(jaymess) English form of Jacob, and the name of three men of the
New Testament. See Jacob.
1. James, the son of Zebedee
and brother of John (Matthew 4:21; Matthew 10:2; Mark 1:19; Mark
3:17; Luke 5:10). As one of the twelve disciples (Acts 1:13), he,
with Peter and John, 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 summoned by Christ for support during His
agony in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-37; Mark 14:32-34).
Perhaps because of James' and John's fiery fanaticism, evidenced as
they sought to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritan village
refusing to receive Jesus and the disciples (Luke 9:52-54), Jesus
called the brothers “Boanerges” or “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17).
James' zeal was revealed in a more selfish manner as he and John
(their mother, on their behalf, in Matthew 20:20-21) sought special
positions of honor for the time of Christ's glory (Mark 10:35-40).
They were promised, however, only a share in His suffering.
Indeed, James was the first of the twelve to be martyred (Acts
12:2). His execution (about A.D. 44), by order of King Herod Agrippa
I of Judea, was part of a larger persecution in which Peter was
arrested (Acts 12:1-3).
2. James, the son of Alphaeus,
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 to be identified with Alphaeus. See Cleophas;
3. James, the brother of Jesus. Bible students debate the precise
meaning of “the Lord's brother” (Galatians 1:19). Possibilities are
the literal brother or stepbrother, a cousin, or intimate friend and
associate. The literal meaning is to be preferred.
During the Lord's ministry, the brothers of Jesus (Matthew 13:55;
Mark 6:3; 1 Corinthians 9:5) were not believers (John 7:3-5; compare
Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21). Paul specifically
mentioned a resurrection appearance by Jesus to James (1 Corinthians
15:7). After the resurrection and ascension, the brothers are said
to have been with the twelve and the other believers in Jerusalem
Paul, seeking out Peter in Jerusalem after his conversion, reported
“other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother”
(Galatians 1:19). In time, James assumed the leadership of the
Jerusalem church, originally held by Peter. Evidently, such was
achieved not through a power struggle but by James' constancy with
the church while Peter and other apostles traveled.
In a Jerusalem conference called regarding Paul's Gentile mission,
James presided as spokesman for the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:1).
See Apostolic Council.
James perceived his calling as to the “circumcised,” that is, the
Jews (Galatians 2:9), and is portrayed as loyal to Jewish tradition.
He was, however, unwilling to make the law normative for all
responding to God's new action in Christ.
The death of James reportedly was at the order of the high priest
Ananus, and was either by stoning (according to Flavius Josephus,
first century historian of the Jews) or by being cast down from the
Temple tower (after Hegesippus, early Christian writer, quoted by
the third-century Christian historian Eusebius). These accounts of
James's death (about A.D. 66), are not confirmed in the New
James E. Glaze