James and John, the Sons of Thunder

Last week, we met James and John with their father, Zebedee. 

James, the son of Zebedee

Jesus has called James, John and Simon {Peter} who was with them as fishers of men.  However, he has a special command for these men also.

“James and John were brothers. They were the sons of Zebedee. He named them Boanerges, which means, The Sons of Thunder.”  {Mark 3:17}

The name John means “God is gracious” while the name James means “he who supplants” and is a version of the name Jacob.

But, we are told Jesus renamed them Boanerges, which means sons of thunder or sons of tumult.

John, the son of Zebedee

But why would he call them sons of Thunder?

“The sons of thunder; perhaps they were remarkable for a loud commanding voice, they were thundering preachers; or, rather, it denotes the zeal and fervency of their spirits, which would make them active for God above their brethren.”   {Matthew Henry Commentary}

But there is also a deeper understanding to this visible one.

“These two were to be special eminent ministers of the gospel, which is called a voice shaking the earth” as found in Hebrews 12:26.   {Matthew Henry Commentary}

So what did the men do when Jesus approached. “Then they brought the boats to land, left everything and followed him.”  {Luke 5:11}


The men left their boat and father and everything else and followed Jesus without a backwards look.

But what about their father?

“Jesus called them and they left their father Zebedee. He was in the boat with men who were working for him.”  {Mark 1:20}

They left their father, but they did not leave Zebedee alone. He is left with the men working for him.  This indicates this is a family who may have had some wealth.


“These are the names of the twelve followers. There were Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John who were the sons of Zebedee.”  {Matthew 10:2}

The men follow Jesus, leaving everything behind and not looking back, and become followers of Jesus.  Today, we refer to this inner group of followers as Jesus disciples.

Would you be willing to go with Jesus without looking backwards?

Images from FreeBibleImages.org

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