Seven texts (or motifs) have been analyzed to discover that the concept of repentance is present in the FG. Not all of the arguments are equally convincing. Here is the list of arguments in order from the strongest to the weakest:
(1) The FG’s Paraphrase of Isaiah 6:10: 12:40
(2) Stop sinning: 5:14 (8:11)
(3) Light and Darkness Motif: 3:19–21; 8:12; 9:5
(4) The Snake in the Wilderness: 3:14–15 and Num 21:4–9
(5) Born Again or Born From Above: 3:3–5
(6) Belief and Obedience: 3:36
(7) Abiding in the Vine: 15:1–5
The Abiding Passage in John 15 contained three possible arguments, but only one stood the test: “apart from me” is conceptually the opposite of repentance. In John 3:36, obedience was described as the outcome of both belief and repentance. While the discussion about being “born from above” has its exegetical difficulties, the translation of “from above” over “again” or “anew” and Ezekiel 36 being an OT background are a fairly solid foundation to understanding the passage. Since regeneration is the overall theme, of which repentance is a part, the concept is contained within this passage. This is, admittedly, a veiled reference to our concept. The background text to John 3:14–15 fairly clearly contains the picture of Israelites repenting. The Numbers 21 text is specifically the background text and there are no reservations in commending a reference to repentance in this text. The light and darkness motif contains the third strongest argument for repentance. The picture of those in unbelief fleeing the Light and those who believe coming to the Light portrayed the previously understood definition of repentance. The analysis of this passage concluded that every time the FG mentions believing (after 3:21), the concept of repentance should be kept in mind. The man whom Jesus healed in John 5 and then told to “stop sinning” contained the second strongest connection to repentance. Finally, the Johannine paraphrase of Isa 6:9–10 actually contains the term used for repentance in the LXX.
While repentance cannot be said to be an overwhelming theme of the FG, it should not be considered absent. Those claiming that since the FG contains no references to repentance then Christians should avoid referring to the concept in evangelism and gospel presentations may not have studied close enough the conceptual links to repentance in the FG.