The Apostle James, also known as James the Greater or James son of Zebedee
The Apostle James, also known as James the Greater or James son of Zebedee, was one of the twelve apostles chosen by Jesus Christ to be his closest followers and witnesses to his ministry.
Extended biography of the Apostle James the Greater
James was born in the fishing village of Bethsaida, located on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, in the first century AD. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and he had a younger brother named John, who would also become one of the apostles. James and John were nicknamed “Sons of Thunder” by Jesus, possibly due to their fiery and zealous personalities.
James and his brother John were fishermen by trade, working alongside their father and their fellow apostles Peter and Andrew. It was while they were working on their fishing boat that Jesus called them to be his disciples. In the Gospel of Matthew, it is mentioned that Jesus found James and John mending their nets, and he invited them to follow him (Matthew 4:18-22).
James, along with his brother and Peter, formed an inner circle among the apostles and had the privilege of witnessing some of Jesus’ most significant moments. They were present at the Transfiguration, where Jesus’ glory was revealed on a mountaintop (Matthew 17:1-9). They also accompanied Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion (Matthew 26:36-46).
James’ strong commitment to Jesus is evident in his request to be seated at Jesus’ right hand in his kingdom (Mark 10:35-45). However, Jesus responded by teaching them about true greatness and the need to serve others. This event caused some tension among the apostles, but Jesus used it as an opportunity to teach humility and sacrificial love.
Like the other apostles, James had his moments of weakness and misunderstanding. For instance, when Jesus faced rejection in a Samaritan village, James and John suggested calling down fire from heaven to consume the villagers, but Jesus rebuked them (Luke 9:51-56).
James’ apostolic ministry extended beyond Jesus’ earthly ministry. Following Jesus’ death and resurrection, he became a prominent figure in the early Christian community. The Acts of the Apostles mentions James as being present with the other apostles during the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus (Acts 1:12-14).
Around the year 44 AD, James became the first of the apostles to be martyred. King Herod Agrippa I, in an effort to please the Jewish authorities, had James executed by the sword (Acts 12:1-2). This event marked the beginning of a wave of persecution against the early Christians.
Despite his relatively brief apostolic ministry, James left a lasting impact on the early Christian Church. His commitment, zealous nature, and willingness to serve Jesus and others serve as an example for believers throughout history.
It’s worth noting that there is another apostle named James, known as James the Less or James son of Alphaeus, to distinguish him from James the Greater. However, the details about James the Less are less prominent in the biblical accounts.
The Apostle James the Less or James son of Alphaeus
James the Less, also known as James son of Alphaeus, was one of the twelve apostles chosen by Jesus Christ. Here’s some information about James the Less:
James the Less is referred to as “James son of Alphaeus” in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, distinguishing him from James the Greater, the son of Zebedee. The term “Less” is believed to be derived from the Latin word “minor” (meaning “younger” or “smaller“) and was likely used to differentiate him from James the Greater.
James the Less was called by Jesus to be one of the twelve apostles. He became a disciple and followed Jesus during his ministry. Although there is limited information about James the Less in the New Testament, he is listed among the twelve apostles in all four Gospel accounts (Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:15, Acts 1:13).
Relationship to Jesus
It is uncertain whether James the Less was a blood relative of Jesus. Some early Christian traditions suggest that he may have been a cousin or a brother of Jesus. However, the term “brother” used in the New Testament can also refer to close familial relationships or spiritual kinship. Therefore, the exact nature of their relationship remains a subject of debate among scholars.
Ministry and Role
While the biblical accounts do not provide specific details about James the Less’ ministry or his role among the apostles, it is believed that he played an important part in spreading the teachings of Jesus. Like the other apostles, James the Less would have been a witness to Jesus’ ministry, his crucifixion, and his resurrection.
According to early Christian tradition, James the Less was martyred for his faith. It is believed that he was stoned to death in Jerusalem, possibly around the year 62 AD. This tradition is mentioned by the early church historian Eusebius of Caesarea and is generally accepted by scholars, although historical details about his martyrdom are scarce.
James the Less is considered the patron saint of hatmakers and tanners. This association stems from a tradition that connects him with these trades, although the historical accuracy of these connections is uncertain.
While the information about James the Less is limited, his inclusion among the twelve apostles highlights his significance as a witness to Jesus’ ministry and his contribution to the early Christian community. His martyrdom reflects the challenges faced by early believers in spreading the Gospel message.
Biography of James the less by the early church historian Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea, also known as Eusebius Pamphili, was an early Christian historian and bishop who lived from around 260 to 340 AD. He is best known for his work “Ecclesiastical History” (also known as “Church History“), which provides valuable insights into the development of Christianity in the first few centuries. While Eusebius did not write a specific biography of James the Less, he did mention him and provide some historical context in his writings.
In his “Ecclesiastical History,” Eusebius refers to James the Less and his martyrdom. He mentions that James, the son of Alphaeus, was one of the twelve apostles chosen by Jesus. Eusebius also states that James was surnamed “the Just” and that he held an important position of leadership in the early Christian community in Jerusalem.
Regarding the martyrdom of James the Less, Eusebius writes that James was accused by the Jewish authorities and brought before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council. They condemned him to death by stoning. Eusebius does not provide specific details about the circumstances surrounding his martyrdom or the exact date, but he mentions that it took place during the reign of the Jewish high priest Ananus, sometime around the year 62 AD.
Eusebius also mentions that the Jewish historian Josephus, in his work “Antiquities of the Jews,” made reference to the martyrdom of James. Josephus describes the execution of James and states that his death caused the downfall of Ananus as high priest.
It is important to note that while Eusebius is a significant early Christian historian, his writings are not without their limitations. Some scholars have questioned the accuracy and reliability of certain details in his accounts. However, Eusebius’ works remain valuable sources for understanding the early history of Christianity and the lives of important figures like James the Less.
Overall, Eusebius’ references to James the Less in his “Ecclesiastical History” provide valuable historical information about the apostle’s martyrdom and his role in the early Christian community in Jerusalem.
Biblical References for both Apostles
James 1 (letter by James the Greater)
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. …
Search Results for James in the New Testament (make sure to check the references for context and other translations)
Matthew 4:21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Matthew 10:2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Matthew 17:1 The TransfigurationAfter six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Mark 6:3 “Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Mark 9:2 The Transfiguration: After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Mark 10:35 The Request of James and JohnThen James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Mark 16:1 Jesus Has Risen. When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Luke 5:10and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me.” In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
1 Corinthians 15:7
Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. In Context| Full Chapter | Other Translations
James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
26 James 1:1
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Saint James Rosary on Amazon
Saint James the apostle on Amazon
Eusebius Ecclesiastical History on Amazon