Changing Names: Mark 3:13-19

Focus Passage: Mark 3:13-19 (NIrV)

13 Jesus went up on a mountainside. He called for certain people to come to him, and they came. 14 He appointed 12 of them so that they would be with him. He would also send them out to preach. 15 And he gave them authority to drive out demons.

16 So Jesus appointed the 12 disciples.

Simon was one of them. Jesus gave him the name Peter.

17 There were James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John. Jesus gave them the name Boanerges. Boanerges means Sons of Thunder.

18 There were also Andrew,

Philip,

Bartholomew,

Matthew,

Thomas,

and James, son of Alphaeus.

And there were Thaddaeus

and Simon the Zealot.

19 Judas Iscariot was one of them too. He was the one who was later going to hand Jesus over to his enemies.

Read Mark 3:13-19 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Near the beginning of His ministry, three of the four gospels describe the point when Jesus chose the core group of twelve disciples. However, Mark’s gospel includes a detail that the other two gospels don’t, and this detail fascinates me.

Within the twelve disciples, there was a smaller group of three disciples, and this small group, from the point when Jesus called the disciples together, was set apart from the rest. Mark draws our attention onto this distinctive detail at the beginning of his list of Jesus’ chosen twelve. He tells us, “So Jesus appointed the 12 disciples. Simon was one of them. Jesus gave him the name Peter. There were James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John. Jesus gave them the name Boanerges. Boanerges means Sons of Thunder.” (v. 16-17)

From the point when Jesus chose the disciples, He gives three of them new names. Simon (not the Zealot) was given the name Peter. Then the brothers James and John were given the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder.

Perhaps the names Jesus gave related to the place each of these disciples were in when He called them. Maybe when Jesus first met Simon, the name Peter fit him better, and it is possible that Jesus met James and John while they were arguing/debating with each other.

Or maybe, Jesus didn’t rename these three disciples because of who they were when He met them. What if Jesus gave these disciples new names because of what He saw these three men becoming? What if Jesus looked at Simon-Peter, and before Simon even knew what God had in mind for him, Jesus could see his place in God’s master plan? What if James and John would ultimately rock the course of history with their gospel, their preaching, and their life’s witness?

While the reason for Jesus giving these three disciples new names is not shared directly, we do know that He did it for a reason. Just because we don’t understand or have an answer for this question doesn’t mean that He acted illogically. Jesus had a reason for renaming these three disciples and it may be a question we have to wait for heaven to get answered.

But changing names doesn’t stop with these three disciples. When Jesus returns and we enter into our new lives with Him, He promises each of us a new name. The name Jesus will give to us will be a part of us, rich with significance, and it will identify who we are in Christ throughout eternity.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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