In English the word repent carries the meaning of sincere regret or remorse; however, in the Biblical Greek it comes from a combination of the preposition after (μετα) and the word mind (νοἐω), resulting in the meaning, ‘to change the mind”. This is a process in the mind that happens when someone is presented with a fact that changes their mind about a truth. Remorse and regret have no part in the changing of mind; rather, they are an emotional response to someone knowing they have done wrong.
In Scripture the context is very important to determine what a person is to change their mind about (repent). A fact is presented to the listeners. When they repent they are changing their mind about this information and taking it as truth.
When it comes to the Gospel message, salvation is given by grace, which is God’s attitude whereby He gives a benefit without consideration of merit, so the response to the facts presented is not to repent of one’s sins, that is, to be remorseful or regretful of the wrong done, but to change the mind about the fact that salvation only comes by taking God at His Word – He states that when we believe that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day that He will save us.
Changing of the mind is a process with direct and lasting affects on a person.