James, Elder and Apostle

James Gives His Life for Jesus

Acts 11: 27 -12: 3

James was the brother of John, and both of them were the sons of Zebedee, the fisherman. At the time Jesus called them to be disciples, they were working on their father's boat in the Sea of Galilee in northern Palestine.

James and John, with Peter and Andrew, made up the central group of the twelve disciples, as all four were present at all the significant events in Jesus' life and ministry.

James and John were called Boanerges, which means sons of thunder. The phrase may refer to their father, Zebedee, or it may be a way of saying their temperaments were like lightning - at one point they joked about calling down fire from heaven.

The brothers were loyal disciples of Jesus - he sent them as partners in mission to Samaria - and they asked whether their reward would be to sit at his right hand in heaven.

James was the first of the disciples to die for his faith in Jesus, killed by the sword (probably beheaded) in Jerusalem by Herod Agrippa I.

A very late tradition of the 17th century says that James was a missionary to Spain before he returned to Jerusalem to be executed. People in Spain still honor James, and cockle shells are his symbol. Coquilles St. Jacques (scallops) are named for him.

James is the New Testament version of the Old Testament name Jacob. Jesus was surrounded by several people named James, so we are not completely sure which one is which.

Another James, the son of Alpheus (and perhaps the brother of Matthew), was also a disciple of Jesus. James, the brother of Jesus, who was highly honored by the early Christians, is probably the author of the Letter of James in the New Testament.

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