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It is written:
“And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
What does it mean that God “perhaps will grant them repentance?”
Does this teach the Calvinistic idea that God will allow repentance only to those who were unconditionally elected to salvation before the foundation of the world, and the rest will be dammed because they were predestined to Hell?
Not at all.
First, repentance is something which humans do; indeed, it is something which we are commanded to do!
Acts 2:38-Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 17:30-31-Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
Clearly, repentance is a command to be obeyed.
Second, the phrase “grant repentance” was a common Jewish expression that simply meant to provide time and opportunity for those who were lost to hear the Gospel and be saved. Notice:
Acts 5:31-Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.
Acts 11:18-When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”
In both of these instances, God had “granted repentance” by allowing the Jews and the Gentiles the opportunity to hear His Word being proclaimed. Anytime God allows us life and opportunity to hear His Word proclaimed, He is granting us the possibility of repentance; for it is through the Word of God that repentance is produced:
J.W. McGarvey described this powerfully:
“But to grant repentance can not mean to bestow it upon men without an exercise of their own will; for repentance is enjoined upon men as a duty to be performed by them. How, then, can that which is a duty to be performed, be said to be granted to us? We will readily perceive the answer to this question, by remembering that repentance is produced by sorrow for sin, and that it belongs to God to furnish men with the facts which will awaken this sorrow. Without revelation, men would never be made to feel that sorrow for sin which works repentance; but in the revelation of Jesus Christ we are furnished with the chief of these motives, and because of this, he is said to grant repentance.” (J.W. McGarvey, Original Commentary On Acts Of The Apostles, 1904-1912 (Kindle Edition))
Indeed, is that not what Paul is discussing here in our passage under consideration? He is describing how the servant of the Lord must cultivate the proper attitudes in reaching out to those who are lost, when God provides that opportunity.
We see again how our Calvinist neighbors misuse Scripture to try and justify their heinous doctrine of unconditional election.
We are also reminded how a simply study of the context and content of the Scriptures quickly puts these unbiblical teachings to flight.