Bible Verse: For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. Matthew 21:32
Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:28-32
Jesus links the first two commands, repent and believe, closely together – not only in the proclamation of his revolutionary Good News (Mark 1:15), but also in his exhortations, as in his words to the Jewish leaders after the parable of the two sons: “And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him” (Matthew 21:32 NIV, emphasis added).
Indeed, repenting and believing are part of the same process of coming humbly to God. There may be some truth to the simple idea that repenting represents the negative side (the turning away from sin and darkness) and that believing is the positive side (the turning toward God and the light). But it seems that both are described in the Scriptures as human responses to God – calling for our willing participation – and as divine gifts to human hearts that are seeking after God.
In the book of Acts, sometimes the whole process of coming to God is captured solely with the word “repentance (17:30) and sometimes just with the word “faith” (4:4). If only repenting is mentioned, it certainly doesn’t mean that believing was absent. Likewise, if only faith is mentioned, it doesn’t mean that repentance was absent or unnecessary. Both are key themes in the Scriptures from beginning to end, and are commanded by God. Furthermore, while both repenting and believing may have crucial significance in the early life of a believer, they remain essential throughout the life of a disciple.
— Herbert Klassen in Obedient Love