One of the accusations made against Paul by those within the Hebrew Roots Movement is that the theme of repentance missing in Paul’s letters in the New Testament?
This is not true and it can easily to be refuted.
Did Paul constantly address repentance in all of his letters? Of course not! There wasn’t a need for Paul to address repentance every time he wrote a letter. Among Paul’s letters were those he wrote to Timothy and Titus, whom he had discipled. Timothy and Titus were servants of the Lord who had already repented of their sins.
The same can be said for the believers at Ephesus. Consider the following from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Ephesians 1:1-2
Notice to whom Paul was writing. He was writing to the saints, and to those who were faithful in Christ Jesus. These were believers who had already repented and turned to the Lord. Why would Paul harp on the theme of repentance if they had already repented, and were serving the Lord?
In verses 15 & 16 Paul says, “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers…”
Paul doesn’t need to address the subject of repentance in this letter to the Ephesians, because the saints to whom he was writing had already repented and were serving God. So what does Paul do in response? He prays for them, and encourages them, and expounds on the mystery of redemption in Christ. Paul also instructs them concerning godly living in chapters 4-5, and how to stand against the strategies of the devil in chapter 6.
Now consider Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Paul begins his letter by saying the following:
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit. ~ Colossians 1:1-8
Notice that Paul is writing to “the saints and faithful brethren in Christ.” They were walking in Christian love and bearing forth fruit for the kingdom of God. Paul did not need to tell them to repent, they had already repented and were serving God.
However, Paul does address repentance when there is a need for repentance. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul confronts the Corinthian believers for allowing the sin of fornication in their midst.
It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. ~1 Corinthians 5:1-2
Paul’s rebuke of the Corinthians moved them to repentance. In 2 Corinthians 7, Paul says the following to them:
For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world works death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. ~ 2 Corinthians 7:8-11
Later in 2 Corinthians, Paul expresses his concern about the lack of repentance of some among them.
For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:20-21
So did Paul address repentance in his letters? When repentance was needed, he absolutely did.