Mark 3:17
And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Boanerges.—The word is an Aramaic compound (B’nè-regesh = sons of thunder). We may see in the name thus given a witness to the fiery zeal of the sons of Zebedee, seen, e.g., in their wish to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritans (Luke 9:54), and John’s desire to stop the work of one who cast out devils (Luke 9:49), or the prayer of the two brothers that they might sit on their Lord’s right hand and on His left in His kingdom (Matthew 20:21). It was, we may well believe, that burning zeal that made James the proto-martyr of the Apostolic company (Acts 12:2). We can scarcely fail to trace in the multiplied “thunderings and voices” of the Apocalypse (Revelation 4:5; Revelation 6:1; Revelation 8:5), and in the tradition of John’s indignant shrinking from contact with the heretic Cerinthus. that which was in harmony with the spiritual being of the Seer, and with the name which his Lord had thus given him.

Mark 3:17. James and John he surnamed Boanerges — “This word,” says Dr. Hammond, “is the corruption of the Hebrew בני רעשּׁ, benei ragnash, sons of earthquake, tempest, or any other commotion, such as is here styled, βροντη, thunder. And the meaning of this title may seem to be, that those two sons of Zebedee were to be special, eminent ministers of the gospel, which is called, Hebrews 12:26, φονη την γην γαλευουσα, a voice shaking the earth, taken from Haggai 2:7, which is directly the periphrasis of רעשּׁ, which is here rendered thunder, in the notion wherein φονη, voice, and βροντη, thunder, are promiscuously used for the same thing.” If the learned reader will consult Dr. Lightfoot and Grotius, he will receive further information concerning the derivation of the word Boanerges. Whitby thinks, “Christ gave James and John this name from a foresight of the heat and zeal of their temper, of which they quickly gave an instance in their desire to call down fire from heaven to consume the Samaritans. Hence we find, in the Acts, Peter and John are the chief speakers and actors in the defence and propagation of the gospel; and the zeal of James and Peter seems to be the reason why the one was slain by Herod, and the other imprisoned in order to the like execution.” Doubtless our Lord, in giving them this name, had respect to three things: the warmth and impetuosity of their spirits, their fervent manner of preaching, and the power of their word.3:13-21 Christ calls whom he will; for his grace is his own. He had called the apostles to separate themselves from the crowd, and they came unto him. He now gave them power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils. May the Lord send forth more and more of those who have been with him, and have learned of him to preach his gospel, to be instruments in his blessed work. Those whose hearts are enlarged in the work of God, can easily bear with what is inconvenient to themselves, and will rather lose a meal than an opportunity of doing good. Those who go on with zeal in the work of God, must expect hinderances, both from the hatred of enemies, and mistaken affections of friends, and need to guard against both.Boanerges - This word is made up of two Hebrew words signifying "sons of thunder," meaning that they, on some accounts, "resembled" thunder. See the notes at Matthew 1:1. It is not known why this name was given to James and John. They are nowhere else called by it. Some suppose it was because they wished to call down fire from heaven and consume a certain village of the Samaritans, Luke 9:54. It is, however, more probable that it was on account of something fervid, and glowing, and powerful in their genius and eloquence. Mr 3:13-19. The Twelve Apostles Chosen.

See on [1412]Lu 6:12-19.

See Poole on "Mark 3:16" And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James,.... These are mentioned next, as being first called after Peter and Andrew:

and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, the sons of thunder: either because of their loud and sonorous voice; or their warm zeal for Christ, and fervency in their ministry: or for their courage in opposing the enemies of Christ, and the power that went along with their words; which either put to confusion and silence, or issued in conviction and conversion. The Syriac version reads, "Benai Regesh", and the Persic, "Beni Reg'sch". The Jews, as our learned countryman Mr. Broughton has observed (w), sometimes pronounce "Scheva" by on, as Noabyim", for "Nebyim"; so here, "Boanerges" for Benereges", or "Benerges". There is a city which was in the tribe of Dan, mentioned in Joshua 19:45, which is called "Bene-berak, the sons of lightning"; and is spoken of in the Jewish (x) writings, as a place where several of the Rabbins met, and conversed together: the reason of this name may be inquired after.

(w) Broughton's Requ. of Consent, in his Works, p. 620. (x) Haggada Shel Pesach. p. 6. Ed. Rittangel. & in Seder Tephillot, Ed. Basil, fol. 243. 1. Juchasin, fol. 36. 1.

And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Mark 3:17. Βοανεργές = בְּנֵי רֶגֶש as pronounced by Galileans; in Syrian = sons of thunder; of tumult, in Hebrew. Fact mentioned by Mk. only. Why the name was given not known. It does not seem to have stuck to the two disciples, therefore neglected by the other evangelists. It may have been an innocent pleasantry in a society of free, unrestrained fellowship, hitting off some peculiarity of the brothers. Mk. gives us here a momentary glimpse into the inner life of the Jesus-circle—Peter, whose new name did live, doubtless the voucher. The traditional interpretation makes the epithet a tribute to the eloquence of the two disciples (διὰ τὸ μέγα καὶ διαπρύσιον ἠχῆσαι τῇ οἰκουμένῃ τῆς θεολογίας τὰ δόγματα. Victor Ant.).17. ii. James the son of Zebedee and Salome (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40), a native of Bethsaida, commonly known as James “the Great,” the first of the Apostolic body to suffer martyrdom, and the only one of the Twelve whose death is actually recorded in the New Testament.

iii. John] the brother of James, who never in his Gospel calls himself by this name, but sometimes “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; John 19:26), sometimes “the other disciple” (John 18:15; John 20:2-3). To him our Lord committed the care of His earthly mother. These brothers were surnamed by our Lord, according to St Mark, Boanerges, i. e. “sons of thunder,” in allusion we may believe to the fiery intrepid zeal which marked their character. Of this feature we have traces in Luke 9:54; Mark 9:38; Mark 10:37.Mark 3:17. Ἰάκωβον, James) He calls to Him.—ὀνόματα, names) The plural intimates that this name applied even to each of the two separately [Vers. Germ. maintains, on the contrary, that it was only conjointly they seem to have been honoured with this surname. This is the only passage in which the surname of James and John is mentioned, whereas that of Peter occurs frequently].—βοανεργὲς, Boanerges) “Without doubt Christ by this name alludes (בני ריגשא) to the two Scribes, who, in the Sanhedrim, were wont to sit, one on the right hand, the other on the left of the high priest, of whom the former used to collect the votes of acquittal, the latter those of condemnation, and Christ applies this judicial custom of the Sanhedrim to His spiritual kingdom;” Mellant, Sac., p. 36, 37. The etymology of the surname is somewhat differently traced out by Hiller; Onom., p. 117, 699.—ὑιοὶ βροντῆς, sons of thunder) A magnificent appellation. Thunder in Scripture is something both terrible and Joyous. So also the Gospel strikes terror into the world, and brings joy and gain to the godly. John in his mildness has, notwithstanding the hidden force of thunder, especially in his testimony as to the Godhead of Jesus Christ; comp. John 12:29; John 12:28; and in the Revelation he has written out the account of very many thunders; and he himself heard utterances of thunders, which he was forbidden to write out; Revelation 10:3-4. Hiller, in the passage quoted from him, says, “The thunder-bolt (lightning) is the son of thunder, inasmuch as it accompanies the crashing sound which proceeds from the rent clouds.”Although Mark mentions that the apostles were sent: out in pairs (Mark 6:7), he does not classify them here in pairs. But he alone throws Peter and James and John, the three who shared the Lord's particular intimacy, into one group. Matthew and Luke both introduce Andrew between Peter and James.

He surnamed them Boanerges (ἐπέθηκεν αὐτοῖς ὄνομα Βοανηργές)

Lit., he put upon them the name. Some uncertainty attaches to both the origin and the application of the name. Most of the best texts read ὀνόματα, names, instead of name. This would indicate that each of the two was surnamed a "son of thunder." Some, however, have claimed that it was a dual name given to them as a pair, as the name Dioscuri was given to Castor and Pollux. The reason of its bestowal we do not know. It seems to have been intended as a title of honor, though not perpetuated like the surname Peter, this being the only instance of its occurrence; possibly because the inconvenience of a common surname, which would not have sufficiently designated which of them was intended, may have hindered it from ever growing into an appellation. It is justified by the impetuosity and zeal which characterized both the brothers, which prompted them to suggest the calling of fire from heaven to consume the inhospitable Samaritan village (Luke 9:54); which marked James as the victim of an early martyrdom (Acts 12:2); and which sounds in the thunders of John's Apocalypse. The Greek Church calls John Βροντόφωνος, the thunder-voiced. The phrase, sons of, is a familiar Hebrew idiom, in which the distinguishing characteristic of the individual or thing named is regarded as his parent. Thus sparks are sons of fire (Job 5:7); threshed corn is son of the floor (Isaiah 21:10). Compare son of perdition (John 17:12); sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 5:6).

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