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James

Iakobos or Iakob: the Greek form of Jacobus or Jacob

James was the name of five biblical men. The name appears 42 times in 38 verses.

  1. a brother of Jesus Christ (not to be confused with the original twelve disciples of Christ—below) and probably the author of the Epistle of James—Our Lord had four younger brothers (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3). Although Jesus was related to his brothers by law, he was not genetically related to them. While his brothers were the offspring of his parents, Mary and Joseph, Jesus' was conceived in purity by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18,20) and placed into the womb of Mary (for further information, see: Mary, mother of Jesus.

    Of the brothers, the next oldest after Jesus was James (Matt. 13:55-56; Mark 6:3). Other verses which indicate the existence of Mary and Joseph's other children: Matthew 1:25; 12:47; Luke 2:7; John 2:12; Acts 1:14. The Bible reveals that there was some initial skepticism in Christ's family about his ministry (Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21; John 7:5). This later changed when James witnessed the fact of his brother's resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:7). James personally talked to Jesus after his resurrection (1 Cor. 15:7). James became a strong believer and follower of Jesus, and the leader of the Jerusalem church (1 Corinthians 9:5; Galatians 2:9). In Galatians 1:19, Paul referred to James as an apostle, like himself. James also endorsed Paul's ministry (Galatians 2:1-10). James presided over the council held to decide whether the Gentile Christians should follow the rules of the Jews (Acts 12:17; 15:13-29: 21:18-24).

    Note: Jesus' other brothers apparently became missionaries (1 Corinthians 9:5).

    Click to learn moreHave archaeologists discovered evidence of James, the brother of Jesus? (the James ossuary)

  2. One of Christ's original twelve disciples—the son of Zebedee and Salome; an elder brother of John the apostle.

    “He was by trade a fisherman, in partnership with Peter (Matt. 20:20; 27:56). With John and Peter he was present at the transfiguration (Matt. 17:1; Mark 9:2), at the raising of Jairus's daughter (Mark 5:37-43), and in the garden with our Lord (14:33). Because, probably, of their boldness and energy, he and John were called Boanerges, i.e., “sons of thunder.” He was the first martyr among the apostles, having been beheaded by King Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:1-2), A.D. 44. (Compare Matt. 4:21; 20:20-23).” (Matthew G. Easton)

  3. Another of Christ's twelve disciples—the son of Alphaeus or Cleopas. This James is listed in the following verses: Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13.

  4. James “the Less” or “the Little” (Mark 15:40). He was probably called this because he was short in stature, or else because he was younger or less well-known. He was the brother of Joses and the son of a woman named Mary (not Jesus Christ's mother) (Matt. 27:56; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10).

  5. the father of Judas, one of the twelve disciples (not to be confused with Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus Christ—Luke 6:16)— This James is named in two verses: Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13.

Author: Paul S. Taylor.