We read of three men named James in the Bible.  Two of the Lord’s apostles were named James.  We read first of James, the brother of John in Matthew 4:21, “And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.”  James was included in the Lord’s inner circle of three.  One example of that is found in Mark 14:33, “And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy.” 

Now, let’s read Matthew 10:2-4, “Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; JAMES THE SON OF ZEBEDEE, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; JAMES THE SON OF ALPHAEUS, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.”  Here we can clearly see that there were two different men among the Lord apostles who were named James.  There is very little known about this James.  In Mark 15:40, he was referenced as “James the less” which probably referred to his small stature. 

The Lord Jesus had four earthly brothers as we read in Mark 6:3, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.”  Sadly, at this point, the Lord’s brothers did not believe on Him.  We read in John 7:5, “For neither did his brethren believe in him.”  There seems to be a time when James, Juda, and possibly all the Lord’s siblings did come to believe on Him.  This may have been between His crucifixion and ascension for we read that when all the apostles gathered together in an upper room, the Lord’s mother and family were that as we read in Acts 1:14, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”

The book of James was written around 48 AD.  It is estimated that James the Apostle was killed in 41-42 AD. Let’s read Acts 12:1-4, “Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.”  From this, we know that James the apostle did not write the book of James.

James, the brother of the Lord, was very significant in the early church.

  • The risen Lord Jesus appeared privately to James. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)
  • He was singled out to Peter by the Lord. (Acts 12:17)
  • He was sought out by the Apostle Paul. (Galatians 1:9)
  • He was called a ‘pillar of the church’ by the Apostle Paul in 49 AD. (Galatians 2:9)
  • He played a prominent role in the Jerusalem Council. (Acts 15:13-21)

Considering all these things, most consider that it was James ,the earthly brother of the Lord, that wrote the book of James.  Also, most consider that it was Juda, another earthly brother of the Lord, that wrote the book of Jude.  (CC)  (561.2)