Faith At Work

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Who’s in charge today?

Dr. Jim Denison

James 1:1

Who was James?

The book of James names its author in its first sentence: “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:1). But which James? The NT uses the name 42 times, of which 38 identifications are certain:

19 refer to James the brother of John and son of Zebedee

4 refer to James son of Alphaeus

3 refer to a son of Mary

2 refer to a half-brother of Jesus

8 refer to an unspecified James, a pillar of the Jerusalem Church

2 refer to “Judas son of James.”

James the son of Zebedee is the most prominent James in the Gospels.

He was among Jesus’ first disciples (Mark 1:29).

His mother was probably Salome (Matthew 27:56: among those at the cross were “Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons”; Mark 15:40: “among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome”).

John 19:25 lists these women at the cross: “his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.” Unless John omitted his own mother from his listing of the women at the cross, it is likely that she is one of these four and thus the sister of Jesus’ mother Mary. As a result, her sons James and John were Jesus’ cousins.