Mark 3:19


1. It was formally commenced in retirement. We may suppose a season of devotion. The absence of public excitement or external interference was evidently desired.

2. The utmost freedom existed on both sides. He called "whom he himself would: and they went unto him? There was no coercion. The highest principles and emotions were addressed. On the one hand, the teaching and the work of the Master were not dominated by the influence now associated with him; nor, on the other, was their service other than the fret of enthusiasm, intelligent conviction, and willing sympathy.

II. REPUTATION WAS RECEIVED FROM CHRIST BY HIS SERVANTS, NOT CONFERRED BY THEM. The names are all of men in humble life, with no previous distinction of shy kind. They were names common enough in Palestine. But their connection with Christ has immortalized them. How many have come to the Saviour in similar circumstances, and have received the reflected renown of his name! He makes the best out of the poor materials of human nature, and bestows what human nature in its greatest circumstances and moods could never of itself have produced. Men are honored in being made the servants of Christ.

III. THE APOSTLES WERE TO BE REPRESENTATIVE IN OFFICE AND CHARACTER FOR ALL TIME. As his first disciples, and because of the marked variety and force of their individual natures as influenced by the gospel and developed in Christ's service; their names have wrought themselves into the very texture of the gospel, and we have received it with the impress of their varied natures and habits of thought. "He sent them forth to preach, and to have authority to cast out devils" - a fundamental work. Therefore are they called "the foundation of the apostles and prophets," of whom Jesus is the Corner-stone. In serving Christ they laid the world and the ages under inestimable obligation. - M.

And He surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder.
In what sense this name was applicable to the character or teaching of these two brethren is not certain, particularly in the case of St. John, the apostle of gentleness and love. Perhaps, however, if we had heard him preach, we should have discerned in a moment the fitness of the name. If he wrote as he wrote in his epistle, there would be much to vindicate the title, for he wrote such terrible words as, "who is a liar, but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?" "He that committeth sin is of the devil." "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer, and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him." And respecting a certain troubler of the Church he writes, "If I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth." We must remember, too, that this epistle was written in his old age, when years had toned down his decisiveness and vehemence. Respecting the preaching of the other brother we know nothing except this, that when Herod would gratify the Jewish hatred of the gospel, he singled out James as his first victim, which he would hardly have done unless this apostle also had been foremost in aggressive energy of speech.

(M. F. Sadler.)


1. The view which it gives a person of himself. This, you know, is anything but flattering. Christian humility certainly tends to promote gentleness.

2. I mention next the view Christianity gives of God and of eternity. Not only is a person who has felt "the powers of the world to come" apt to feel that the paltry interests of time are not worth contending for, but habitual contemplation of eternal realities, and of Him who "inhabiteth eternity," will so awe and elevate the spirit, that it will have the utmost disrelish for contention. Would it not be strange if two persons should quarrel while gazing together at the cataract of Niagara, listening to its solemn roar, and feeling its solemn tremor? Is it possible to retain anger when you stand at a window, watching the coming up of a storm; or at the foot of cliffs, that lift themselves ruggedly up to the sky; or on the shore of the ocean, stretching away beyond the utmost reach of vision, endlessly rolling in its waves, and ceaselessly lifting up its voice! Christianity, studied, believed, embraced, experienced, causes the soul to dwell habitually in the presence of sublimer objects than these, and under the influence of nobler contemplations.

3. The character of Christ, as it is delineated in the Scriptures, and as the Christian contemplates it, is calculated to promote gentleness. He is exhibited as "the Lamb of God," — not only a spotless victim, fit for the sacrifice, but dumb and unresisting when led to slaughter.


1. Look at the objects of effort which if presents — all that is involved in one's own eternal salvation, and all that tends to the well-being of mankind and the glory of God.

2. Look at the motives to effort which Christianity supplies.

3. Consider the examples which Christianity exhibits. I hope you see that the energy which Christianity inspires does not mar the gentleness which is so beautiful an ornament of character; and that the gentleness which Christianity cultivates does not soften and enervate the soul. The two elements do most harmoniously blend, balancing and tempering, not at all hindering each other. In all our efforts at self-culture, let us seek for the attainment of both these elements in scriptural proportions and in scriptural combination.

(H. A. Nelson, D. D.)

If we thunder in our preaching we must lighten in our lives.


Barnabas and Boanerges, "the sons of consolation and of thunder" make a good mixture. The good Samaritan pours in wine to search the wounds and oil to supple them. Discretion must hold zeal by the heel. These two must be as the lions that supported Solomon's throne. He that hath them may be a Moses for his meekness and a Phinehas for his fervour.


Names were given that they might be stirred up to verify the meaning and signification of them. Wherefore let every Obadiah strive to be a servant of God; each Nathanael to be a gift of God; Onesimus, to be profitable; every Roger, quiet and peaceable; Robert, famous for counsel; and William, a help and defence to many...that they may be incited to imitate the virtues of those worthy persons who formerly have been owners and bearers of them. Let all Abrahams be faithful; Isaacs, quiet; Jacobs, painful (painstaking); Josephs, chaste; every Louis, pious; Edward, confessor of the new faith; William, conqueror over his own corruptions. Let them also carefully avoid those sins for which the bearers of the names stand branded to posterity. Let every Jonah beware of frowardness; Thomas, of distrustfulness; Martha, of worldliness; Mary, of wantonness; etc., etc.

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