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Christian Pilgrim

 

140. James



There are several James’s mentioned in Scripture, and this can be confusing.

Of those positively identified:

James the brother of John:

He was one of the twelve apostles, the brother of John and son of Zebedee:

Matthew 4:21 – “And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.”

Matthew 10:2 – “Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;

Mark 1:19 – “And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.”

Mark 3:17 – “And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:

Luke 5:10 – “And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.

Luke 6:14 – “Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,”

Acts 1:13a – “And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew,....”


He was one of the three on the mount of transfiguration:

Matthew 17:1 – “And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,”

Mark 9:2 – “And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.”

Luke 9:28 – “And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.”


He and his brother John asked Christ if they could sit on the right and left hand in His glory:

Mark 10:35 – “And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.

Mark 10:41 – “And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John.


He was killed by Herod, and was the first apostle to be martyred:

Acts 12:2 – “And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.”


James the son of Alphaeus:

He was one of the twelve apostles, brother to Judas (not Iscariot, otherwise known as Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddeus) son of Alphaeus:

Matthew 10:3 – “Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;

Mark 3:18 – “And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite,”

Luke 6:15,16 – “Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.”

Acts 1:13b – “....and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.”


James the Lord’s (half) brother:

Matthew 13:55 – “Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?

Mark 6:3 – “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.”


He is designated an apostle in Scripture, but was not one of the twelve:

Galatians 1:19 – “But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.


James the Less:

This James is only mentioned as "James the less" once in Scripture in Mark 15:40. His mother was Mary and he had a brother called Joses.

This could be the same as James the son of Alphaeus. The title "James the less" could mean the lesser known of the two apostles with the same name. In this case, "Mary the mother of James and Joses" would be Alphaeus's wife. (And Joses could possibly be the apostle Judas, not Iscariot).

As the Lord's mother was called Mary, and He had half-brothers named James and Joses, this could also possibly be James, the Lord's brother. However, it is unusual that in all the passages, Mary is not mentioned as Christ's mother, but only as the mother of James and Joses. Having said that, maybe this is to draw attention away from worshipping her.

James the less's mother was one of the Mary’s at the cross:

Matthew 27:56 – “Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.”

Mark 15:40 – “There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome;

Mark 16:1 – “And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.”

Luke 24:10 – “It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.”


References to James which cannot be positively identified as to which James it is:

Probably James the brother of John (but could be James the son of Alphaeus):

Mark 1:29 – “And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.”

Mark 5:37 – “And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.”

Mark 13:3 – “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,”

Mark 14:33 – “And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;

Luke 8:51 – “And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden.”

Luke 9:54 – “And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?

1 Corinthians 15:7 – “After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.”


Probably James the son of Alphaeus (but could be James the Less and/or the (half) brother of Christ). Cannot possibly be James the brother of John because he had been killed by this time:

A James came to prominence amongst the apostles soon after the death of James the brother of John. This would probably be James the son of Alphaeus, the other apostle of the same name. He would be the leader of the council of Jerusalem in Acts 15:

Acts 12:17 – “But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.

Acts 15:13 – “And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:

Acts 21:18 – “And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.

Galatians 2:9 – “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”


Probably James the less and/or the (half) brother of Christ:

Note neither James or Jude describes themselves as an apostle:

James 1:1 – “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.”

Jude 1 – “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:


Could be any of them:


Galatians 2:12 – “For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.”