Courage for life Blog

Study of James Sneak Peek

January 31, 2022

The following is a sneak peek of the first session of our in-depth study of the book of James via Instagram Live (@GodGivesCourage). Join Courage For Life each Wednesday beginning February 16 at 3 p.m. ET (12 p.m. PT), where we will walk verse-by-verse through the book of James. This live session will last less than 30 minutes each week, with a replay available on our Instagram feed afterward.

James 1:1
This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes”—Jewish believers scattered abroad. Greetings!

Who is James?

When answering this question, most scholars and historians look to four different Jameses specifically mentioned in the New Testament.

The first passage I want us to look at is where Jesus appoints His twelve disciples.

Luke 6:12-16
One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles. Here are their names: Simon (whom he named Peter), Andrew (Peter’s brother), James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (who was called the zealot), Judas (son of James), Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).

Three different Jameses are mentioned by name in this one passage:

  1. James, the brother of John (typically mentioned together)
  2. James, son of Alphaeus
  3. James, the father of Judas (not the Judas who betrayed Jesus)

These three Jameses show up together again in Scripture after Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. In Jerusalem, a group of believers was obeying Jesus’ command to not leave until the Father sent them the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:13-14
When they arrived, they went to the upstairs room of the house where they were staying. Here are the names of those who were present: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (the zealot), and Judas (son of James). They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.

Again, three different Jameses are mentioned by name in this one passage:

  1. James, the brother of John (typically mentioned together)
  2. James, son of Alphaeus
  3. James, the father of Judas (not the Judas who betrayed Jesus)

However, a fourth James is not mentioned by name in this passage but by his relationship to Jesus, “the brothers of Jesus.” The brothers of Jesus are identified by name in the book of Matthew when Jesus was in Nazareth, His hometown. He taught in the synagogue, and while most were amazed, others were a bit more skeptical.

Matthew 13:55
Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas.

So, we can add the fourth James to our list:

  1. James, the brother of John (typically mentioned together)
  2. James, son of Alphaeus
  3. James, the father of Judas (not the Judas who betrayed Jesus)
  4. James, the brother of Jesus

These are the four Jameses specifically mentioned in the New Testament that most scholars and historians look to when answering the question

Who is James?

Join me on Instagram Live (@GodGivesCourage) Wednesday, February 16 at 3 p.m. ET (12 p.m. PT) to discuss each of these Jameses, what we know from Scripture and history, and who likely is the James who wrote this letter we know as the book of James.

Follow Courage For Life on Instagram to join us for this study each week.

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