Who was James in the New Testament?
There are 4 “James” in the New Testament and 2 of them are among the 12.
James, the son of Zebedee, brother of John.
- James the son of Zebedee was one of the 12.
- Jesus called James and his brother John “Boanerges” or “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17).
- James, John and Peter formed Jesus’ innermost circle of associates.
- These three were present when Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51), witnessed the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28 ), and were with Jesus during His agony in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-37; Mark 14:32-34).
- James and John sought to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritan village for refusing to receive Jesus and the disciples (Luke 9:52-54)
- James, John and their mother (Matthew 20:20-21) sought special positions of honor for the time of Christ’s glory (Mark 10:35-40).
- James was the first of the twelve to be martyred (Acts 12:2 ). He was beheaded by Herod Agrippa (ca 42-44 AD).
Mat 4:21; Mat 10:2; Mat 17:1; Mar 1:19; Mar 1:29; Mar 3:17; Mar 5:37; Mar 9:2; Mar 10:35; Mar 10:41; Mar 13:3; Mar 14:33; Mar 16:1; Luk 5:10; Luk 6:14; Luk 6:16; Luk 8:51; Luk 9:28; Luk 9:54; Act 1:13; Act 12:2; Jud 1:1.
James, the son of Alphaeus
- James, the son of Alphaeus, is also one of the twelve disciples (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13).
- He is not distinguished by name in any occasion reported in the Gospels or Acts.
- He may be “James the younger,” whose mother, Mary, was among the women at Jesus’ crucifixion and tomb (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10 ).
- In John 19:25 , this Mary is called the wife of Cleophas, perhaps another name for Alphaeus. Or perhaps Alphaeus had died and his mother remarried.
- He is also called James the Less.
Mat 10:3; Mat 27:56; Mar 1:19; Mar 3:18; Mar 15:40; Mar 16:1; Luk 6:15; Luk 6:16; Luk 24:10; Act 1:13.
James, the father of Judas, the betrayer is mentioned only in Luke 6:16
James the brother of Jesus
- James, the brother of the Lord, author of the New Testament letter and leader in the Jerusalem church.
- During Jesus earthly ministry, the brothers of Jesus (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; 1 Corinthians 9:5 ) were not believers (John 7:3-5; Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21 ).
- Paul tells us that the resurrected Jesus appeared to James, perhaps to commission him to lead the Jerusalem church, as he commissioned Paul and Peter (1Cor 15:7).
- After the resurrection and ascension, the brothers of Jesus are with the twelve and the other believers in Jerusalem (Acts 1:14).
- James the Lord’s brother is counted with the apostles (Galatians 1:19).
- James assumed the leadership of the Jerusalem church.
- In a Jerusalem conference called regarding Paul’s Gentile mission, James presided as spokesman for the Jerusalem church in the council of Acts 15.
- Around 66 AD, James was executed by order of the high priest Ananus, and was stoned (according to Flavius Josephus, first century historian of the Jews) and then his body cast down from the Temple tower (after Hegesippus, early Christian writer, quoted by the third-century Christian historian Eusebius).
53And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, 54and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” – Matthew 13:53-56
20Then he [Jesus] went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” – Mark 3:20-21
2Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand. 3So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. 4For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5For not even his brothers believed in him. – John 7:2-5
18Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas [Peter] and remained with him fifteen days. 19But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. – Galatians 1:18-19
and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. – Galatians 2:9
11But when Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. – Galatians 2:11-12
3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. – 1Corinthians 15:3-8
13And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. – Acts 1:13-14
Act 15:13 After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me.
Dictionaries & Encyclopedias
- Bridgeway Bible Dictionary: James the Brother of Jesus
- Bridgeway Bible Dictionary: James the Apostle
- Easton Bible Dictionary: James
- Fausset Bible Dictionary: James
- Holman Bible Dictionary: James
- Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible: James
- International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: James
- Kitto’s Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature: James
- McClintock and Strong: James
- The Nuttall Encyclopedia: James
- James means the same as Jacob “that suppliants” – Hitchcock’s Bible names
- Eusebius: The Martyrdom of James
- Whyte’s Dictionary of Bible Characters James the Lord’s Brother