Who Was James In The Bible

We are continuing our series on the men of the Bible that Paul mentions in his letter to the Corinthians. James is next in this series, and this post will tell us more about James. Who was James? What did he do that made the Bible remember him? And what does James have to say to you today?

James, son of Zebedee, is one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus in the Bible. James and his brother John were the sons of Zebedee, who was a fisherman in the city of Bethsaida. James was an unlikely candidate for apostle, because he did not have any experience being a fisherman and living a simple live. However, this changed when Jesus called him to become one of his apostles.

James was a son of Zebedee, and one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. He was the brother of John, also one of the twelve. James also had a second name, in his case that second name was Boanerges — which translated to “man of thunder” (Mark 3:17).

James, son of Zebedee and Salome, is one of the 12 Apostles in the Bible. James is also considered to have been one of early Christian leaders, along with his brother John.

Who Was James In The Bible

In John 7:1-4, Jesus’ brothers mock Him. Verse 5 tells us the reason, “For even his own brothers did not believe in him.” This is toward the end of Jesus’ ministry, likely about six months before His Crucifixion. This is after Jesus healed a man who had been disabled for 38 years, (John 5:2-9) fed 5,000 men with a boy’s lunch (John 6:5-14), and walked on water (John 6:16-21).

Even after more than two years of miracles, James is a skeptic. It would, after all, be rather hard to swallow the idea that the brother you had grown up with was really the Son of God.

Humbled Witness

1 Corinthians 15:7 specifically names James as one to whom Jesus appeared after His Resurrection. Seeing his dead brother walking and talking, James believes that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God sent to save people from their sins.

When he later writes the Epistle of James, he introduces himself not as the brother of Jesus or a leader of the church but as simply, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1).

Immediately after Jesus ascends to heaven, Acts 1:14 finds James with the apostles, praying and waiting for the promised Holy Spirit. James is one of the 120 filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the day the Church begins (Acts 2:1-4). From the moment he encounters Jesus the Risen Lord, James is whole-heartedly devoted to serving Him and His Church.

Who Was James In The Bible

James was a son of Mary and Joseph and therefore a half-brother to Jesus and brother to Joseph, Simon, Judas, and their sisters (Matthew 13:55). In the Gospels, James is mentioned a couple of times, but at that time he misunderstood Jesus’ ministry and was not a believer (John 7:2-5). James becomes one of the earliest witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7). He then stays in Jerusalem and forms part of the group of believers who pray in the upper room (Acts 1:14). From that time forward, James’ status within the Jerusalem church begins to grow.

James is still in Jerusalem when the recently converted Saul arrives to meet with him and Peter (Galatians 1:19). Several years later, when Peter escapes from prison, he reports to James about the miraculous manner of the escape (Acts 12:17). When the Jerusalem Council convenes, James is the apparent chairman (Acts 15:13, 19). He is also an elder of the church, called a “pillar” in Galatians 2:9. Later, James again presides over a meeting in Jerusalem, this time after Paul’s third missionary journey. It is believed that James was martyred about A.D. 62, although there is no biblical record of his death.

James is the author of the epistle of James, which he wrote somewhere between A.D. 50 and A.D. 60. James identifies himself by name but simply describes himself as “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1). His letter deals more with Christian ethics than Christian theology. Its theme is the outworking of faith—the external evidence of internal conversion.

A study of James’ life provides some important lessons for us. His conversion gives testimony to the overwhelming power that came from being a witness of Jesus’ resurrection: James turned from being a skeptic to a leader in the church based on his meeting the resurrected Christ. James’ speech at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15:14-21 reveals his reliance on Scripture, his desire for peace within the church, his emphasis of grace over the law, and his care for Gentile believers, although he himself ministered almost exclusively to Jewish Christians. Also worthy of note is James’ humility—he never uses his position as Jesus’ blood relative as a basis for authority. Rather, James portrays himself as a “servant” of Jesus, nothing more. In short, James was a gracious leader through whom the church was richly blessed.

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