Mark 3:16–17, Surnamed Peter … sons of thunder. Yeshua chose twelve apostles, but the first three of the twelve that he chose were unique. This trio—Peter, James and John—formed the innermost circle of Yeshua’s associates, and ten times the Scriptures record their names together, as a group. Beyond that, Yeshua spoke prophetically over each one which, we can now see in retrospect, pertained to the calling he was giving them to canonize what would later become known as the New Testament. Let’s now examine the scriptural evidence for this assertion.
To Simon, Yeshua gave the nickname Peter, which means “a stone” (Gr. petros meaning “stone” as opposed to petra meaning “rock, cliff, ledge, large stone.” See Matthew 16:18 where juxtaposes these two words — the former he attributes to Peter, the latter to himself.
To James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, he gave the nickname Sons of Thunder (Aram. Boanerges). Did you ever wonder why he dubbed only these three disciples with sobriquets and not the others? Was Yeshua just having fun and playing games, or was he declaring over them, in these nicknames, what their prophetic mission was to be years later? “These are the original apostles who were given distinctive titles by [the Messiah] in order to convey some special assignments that they were expected to complete. Peter was to be associated with [Messiah] (the Rock himself) in the creation of the Christian ekklesia [q.v.Matt 16:18]. This was accomplished in its initiation phases with Peter on the Day of Pentecost some 50 days after the resurrection of [Messiah] (Acts 2). Peter was also given the ‘keys’ of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 16:19). These ‘keys’ were to allow him the power to open ‘the doors of the kingdom’ to those who would hear the gospel. It even entailed an authority to bind or to loose people regarding their entrance into that kingdom. (This power was later extended to all the apostles, John 20:23). And it appears certain that one of the main methods by which Peter would be able to exercise the power of the ‘keys’ was to be in charge of the canonization of the New Testament. The information in the canon would ‘open the doors’ to all people who would read and heed the written messages therein” (Restoring the Original Bible, by Ernest Martin, p. 311).
The other two apostles who received special titles were James and John, who Yeshua called the Sons of Thunder. Martin points out that the meaning of this title has been a mystery to most scholars, and the common understanding of it is that these two brothers were headstrong, impetuous, intolerant and authoritarian. And this may be true, but by the time the aged John writes his letters, his demeanor had changed to one of love and conciliation among the brethren. But in their youth they appear to be stern and uncompromising toward evil (Luke 9:54), and they were ambitious for position (Matt. 20:20–24). “They were not mild tempered. They were to be men of ‘Thunder.’ In Hebrew, thunder (kol) meant “the voice of God” (Exod 9:23; Ps 29:3; Jer 10:13; etc.). The title could signify that they were to speak like God himself—as personal spokesmen for God” (Martin, pp. 311–312).
“This title gave them special rank of authority and, along with Peter, they were the only apostles to witness the Transfiguration and to hear the voice of God the Father himself (and in vision to see Moses and Elijah) (Matt 17:1–9). This experience rendered the jurisdiction of those three men as superior to the other apostles and it singled them out for a special purpose. Peter was to be in charge of congregational affairs (Matt 16:17–19), but James and John were to have the distinction of being ‘Sons of Thunder’—to thunder forth his words to the people as did Moses” (Ibid., p. 312).