|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
Verses 16, 17. - And Simon he surnamed Peter. Our Lord had previously declared that Simon should be so called. But St. Mark avoids as much as possible the recognition of any special honor belonging to St. Peter; so he here simply mentions the fact of this surname having been given to him, a fact which was necessary in order that he might be identified. All the early Christian writers held that Peter was virtually the author of this Gospel. Simon, or Simeon, is from a Hebrew word, meaning "to hear." James the son of Zebedee, so called to distinguish him from the other James; and John his brother. In St. Matthew's list, Andrew is mentioned next after Peter, as his brother, and the first called. But here St. Mark mentions James and John first after Peter; these three, Peter and James and John, being the three leading apostles. Of James and John, James is mentioned first, as the eldest of the two brothers. And them he surnamed Boanerges, which is, Sons of thunder. "Boanerges" is the Aramaic pronunciation of the Hebrew B'ne-ragesh; B'ne, sons, and ragesh, thunder. The word was not intended as a term of reproach; although it fitly expressed that natural impetuosity and vehemence of character, which showed itself in their desire to bring down fire from heaven upon the Samaritan village, and in their ambitious request that they might have the highest places of honor in his coming kingdom. But their natural dispositions, under the Holy Spirit's influence, were gradually transformed so as to serve the cause of Christ, and their fiery zeal was transmuted into the steady flame of Christian earnestness and love, so as to become an element of great power in their new life as Christians. Christ called these men "Sons of thunder" because he would make their natural dispositions, when restrained and elevated by his grace, the great instruments of spreading his Gospel. He destined them for high service in his kingdom. By their holy lives they were to be as lightning, and by their preaching they were to be as thunder to rouse unbelievers, and to bring them to repentance and a holy life. It was no doubt on account of this zeal that James fell so early a victim to the wrath of Herod. A different lot was that which fell to St. John. Spared to a ripe old age, he influenced the early Church by his writings and his teaching. His Gospel begins as with the voice of thunder, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Beza and others, followed by Dr. Morisen, have thought that this distinctive name was given by our Lord to the two brothers on account of some deep-toned peculiarity of voice, which was of much service to them in impressing the message of the Gospel of the kingdom upon their hearers.
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And Simon he surnamed Peter. Or Cephas, which signifies a rock, or stone, because of his courage and constancy, his strength and fortitude, steadiness and firmness of mind: this name was imposed upon him, not at the time of his mission as an apostle; nor when he made that noble confession of his faith in Christ, as the Son of the living God, at which time this name was taken notice of; but when Christ first called him to be his disciple and apostle; see John 1:42.
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