believers have been rescued by the Father from the domain of darkness and have been brought “into the kingdom of the Son He loves” (Col. 1:13). In Heb. 12:28 the writer uses the present active participle to affirm, “We are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.” A number of passages speak of inheriting the kingdom (1 Cor. 6:9-10; 15:50; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:5; James 2:5). Inheritance is viewed in the context of Roman law. At birth a child becomes an heir and has an established right to the possessions controlled by his father. Clearly, the N.T. presents another kingdom in addition to (1) the universal rule of God through providence and (2) the yet-future kingdom of prophecy (Rom. 14:17; 1 Cor. 4:20; Col. 1:12-13; 4:11; 1 Thes. 2:12; 2 Thes. 1:5; Rev. 1:6; 5:10). Still, the Epistles say less than the synoptic Gospels do about this other kingdom, possibly because it was necessary for Jesus to speak in kingdom terms before the language of resurrection could be established by His death and coming to life again.
Parables of the Kingdom
The theological basis for Jesus’ action in the present form of His kingdom is laid in the new birth. ‘No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” and “no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit’ (Jn. 3:3, 5). The new birth gives entrance into the kingdom – the realm in which Jesus’ sovereign power is translated into action on behalf of His people.
But why this stress on being born again? Perhaps because of the fact that when a person is born again, Jesus enters his or her life. And there He takes up permanent residence. Now and for all time Jesus is present in His people – in each believer and in the corporate body of Christ. In a mystical but real way, Jesus is present on earth in us. He is the key to release of the power needed to transform us and to shape the events that affect our lives according to His will.
This kingdom is here because Jesus is here. Because Jesus is here, the possibility of a new kind of life is laid open before us.
The Coming Kingdom
The N.T. never rejects the O.T.’s portrait of the future. There will be a kingdom on earth, and Jesus will rule over it in person. Although this is not a dominant theme in N.T. teaching, Jesus Himself confirms the O.T. vision of history’s end (Matt. 8:11, 12; 16:28; 25:1, 34; 26:29; Mk. 11:10; 14:25; 15:43; Lk. 13:28-29; 14:15; 21:31; Acts 1:6-7; cf. Matt. 20:21; Lk. 17:20; 19:11; 23:43, 51).
Sermon on the Mount
Drs. C. Pfeiffer and E. Harrison in The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, page 936 states, “The Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5 – 7) is not primarily a statement of principles for the Christian church (which was yet unrevealed), nor an evangelistic message for the unsaved, but a delineation of the principles that would characterize the Messianic kingdom Christ was announcing. Later, Israel’s rejection of her king delayed the coming of Christ’s visible, earthly rule/kingdom, but even now Christians, having given their allegiance to the king and having been made spiritually to anticipate some of the blessings of His kingdom (Col. 1:13), may see God’s ideal in this sublime discourse and will assent to its high standard.”
So John the Baptist told the people to repent because the Messiah’s earthly kingdom would be based on spiritual principles, and would therefore demand a right relationship with God for entrance into it.
Mk. 1:4-5, 7; Lk. 3:3-6, 15 Why was John the Baptist preaching a baptism of repentance (a baptism signifying an individual’s change of thinking from that of thinking that being a child of Abraham was a guarantee to getting into the kingdom (Matt. 3:2, 8-9) to that of thinking that he/she is sinful and, therefore, can’t trust in him/her self for salvation but rather to trust in the coming Messiah/Christ, Matt. 3:3; Acts 19:4)?
[Josephus, a Jewish historian who lived from A.D. 37-100, in his book Antiquities of the Jews XVIII, v. 2, makes it clear that repentance was the prerequisite for baptism by John.].
The basis for their “forgiveness of sins” was upon these individuals having repented (changed their thinking from believing that they were okay because they were God’s chosen people, children of Abraham, to realizing they were sinful and should confess their sins, Mk. 1:5, in anticipation of and belief in the coming Messiah in order to be acceptable by God for the kingdom – Matt. 3:2-3; Jn. 1:29-34; Acts 19:4). “Messiah” (Hebrew word – “mashiach”) meaning “Anointed One” is in Greek the word for “Christ” (“Christos”). The O.T. Scriptures portray the coming Messiah/Christ as a king/Prince (Dan. 7:13-14; 9:25-26; Zech. 9:9-10) who is both God’s Son (Psa. 2:7; 89:27; Mk. 14:61-64) and God Himself (Psa. 45:6-7; Isa. 7:14 with Matt. 1:23; Isa. 9:6; Jer. 23:5-6), who will have an everlasting rule/kingdom (Dan. 7:13-14; Isa. 9:7; Jer. 23:5-6), but is also a Servant (Isa. 42:1) and Redeemer from sins (Isa. 53:1-12). In the N.T., Jesus of Nazareth is seen as the fulfillment of the O.T. prediction of the Messiah/Christ (Mk. 8:29; Jn. 1:29, 36, 41; 4:25-26; Acts 2:36).
Baptism was merely the external sign (Matt. 3:11) of this inward attitude change and outward confession regarding sin and commitment to a holy life in anticipation of and belief in the coming Messiah/Christ (Acts 19:4) – The Bible Knowledge Commentary, NT, pp. 24, 211.
Also, the Greek word “eis”, which in Mk. 1:4 is translated “for” can and does here mean “because of”. So these people John baptized were so baptized because their sins were already forgiven due to the fact that they had already repented and believed in the coming Messiah who was “at hand”/near.
– The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p. 990; and Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, vol. 1, p. 18.
Matt. 3:2-3, 7-10; Lk. 3:7-9 What did John the Baptist tell these Pharisees and Sadduccees in verse 8, who were coming for baptism?
“To bring forth fruit in keeping with your repentance” means to show the genuineness of your repentance (change of mind, that you can’t save yourselves or put your trust in your heritage as God’s chosen people, but to rather trust in the Messiah who is near at hand, Acts 19:4) by/through your behavior/actions. According to Lk. 3:10-14, the fruit would include items like generosity, fairness, thoughtfulness, and contentment. And according to Matt. 23:23, it would include justice, mercy, and faith.
What did John the Baptist think was the real reason these Jewish religious leaders were coming for baptism, according to Matt. 3:9?
Having Abraham as their national father would not insure these Pharisees and Sadduccees against divine judgment (Matt. 3:7), nor grant them forgiveness of sins. These Jewish leaders believed that as physical descendants of Abraham, they were automatically qualified for the Messiah’s kingdom, but they were wrong.
Mk. 1:14-15; Matt. 4:12, 17 After John the Baptist was jailed, Jesus began preaching the gospel of God (that the kingdom of God was at hand) telling the people to do what?
Why did Jesus tell these people to repent (i.e., change their thinking about trusting in themselves) and believe (trust in) the gospel (i.e., in Jesus Himself, Jn. 1:29-34; Acts 19:4, as the Messiah – The Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 107)?
Mk. 6:1, 7, 12; Matt. 10:7; Lk. 17:20-21 After Jesus sent out His 12 disciples, what did they preach?
“Repent” here means a change of mind regarding not trusting in themselves but to believe in the Messiah who was among them (see Jn. 1:29-34; Acts 19:4).
Matt. 11:20-23 Why did Jesus reproach cities like Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum for not repenting (change their thinking as to whom Jesus is, that He’s the Messiah)?
What should these miracles by Jesus have shown the people about Who Jesus is/was (Matt. 11:3-5; Isa. 35:4-6; 61:1-2; Lk. 4:18-21)?
Lk. 16:19-31 What did the rich man, who died and went to suffer in torment in Hades, tell Abraham would happen if Lazarus rose from the dead and went to his (the rich man’s) five brothers to warn them, vs. 30?
Why does Abraham say that these five brothers wouldn’t be persuaded to repent (change their thinking and accept Jesus as the Christ/Messiah) if someone rose from the dead, vs. 31?
Moses (Deut. 18:15, 18) and the Prophets (Isa. 53; 42:1-4; 9:6-7; 61:1-3) had pointed to a coming Messiah (Jesus) who would deliver people from their sins and give them entrance into His kingdom. But most people didn’t listen to them.
Lk. 24:46-47 What did Jesus tell His disciples should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations because He, the Christ, had died and rose again?
“In this name” (because of who Jesus Christ is) connects repentance and forgiveness.
“Jesus” (Gk. word – “Iesous”) is a transliteration of the Hebrew “Joshua” meaning “Jehovah is salvation” or “Savior/Deliverer”. Mary’s child is called “Jesus” because He would save His people from their sins – Matt. 1:21.
“Christ” (Gk. word – “Christos”) has already been discussed in the note under the Mark 1:4-5 passage.
So to proclaim repentance (changing one’s thinking from trusting in one’s self to trusting in Jesus Christ) for the forgiveness of sins in His (because of Jesus Christ’s) name (who He is – the Savior) is to tell people to trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ, that His death payment for their sins is what gives them forgiveness and not their good life or works or commandment-keeping.
Are you proclaiming this message to all the nations, starting where you live, and why?
Acts 2:36-38 What did Peter tell these Jews to do for the forgiveness of their sins?
“Repent”, here in context, means “to change one’s outlook/thinking from one of rejection of Christ as the Son of God and Savior, Acts 2:36, to one of trust in Him as Lord and Messiah”, Acts 2:36, (Dr. L. Richards’ Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, p. 522; and The Bible Knowledge Commentary, NT, p. 359.), from one of viewing Him as a false prophet and demon-possessed, Jn. 8:48, to one of believing in Him as the Savior and the Son of God.
That baptism is not a requirement for the forgiveness of sins can be seen from either of the following two explanations:
First, the clause “and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” can be viewed as a parenthetical. Several factors support this interpretation: (a) The verse makes a distinction between singular and plural verbs and nouns. The verb “repent” is plural and so is the pronoun “your” in the clause “for the forgiveness of your sins”. Therefore the verb “repent” must go with its purpose of forgiveness of sins. On the other hand, the imperative “be baptized” is singular, setting it off from the rest of the sentence. (b) This concept fits with Peter’s proclamation in Acts 10:43 in which the same expression “sins may be forgiven” occurs. There it is granted on the basis of faith alone. (c) In Lk. 24:47 and Acts 3:19; 5:31 the same writer, Luke, indicates that repentance results in forgiveness of sins. (d) In Acts 13:38, 39 and 26:18, Luke also records that forgiveness of sins is by faith alone in Jesus – The Bible Knowledge Commentary, NT, p. 359.
Or, second, “baptism” is based on “the forgiveness of their sins”. The preposition “for” here is the Greek word “eis” which, with the accusative case, may mean “on account of, on the basis of”. It is used in this way in Matt. 3:11 and Mk. 1:4. So the verse is really saying, “…be baptized on account of/because of (not, in order to have) the forgiveness of your sins” – The Bible Knowledge Commentary, NT, p. 359.
The ultimate meaning of the word “Lord” (Greek word – “kurios”) when used in reference to Jesus Christ means Supreme Ruler – Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, p. 418.
Acts 3:14-20 What did Peter tell these Jews to do so that their sins may be wiped away?
“Repent”, here in context, means “to change their thinking by acknowledging the wrong they had done both in denying Jesus as the Holy and Righteous One (Acts 3:14) and in killing Him (Acts 3:15), and to now trust in Him as the Messiah” (Acts 3:18).
– Dr. Richards’ Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, p. 522; and A. Gaebelein’s The Acts of the Apostles, p. 78.
“Return” means to turn back to the one true God and His view of Jesus (Acts 3:13-15, 18) as the Messiah/Christ – F.F. Bruce’s The Book of Acts, p. 90.
Acts 5:30-31 What does Jesus, as Prince and Savior, grant/give to Israel?
God in Jesus is the One who gives, to the people of His choosing, repentance (the change of mind from disbelief to trust in Him/Jesus as the Messiah/Savior – Eph. 2:8-9; 1:4-5, 11; Jn. 6:44, 65) and, thereby, the forgiveness of sins.
– F.F. Bruce’s The Book of Acts, p. 121.
[It’s not our supposed free will choice of Christ as Savior, but God’s giving us this predestined belief, Acts 13:48; 16:14.].
Acts 11:12-18 What has God granted to the Gentiles also – vs. 18?
God has given to the Gentiles of His choosing, like Cornelius and his friends, repentance (i.e., the change of mind to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ) which results in life eternal – F. F. Bruce’s The Book of Acts, p. 236.
Acts 17:16-18, 29-31 Why did Paul say that “all everywhere should repent” (change their thinking from idolatry to faith in the one true God and the resurrected Jesus Christ) – vs. 31?
Acts 20:18-21, 24-25 What had Paul solemnly testified/declared to both Jews and Greeks – vs. 21?
“Repentance toward God” means, changing one’s mind from disbelief toward the one true God (since they were idolatrous, Acts 19:26-28) to belief in the one true God.
Acts 26:19-23 In obedience to his heavenly vision (vs. 19; 9:15, 20, 22), what did Paul declare both to Jews and Gentiles (vs. 20)?
“Repent”, here, is to change their attitude/thinking about their condition, to realize that they are guilty sinners rather than good people and, therefore, in need of a Savior (vss. 22-23; 9:15, 20, 22).
“Turn to God” means to turn to the one true God in faith, believing in God the Son as their Savior.
“Deeds appropriate to repentance” means actions/behavior evidencing true conversion or proving their repentance (change of mind) by their actions/deeds. Good/righteous works, actions, behavior is the evidence of genuine repentance (change of thinking to faith in Christ), Jas. 2:17.
Rom. 2:4 What does Paul tell the self-righteous Jew it is that leads him to repentance (a change of mind, to realize they are sinners in need of a Savior and trusting in Jesus Christ as such)?
The “kindness of God” is God giving certain sinners the change of mind (Acts 5:31; 11:18) to trust God instead of their self-righteousness, Rom. 2:1, 3, 19-23.
Heb. 6:1 What foundational teachings were these dull, immature, baby Christians (5:11-13) not to lay again (be stuck on; constantly stagnate on)?
“Repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” describes the believer’s response to the gospel. In the gospel, the sinner learns that all his efforts to please God are merely dead works (Heb. 9:14), and his only hope for salvation is a complete reversal of attitude/mind. He must cease trusting in (change his thinking about) his own righteousness (which is no real goodness at all – Rom. 3:10-12; Isa. 64:6) and must receive by faith God’s gift of salvation in Christ – Homer Kent’s The Epistle to the Hebrews, p. 106.
2 Pet. 3:9 What does the Lord wish/want?
The word “wishing” in Greek (“boulomai”) means to “will or purpose deliberately”.
– Vine’s An Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, p. 291.
The determined will/purpose of God is inevitable, irresistible, and immutable – Rom. 9:19; 11:29; Heb. 6:17; Eph. 1:11; Acts 4:27-28.
The word “any” in context refers to “believers” [the word “you” in verse 9 refers to the “beloved” in verses 1 and 8. And the “beloved” refers to those whom Peter is writing this letter to in 1:1, “those who have received a faith of the same kind” – as Peter’s – i.e., believers/Christians, or God’s chosen ones (1 Pet. 1:1-2), as this is the second letter to these same people, 2 Pet. 3:1.].
The word “perish” (Gk. “apoleis”) here means “eternal perdition; hell”.
– Vine’s An Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, p. 295.
So the Lord’s “not wishing for any to perish” means that He does not purpose/will for any of those who are yet to believe (His elect, who were chosen/predestined to be saved from before the foundation/creation of the world – Eph. 1:4-14; Acts 13:48; Rom. 8:28-30; 11:29; Matt. 24:22) to perish/go to hell, but for all (His elect/predestined ones) to come to repentance (faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior).
– Matthew Henry’s Commentary, vol. 3, p. 1338; and Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, p. 1493.
“All” (Gk. – “pantas” is in the plural, masculine, dative without a preceding article), here, means “all of a certain kind” of people (God’s predestined/elect/chosen/called-to-be-saved ones) – in other words, future believers (1 Pet. 1:1-2; 2 Thes. 2:13; Acts 13:48; Rom. 9:11-24) – Vine’s An Expository Dictionary of Bible Words.
“Repentance”, here, means a change of mind to now realize and believe in Jesus as the Messiah/Christ and Savior.
So the Lord is waiting until the full number of those whom He appointed to salvation (repentance) is completed before He returns in judgment – Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, p. 1493.
Repent/repentance for those who are already believers or Christians means:
Lk. 17:3-4 If a believer repents (changes his thinking and, therefore, turns from wrong to right actions toward you), what should you do?
2 Tim. 2:25 The Lord’s servant/minister should correct erring believers with the hope that God may grant them repentance (a change from wrong thinking/believing to right thinking/believing on biblical issues, 2 Tim. 2:14, 16, 18, 23) leading to what?
2 Cor. 7:9-10 Why was Paul rejoicing that these believers were made sorrowful to the point of repentance (changing their thinking about what they were doing being wrong to what they should do and, therefore, lead them to do what is right)?