Who Were Jesus’ Brothers?
Those of us who have siblings are well aware of the toll they may have on our ability to remain calm under pressure. I recall thinking as a youngster that I would have sinned significantly less if I had not been given siblings. I was probably right. Of course, knowing me, I would’ve sinned regardless, but I had a strong belief in this idea for many years before I realized it. Our first thoughts aren’t often about Jesus’ brothers and sisters; they’re more typically on Jesus himself. As a result, we tend to think of Jesus as an only child throughout his early years, in a stable and a manger, which makes it easy to overlook that Mary and Joseph had numerous children after Jesus arrives.
This would indicate that they may have had a number of children before Joseph died, if not enough to fill an entire homeschool passenger van.
Are there any of them that we get the chance to meet in the Bible?
Did Jesus Have a Twin?
In a nutshell, no. After the birth of Jesus, the Bible makes it plain that Joseph and Mary did not have sexual relations until after the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:25). Despite this, the belief that Jesus has a twin brother continues to pervade churches today. The notion that Jesus had a twin called “Didymus Judas Thomas” is completely absurd, especially in light of the fact that Joseph and Mary did not engage in sexual intercourse until after the birth of Jesus. Jesus, on the other hand, did not grow up in a family without siblings and sisters.
Let’s have a look at some of the names of Jesus’ brothers and sisters that appear in the Bible.
Jesus’ Brother and Sister Names
In the Bible, we don’t have any names that are similar to ours. Women’s names are rarely mentioned in the Bible, unless they played prominent roles in the story, such as the judge Deborah or Mary the mother of Jesus, who were both mentioned. Consider some of the scriptures that refer to Jesus’ brothers and sisters. While Jesus was still speaking to the multitude, his mother and brothers remained outside the door, waiting for an opportunity to speak with him. Matthew 12:46 As a result of the verses below, we know that Jesus had sisters.
- “How did he obtain all of these things?” you might wonder.
- What is now happening to some of these brothers will be discussed in detail later.
- The number of children he has is not specified in the Gospels.
- Joseph was most likely deceased, and she need Jesus to serve as the home’s head of household.
Regardless of one’s objections, Scripture refers to these individuals as Jesus’ siblings, and for the purposes of this article, we will refer to them as half-siblings.
What Happened to Jesus’ Brothers and Sisters?
Although Mary initially supports Jesus’ work, when difficult circumstances arise, she urges him to step back and return home to care for his family, according to the Matthew 12verse. In the New Testament, we don’t learn anything about what happened to Jesus’ family until much later in the book of Matthew. The New Testament story is dominated by two of Jesus’ brothers, James and Jude, and we know that they play a significant role in it. As we have seen, James and Jude must have had some reservations about Jesus at initially since they arrive with Mary in order to stop Jesus from continuing his teachings.
- Following his conversion, James becomes the pastor of a church in Jerusalem, and he later goes on to write the Book of James.
- A stone or a fall from the Temple tower is used to bring him to his death.
- The Book of Jude, as you would have guessed.
- Beyond the fact that Jude converted after Jesus returned to the Father’s presence in heaven, we don’t know much about his life.
- As far as the rest of Jesus’ siblings are concerned, we know that many of them have converted and gone on to perform missionary travels themselves (1 Corinthians 9:5).
3 Lessons from Jesus’ Brothers
In spite of the fact that we don’t get to learn much about Jesus’ siblings and sisters in Scripture, we may take away a number of important truths from them. First and foremost, Jesus’ relationship with his siblings demonstrates that he fully comprehends every element of our existence. He understands what it’s like to grow up in a family with folks who don’t always agree with you. Even though ancient Israel did not have the same individualistic worldview as we have now, there was nonetheless sibling rivalry and competitiveness between brothers and sisters.
- Second, even Jesus’ siblings expressed skepticism.
- Until after Jesus has ascended back into heaven, James and Jude do not accept him as their Lord and Savior.
- We may take consolation from Jesus’ example, knowing that even his own family did not stand by him during his trial.
- This might provide encouragement to those of us who have family members who have not yet made a commitment to Christ in their life.
- Both of them are New Testament authors that compose books for the New Testament.
- That exemplifies real dedication.
- In the end, many of us are stubborn and stubbornness can stand in the way of developing a positive relationship with others.
Perhaps, like Jesus’ half-brothers and half-sisters, they will come to understand the magnificent lovingkindness of our Lord.
When it comes to our siblings, we should ask God for patience and prayer.
Sources She is a multi-published author and a graduate of the professional writing program at Taylor University, where she studied creative writing.
As a writer and editor, she has worked for a number of different publishing firms as well as periodicals, newspapers, and literary agencies, and she has worked with writers such as Jerry B.
Her modern-day Daniel trilogy, published by IlluminateYA, is now available.
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This page is a part of ourPeople of Christianitycatalog, which tells the tales, explains the meaning, and highlights the significance of well-known figures from the Bible and throughout history.
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Did Jesus have any brothers, sisters or siblings?
Throughout history, there has been great debate about the precise nature of their link to Jesus and his apostles. Consequently, the issue remains: Did Jesus have siblings? There have been three main points of view put forward: They have been identified as (1) Jesus’ actual siblings/brothers, that is, half-brothers, sons of Joseph and Mary (and therefore younger than Jesus); (2) His stepbrothers, that is, children of Joseph by a previous marriage (and thus all older than Jesus and not His blood relatives at all); (3) Jesus’ cousins, either on the mother’s side or on the father’s side, depending on who you believe.
Where exactly was Jesus’ birthplace?
Three views about Jesus’ siblings
Some adhere to the first viewpoint, arguing that it is the most natural way to interpret the multiple allusions to these brothers, as well as the most evident intention of Matthew 1:25 and Luke 2:7. Second, those who believe in family ethics claim that younger siblings should not be permitted to mock or otherwise interfere with an older brother in the same way that Jesus’ brothers ridiculed Him (see Mark 3:31; John 7:3-4). Moreover, they argue, Jesus’ decision to entrust His mother’s care to the apostle John (John 19:26-27), rather than to one of His brothers, clearly shows that Mary did not have any other children.
Their relationship as cousins on Mary’s side is predicated on the unconfirmed identification of “Mary, the wife of Cleophus” with Mary’s sister (John 19:25; Mark 15:40), as well as the unsubstantiated relationship between “Clopas” and Alphaeus (John 19:25; Mark 15:40).
Jesus’ brothers, sistersmother
Several of Jesus’ siblings are reported as joining him and his mother to Capernaum following their marriage at Cana (Matthew 19:9). (John 2:12). The next year, Mary and these brothers are mentioned as attempting to have an audience with Jesus (Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21). A few chapters before the conclusion of Jesus’ public career, His brethren are recorded as asking Jesus to demonstrate His Messiahship, which they themselves had questioned (John 7:3-5). Their conversion is obvious from the fact that they are portrayed in Acts as joining with the disciples and others in “prayer and supplication” before to the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1–3).
Paul makes the implication that they were all married (1 Corinthians 9:5).
Also widely held to be the case is that James the brother of Jesus was the spiritual leader of the early church in Jerusalem (see Acts 12:17; 15:13).
What Happened to Jesus’ ‘Brothers’?
Sign up for Christianity Today and you’ll gain instant access to back issues of Christian History! A number of “brothers and sisters” are referenced in the Gospels, but only James and Jude are mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament—James as the leader of the early church in Jerusalem, and Jude in the brief epistle that bears his name. See “Mary” for a potential meaning of “brothers and sisters.” According to the Gospel of John, Jesus’ family was first doubtful of his mission: “Even his brothers did not believe in him,” the Gospel reads.
At the Jerusalem Council, James, the eldest of Jesus’ brothers, made the decision that Gentile Christians did not have to follow traditional Jewish rules.
Some believe he led an austere lifestyle, and it has been stated that he spent so much time in prayer that his knees “were like those of a camel.” According to Jewish historian Josephus, James was stoned to death by Jewish religious authorities.
It is unknown if this James or someone else was the author of the epistle that bears his name.
Following the publication of his letter of caution about impostors who had entered the church, it is possible that Jude himself rose to the position of recognized church leader, and possibly even a traveling missionary who witnessed such difficulties directly.
The other disciples
Following the Gospels, the disciples are only briefly mentioned in the New Testament. We have only legends to go on for more specifics, some of which are questionable. Andrew, Peter’s brother, is said to have preached in Asia Minor, Thrace, and Greece before being crucified on an X-shaped cross, according to a tenth-century story. He was recognized as the founder of the church in Constantinople, and he may have had a connection to the development of written language. Congratulations, you have reached the conclusion of this Article Preview.
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Who Was James, Jesus’ Brother?
Jesus was born into a large family. Jesus’ brothers are named in Matthew 13:55-56: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas, as well as sisters (plural), indicating that He had at least six siblings in all. When Jesus’ brothers are stated, James is usually placed first, which in Jesus’ day most likely implied that he was the oldest of the four brothers. James, also known as Old Camel Knees and James the Just, was the leader of the church in Jerusalem until his brutal murder in AD 62. Photograph courtesy of Getty Images/Anyaberkut
What Does the Bible Say about James?
Jesus’ brothers make fun of Him in John 7:1-4. “Because even his own brothers did not trust in him,” says verse 5, explaining the situation. This is at the conclusion of Jesus’ public career, perhaps around six months before his death on the cross. The miracles of Jesus include healing a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years (John 5:2-9), feeding 5,000 men with a boy’s lunch (John 6:5-14), and walking on water (John 6:15). (John 6:16-21). Although he has witnessed miracles for more than two years, James remains skeptical.
James is expressly mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:7 as one of the people to whom Jesus appeared after His Resurrection. James thinks that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who has come to redeem people from their sins after witnessing his dead brother walking and talking to him. He does not announce himself as Jesus’ brother or as the leader of the church when he subsequently writes the Epistle of James, but rather as “James, the servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,” as he does in the book of Acts (James 1:1).
James is one of the 120 people who are filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, which marks the beginning of the Church (Acts 2:1-4).
Photograph courtesy of Unsplash/Ben White
James Was a Wise Leader
When Paul travels to Jerusalem less than 10 years later, he meets with two church elders: Peter and James, the brother of Jesus, who are both apostles. Galatians 1:18-19 narrates this occurrence in detail, and Paul refers to James as an apostle, one of a limited group of people who had experienced the risen Christ and whose teaching had authority. James is one of the apostles who witnessed the rising Christ and whose teaching had authority. When Paul comes to Jerusalem 14 years later to settle the question of which Jewish rules apply to Gentile Christians, James is still the leader of the church in Jerusalem.
- An acrimonious and intricate conflict threatens to split the young Church in half.
- He gives people the freedom to express themselves completely, including all of their worries and disagreements.
- The majority of orators of the time flatteried their audiences with flowery compliments, weaved in anecdotes and cultural allusions, and finally came around to hinting to whatever it was that they were trying to get over to their audience.
- God is rescuing both Jews and Gentiles, according to Peter, and he affirms that statement.
- James then makes his final decision, which is a compromise.
- There is no longer any discussion.
- The apostle Paul refers to James as a pillar of the church and a man of high renown in Galatians 2:10, when narrating the tale of the Jerusalem Council in that city.
Additionally, he recalls that when James and the other elders gave their approval for his Gentile mission, the only thing they requested was that he keep the poor’s needs in mind. Photograph courtesy of Getty Images/chaiyapruek2520
Jesus’ Brother Was a Radical Advocate
It is a source of great emotion for James, who throughout the Epistle of James frequently calls for justice for the poor. Approximately one-quarter of the book is devoted to advocating for and supporting the less fortunate, denouncing favoritism based on money, and addressing the wealthy about their greed, indifference, exploitation, and arrogant arrogance, among other things. Other than Jesus Himself, there is no other figure in the New Testament who speaks so extensively against social inequity.
- “Now listen up, you affluent people; cry and howl because of the suffering that is about to fall upon you.
- Corrosion will testify against you, and your body will be consumed by it like fire.
- During your time on Earth, you indulged in luxury and self-indulgence.
- Not only does James encourage compassion and care for the poor, but he also elevates and glorifies them.
- “Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Hasn’t God selected those who are poor in this world to be wealthy in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised to those who love Him?” (See also James 2:5).
In the first lines of the Epistle of James, just as he did at the Jerusalem Council, James skips over the long-winded pleasantries and blessings and gets right to the heart of the matter. The fact that you are facing challenges of various types should be considered pure delight, dear brothers and sisters.” (See James 1:2.) When a pastor exhorts his congregation to trust God despite of their circumstances, to be faithful and pure, and to humbly submit to God, the heart of the pastor may be heard beating in his words.
In this letter to individuals who are “scattered throughout the nations,” James provides solace to those who are suffering by pointing them toward the everlasting perspective of the Bible.
For James, unity in the church is a top priority, as evidenced by his repeated exhortations to Christians to refrain from judging one another (James 2:12-13, 4:11-12), control their tongues and tempers (James 1:19-20, 3:2-12), and put aside the envy and selfish ambition that cause disorder, conflict, and quarrels (James 3:12-12).
- At the time of James’s last historical appearance in the Bible, he is celebrating over the Gentiles who have become members of God’s family and counseling Paul on how to reconcile divisions within the Church.
- James saw that Paul was not advocating that Jews should abandon their Jewish identity when they place their faith in Jesus.
- This uncertainty and divide can be resolved by James suggesting that Paul demonstrate that he still considers himself Jewish and adheres to the Law of Moses by engaging in a purification ceremony and paying for four other men to do the same, as suggested by James (Acts 21:17-26).
- His example of leadership exemplifies James 3:17-18 in action.
A harvest of righteousness will be reaped by peacemakers who sow the seeds of peace.” Photograph courtesy of Getty Images/kovop58
How Did Jesus’ Brother James Die?
The death of James is not mentioned in the Scriptures. James, the leader of the early church in Jerusalem, is likely still alive and serving as the book of Acts’ last chapter, which concludes with Paul under house arrest in Rome. The historian Josephus dates James’ death during a period of transition between two Roman rulers, indicating that he died around the year 62 AD, which is a likely date. By this point, James has earned himself a number of nicknames, including James the Just, Oblias (a Greek phrase that translates as “bulwark of the people”), and Old Camel Knees (a moniker that refers to his age).
Matt Erickson writes that Hegessipus, a 2ndcentury Christian, wrote that James was often found alone in the temple on his knees begging God to forgive the Jews and that he spent so much time on his knees in prayer that his knees “became hard like those of a camel.” Hegessipus also wrote that James spent so much time on his knees in prayer that his knees “became hard like those of a camel.” His behavior provided proof that he believed what he stated in James 5:16 regarding prayer.
- His trust would be put to the test in due course.
- It is this that concerns the Jewish authorities, who implore James to address the throng.
- The people are befuddled and are following a dead guy by the name of Jesus.
- “He is seated at the right side of God in the heavenly realms, and he will return on the clouds of heaven.” Many of the people are convinced right then and then that Jesus is the Resurrected Lord, and they begin to praise Him right there and then.
- “Oh my goodness!” they exclaim to the crowd.
- However, he is not killed, and as a result, the leaders begin stoning him.
- He prostrates himself before God, pleading with him to forgive the Jews.
- What exactly are you doing?
- Photograph courtesy of Unsplash/Annie Spratt.
Was James One of the 12 Disciples?
The vast majority of Biblical scholars agree that James the brother of Jesus should not be confused with James, the brother of John and the son of Zebedee, who is the son of Zebedee. According to Acts 12:2, James was assassinated just prior to the Jerusalem Council, which was chaired by James the brother of Jesus. It has been suggested that James the brother of Jesus and James the son of Alphaeus, a follower of Jesus’, may be the same person. These academics propose that James is a relative or stepbrother of Jesus in order to explain the discrepancy in their fathers’ surnames.
Although it is plausible, it is improbable given the fact that Jesus’ brothers did not think He was the Messiah. Their ridicule of Jesus in John 7:1-4 was the result of their disbelief, and it came after a series of events in which the 12 disciples were involved.
The Legacy of James
The life of James demonstrates the significance of the Resurrection. A skeptical skeptic is transformed into a loyal disciple after witnessing the resurrection of the crucified Jesus on the cross. His leadership of the Church in Jerusalem is an example of just, uniting, and steady servant leadership, and he should be commended for it. The purpose of the Church is shaped by the teachings of the Book of James, which include unity, fidelity in prayer and testimony, purity, endurance in the face of adversity, and compassionate care for one another and the poor.
- Photograph courtesy of Getty Images /rudall30 Jeannie Myers is a freelance writer who lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she enjoys the beauty of nature.
- Reading, camping, singing, and playing board games with her children are some of Jeannie’s favorite pastimes.
- Jeannie Myers is a freelance writer who lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she enjoys the beauty of nature.
- Reading, camping, singing, and playing board games with her children are some of Jeannie’s favorite pastimes.
Did Jesus have brothers and sisters (siblings)?
QuestionAnswer More than a few verses in the Bible make reference to Jesus’ brothers. A visit by Jesus’ mother and brothers is recorded in three different Bible passages: Matthew 12:46, Luke 8:19, and Mark 3:31. The Bible teaches us that Jesus had four brothers: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas, according to the book of Matthew (Matthew 13:55). Although the Bible says that Jesus had sisters, they are neither named or counted in the book of Matthew (Matthew 13:56). In John 7:1-10, Jesus’ brothers accompany him to the feast, while he remains at home.
- James, according to Galatians 1:19, was Jesus’ younger brother.
- Some Roman Catholics believe that these “brothers” were actually Jesus’ cousins, rather than his siblings.
- While the word can apply to other relatives as well, its conventional and literal meaning is a physical brother in the traditional sense.
- If they were Jesus’ cousins, why were they so frequently represented as being with Mary, Jesus’ mother, if they were Jesus’ cousins?
- It is also possible, according to a second Roman Catholic theory, that Jesus’ brothers and sisters were the offspring of Joseph from a prior relationship.
- There is a difficulty with this because the Bible makes no mention of Joseph being previously married or having children before he married Mary.
- No scriptural basis exists to assume that these siblings are anything other than the biological children of Joseph and Mary, as is commonly believed.
- “And he named Him Jesus,” the Bible says (Matthew 1:25).
In God’s Word, there is a clear and unequivocal teaching on the subject of marriage. Questions regarding Jesus Christ (return to top of page) Is it possible that Jesus had brothers and sisters (siblings)?
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Did Jesus Really Have Half-Siblings?
Jesus had at least four brothers, according to Matthew 13:55: James, Joseph (sometimes referred to as Joses), Simon, and Judas. James was the oldest of the brothers (also referred to as Jude). Matthew 13:56 indicates that he had at least two sisters, which is consistent with the plural form of the word “sister.” Despite the fact that the Greek term for “brothers” and “sisters” does not necessitate that someone be a blood related, it is most likely that these six persons are the offspring of Joseph and Mary and half-siblings of Jesus, according to tradition.
Why Is This Question So Controversial Among Christians?
Mary’s eternal virginity is at the heart of this debate, which has raged for more than two centuries. It is possible that Mary is eternally a virgin, in which case Jesus would have no biological relations. This offers the potential of Jesus having half-brothers and sisters if Mary remained a virgin until the birth of Jesus, but then began having sexual intercourse with her husband Joseph afterward. Because of Jesus’ virgin birth, Joseph was not his biological father, therefore they would act on his behalf as step-siblings.
- In the first place, it is important to note that Jesus’ siblings were offspring of Mary and Joseph after Jesus was born (referred to as the Helvidian view).
- Third, they were first cousins of Jesus, which was a great honor (the traditional Roman Catholic view).
- It is true that the Greek terms for “brothers” and “sisters” can be difficult to distinguish from one another, but there existed a word for “cousin” in the Bible.
- It is interesting to note that they are never referred to as Jesus’ cousins throughout the New Testament or the first two centuries of Christian history, which is surprising.
Why Are There Objections to Jesus Having Half-Brothers?
The dogma of Mary’s permanent virginity is the primary source of opposition to Jesus having half-siblings in the first place. From the early church through the Reformation, this idea was embraced by a large number of people. It is Matthew 1:25 that is important since it says, “but (Joseph) did not have sexual contact with her until she gave birth to a son.” “And he gave him the name Jesus” (CSB). In this case, the term “until” is at the core of the debate. This term signifies the conclusion of a span of time in a chronological sense.
Matthew 2:15 states that they remained in Egypt “until Herod’s death” (CSB), which is the identical term that is used in Matthew 1:25 and Matthew 2:13 as well.
The New Testament states that Mary remained a virgin until the birth of Jesus, but it makes no mention of whether or not she continued to be a virgin beyond this time.
Early Christian writings such as the Gospel of Peter (which was not actually written by Peter), the Protoevangelium of James (which was not actually written by any James in the New Testament), and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas (which was not actually written by the Apostle Thomas), all of which date from the second century, appear to support this point of view.
There isn’t enough information to make a definitive determination on whether or not these youngsters are Mary’s biological offspring.
In the passage cited above, Matthew 1:25, it appears to indicate that Mary only remained a virgin until the birth of Jesus.
The way this line is written establishes a stronger connection between Mary and Jesus’ half-brothers than it does with Joseph.
In fact, Joseph (Mary’s husband) isn’t even mentioned by name in the text. As a result, these are most likely Mary’s offspring, as well as Jesus’ half-brothers and half-sisters.
What Do We Know about the Half-Siblings?
James was the most well-known of Jesus’ half-brothers and sisters. James the son of Zebedee, the brother of John, is not to be confused with the person named James here (seeMatthew 4:21). According to Acts 12:2, James the son of Zebedee was killed at a young age in the history of Christianity. A number of times in the New Testament, Jesus’ half-brother James is mentioned by name. Besides the passage from Matthew 13:55, we know that Mary and Jesus’ brothers (most likely included James) went to Jesus when he was ministering to the people (Matthew 12:46;Mark 3:31;Luke 8:19-20).
- Because the terms “brothers” and “disciples” are distinct, it is most likely that these are the sons of Mary, half-brothers of Jesus, and most likely include James as well.
- Clearly, the term “brothers” does not apply to persons who are members of Jesus’ society but are connected biologically, as the passage above indicates.
- According to the evidence, James turned to Christianity sometime after the events of John 7 and before the events of Acts 12.
- In Galatians 1:19, the apostle Paul refers to James as Jesus’ brother.
- Most evangelical academics think that the Letter of James was written by Jesus’ half-brother, James (seeJames 1:1).
- There is less information available concerning Jesus’ other half-siblings.
- They are mentioned in 1Corinthians 9:5 in the context of traveling gospel ministers: “Don’t we have the right to be accompanied by a believing woman, just as the other apostles, the Lord’s brothers, and Cephas did?” (CSB).
James’ brother, Jude, asserts himself to be the author of the book, who is most likely the half-brother of Jesus.
While several hypotheses for the identification of Jude have been advanced, none of them appear to be more plausible than the possibility that he is Jesus’ half-brother.
Even though they claimed to be farmers in the vicinity of Rome, the veracity of their narrative has been put into question.
The controversy over whether or not Jesus had half-siblings is inextricably linked to the dogma of Mary’s eternal virginity, which is discussed below.
Joseph and Mary had at least six children following the birth of Jesus, according to the most logical interpretation of the biblical narrative, including at least four males and at least two girls.
Photograph courtesy of Getty Images/MichaelTruelove.
Croteau (Ph.D., Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Professor of New Testament at Columbia International University, as well as Associate Dean and Director of the Ph.D.
The following books are among his many publications: Urban Legends of the Old Testament (co-authored with Gary Yates, B H, 2019), Urban Legends of the New Testament (B H, 2015),Tithing After the Cross (Energion, 2013), and You Mean I Don’t Have to Tithe (Energion, 2013). (Pickwick, 2010).
The Apostles, Part 12: James, Brother of Jesus
As we have progressed through this study, we have spent the majority of our time looking at the life and teachings of an individual who never encountered Jesus during His earthly ministry: the apostle Paul. Toward the end of the last part, we got to the conclusion of his life, which was most likely his execution in Nero’s Rome. However, the tale of the apostles does not come to a close there. The Acts of the Apostles, written by Paul’s traveling companion Luke, has served as our primary source throughout this course.
- In spite of this, Luke refers to them as a “renewing group of 12” after Matthias takes the place of Judas (verse 26).
- Several women (including Jesus’ mother, Mary), as well as His brothers, were also present in the early days of the Church (Acts 1:14).
- They are also well-known for the literature that they have produced.
- In this section, we will look at James’ biography and literary output.
The apostle James, the son of Zebedee and one of the original 12 apostles, was assassinated by King Herod Agrippa in the early days of the Church, about 44 C.E., as some readers may recall (see Acts 12:1–2). This means that the James mentioned in verse 17 of the same chapter must be a different James from the one mentioned in the previous verse, when Luke recalls that Peter sent word of his release from jail to someone called James. Despite the fact that up to seven other persons with the same name have been identified in the New Testament, James the brother of Jesus (Galatians 1:19) is the most plausible candidate in this particular instance.
- It’s possible to speculate that this same James appears later in Acts as the leader of the church in Jerusalem, which would lead us to believe that he is the author of the New Testament book of the same name.
- The Jewish religious authorities, according to the first-century Jewish writer Josephus, executed “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James” by stoning him to death (Antiquities of the Jews20.200).
- Was this James, on the other hand, also an apostle?
- When writing about one of his travels to Jerusalem, Paul, who also became an apostle but was not one of the Twelve, appears to allude to James’s apostolic role, which is consistent with James’s own.
Scholars, on the other hand, have noted that this is not a categorical assertion. “Apart from the apostles, I didn’t see anybody else but James, the Lord’s brother,” according to an alternative version.
James the Unbeliever
Is there anything else we can learn about James and his early life from his accounts in the Gospels? According to the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, he was one of numerous children born to Mary and Joseph following the birth of Jesus. “Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joses, and the brother of Judas and Simon?” “Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses, and the brother of Judas and Simon?” “And aren’t his sisters here with us?” I inquire.
- There was a period when James and the rest of the family were vocal in their opposition to Jesus’ work and message.
- According to John, “not even his brothers believed in him at the time” (John 7:5).
- However, despite the fact that he was Jesus’ brother, he did not fill the gap created by Judas’ death since the remaining 11 were to pick “one of the men who followed the Lord Jesus during all of the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among” the people (Acts 1:21).
- He had another encounter with James while he was bringing hunger aid to Jerusalem from the churches outside of Judea at the time (Acts 21:18).
- He said that after James’ death, the Church picked another of Jesus’ blood relations, His cousin Simon or Simeon, to be its head, meaning that James had been in charge up until that time.
- 153–217 C.E.
- According to Jerome, who was writing in the fifth century, James “controlled the church of Jerusalem for thirty years,” which corresponds to the seventh year of Nero’s reign (Lives of Illustrious Men, chapter 2).
James’s Tour de Force
The short book of James is a moral, theological, and literary masterpiece that deserves to be read and studied. The focus on living according to “the complete code,” “the law of liberty,” and “the royal law” (James 1:25, 2:8), while some have argued that it is at conflict with the teachings of Paul, placed it squarely within the same Judaic heritage. An in-depth investigation of its fundamental notions exposes the complimentary nature of each man’s way of seeing things. James begins by emphasizing his allegiance to “God and.
- James, who was raised in a Jewish family, was well-versed in the history of ancient Israel, particularly its roots with the 12 sons of Jacob.
- As noted in Acts 2:9–11, 1 Peter 1:1, and John 7:35, James was writing to Church members who were descended from these tribes who lived in what was then known as the Diaspora—what are now known as the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern areas.
- As a result, he places difficult circumstances in the framework of his spiritual development and growth.
- Double-mindedness accomplishes nothing; instead, peaceful faith in God’s guidance and assistance is the key (verses 5–8, emphasis added).
- According to verses 9–11, the affluent would finally fade away like the grass of the field.
- James warns against falling into the trap of blaming God for the hardships we bring on ourselves by surrendering to sin (verses 13–15), and he gives specific examples of how to avoid doing so.
- Fortunately, He differs from flawed and variable humans in that He is “the Father of lights,” with whom there is no variation or shadow caused by change.
He is the one who has decreed that His people be given truth in this life, before others, in order for them to become “a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (verses 17–18), and that they will become “a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” James places a strong focus on the practice of good living from the beginning of the epistle.
- He illustrates the contrast between natural human ways of behaving—we are slow to hear, quick to talk and swiftly angry—and God’s methods.
- It is the Word of God that instructs us in right ways.
- Otherwise it is like looking at our image in the mirror, seeing what is wrong, and doing nothing to remedy what we find (verses 23–24).
- He says, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
The theme of acting on belief will recur throughout the letter. “ If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”
Generally speaking, the law of God encompasses all elements of human life, and James provides various illustrations of how believing should result in transformed, law-abiding behavior. As a starting point, he says in James 2:1–9 that praising one person above another based on one’s money or social standing has no place in the heavenly value system. Indeed, he claims, it is too frequently the rich that abuse and disadvantage the less fortunate and that this should be avoided. They may even make derogatory remarks about Jesus’ name.
- Two people, one well-dressed and rich, and the other in shabby clothing and poverty.
- It would be a disgrace and a humiliation to the less fortunate.
- And violating the law is considered sinful.
- For example, according to James, by refraining to commit adultery but, on the other hand, committing murder, we are guilty of breaching the entire commandment (James 2:10–11), he claims.
- We must adhere to all of it, understanding that God will judge us according to its principles, which, if followed in spirit, would liberate us from the punishment of sin: everlasting death; and we must do so with the understanding that God will judge us according to its principles (verse 12).
- He provides a second illustration of the demand for faith to be manifested in action by bringing attention to the plight of those members of the believing community who are suffering from a lack of resources.
- Faith must be demonstrated via deeds.
James demonstrates via the example of Abraham that the patriarch’s faith was followed by deeds, and as a result, he came to be recognized as “the friend of God” (verse 23).
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith but does not demonstrate it by his actions?
The absence of deeds in the form of faith renders it ineffective.” James shifts to a longer discussion of the necessity to bridle or control one’s tongue in chapter three, which is a subject he has touched on previously.
His first point is that teaching is a dangerous profession because people who practice it are held accountable for their words, and it is simple to say things incorrectly (James 3:1–2).
Furthermore, everything we say will be used to judge us all in some way.
We control a ship with a rudder and lead a horse by putting a bit in its mouth, respectively.
However, because the tongue is so little in proportion to the rest of the body, it is extremely difficult to control.
The tongue has been compared as a fire that has the potential to set the entire world ablaze.
People have conquered or controlled all other species, but the tongue is particularly difficult to manage; like a snake, “it is a restless evil, full of deadly venom” (Aristotle) (verse 8).
This is totally incorrect.
” Despite its tiny size, the tongue is capable of incredible feats of dexterity.
How do people manage to keep their tongues under control?
James demonstrates that it is only through a personal relationship with God that we may gain knowledge and fight the nearly overpowering desire to abuse our words.
This helps to keep “earthly, unspiritualdemonic” conduct at bay (verse 15).
James’s audience, on the other hand, is riven with disagreements and turmoil.
His response is that they originate inside the human heart, which is dissatisfied by not obtaining what it wants—even if it desires something that it should not have.
This strategy has no chance of giving about pleasure in the long run.
If they follow the ways of the world to obtain their goals, they can only be considered enemies of God, the spiritual equal of adulterers in their relationship with Him (verse 4).
One of the issues they have is that they are always disparaging and criticising one another.
Following that, James provides a caution about chasing materialistic desires as though nothing could possibly go wrong with them.
The very essence of life is fleeting.
Knowing the appropriate method to do something but failing to put it into action is sin, according to him.
In a similar vein, affluent individuals are admonished to set their priorities correctly.
Otherwise, no advantage will accrue from any material possessions.
When living in such a world, the followers of James’ elder brother are expected to exercise patience until His return.
No time is wasted on little whining and moaning about one another, something humans are so prone to doing in their everyday lives.
If they want to see an example of persistence amid tough circumstances, James advises them to go no farther than Job, who knows that God is loving and merciful (verses 9–11).
Their commitment should be straightforward and true, as demonstrated by open and honest communication: “Let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you do not come under censure” (verse 12).
The epistle of James concludes with the same focus on practical displays of faith: If there are any among the believers who are suffering, they should pray to God about it, according to James. There are people who are content and they should give thanks to God for their happiness. Those who are sick should contact the Church’s leaders and seek for prayer and anointing so that God may cure them and restore them to health. When someone’s disease is caused by sin, they will be forgiven; prayer and the confession of sin are required for healing to take place.
James uses the example of Elijah (1 Kings 17; 18), who prayed that it would not rain in order to illustrate his point.
After a period of time had passed, he hoped that the rains would arrive, and indeed they did.
It is a discipline that brings about significant rewards.
As a result, James’s care for the community of believers in which he had been a part and which he had come to lead following Jesus’ death and resurrection is confirmed.