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James

Iakobos or Iakob: the Greek form of Jacobus or Jacob

James was the name of 5 biblical men. The name appears 42 times in 38 verses.

  1. James, a brother of Jesus Christ (not to be confused with any of 12 disciples of Christ, 2 of which were also “named” James—below)

    He was 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 genetic 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 the virgin Mary (for further information, see: Mary, mother of Jesus).

    Of the brothers, the next oldest after Jesus was James (Matthew 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 Corinthians 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).

    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. James the “Greater,” a fisherman, a son of Zebedee, brother of John, a disciple of Christ and the first disciple martyred

    He was one of Christ’s original 12 disciples. His parents were Zebedee and Salome. His younger brother was John the apostle.

    “He was by trade a fisherman, in partnership with Peter (Matthew 20:20; 27:56). With John and Peter he was present at the transfiguration (Matthew 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 Matthew 4:21; 20:20-23).” (Matthew G. Easton)

  3. James, son of Alphaeus or Cleopas, and one of Christ's 12 disciples

    This James is listed in the following verses: Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13.

  4. James “the Less” or “the Little” (Mark 15:40), brother of Joses and son of Mary

    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) (Matthew 27:56; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10).

  5. James, the brother of Judas Thaddaeus (one of the 12 disciples, also known as Jude—and 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.