Part 10

November 26, 2017


BEFORE we begin, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, take a moment to name your sins to God the Father. This will allow you to be filled with the power of The Holy Spirit as you read this booklet (EPH 5:18 & 1JO 1:9). IF YOU HAVE never believed in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have that opportunity right now. Simply tell God the Father that you are believing on His Son Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you make that decision, you are now a believer and will always be a child of God! When you die, you will spend eternity with Him forever in heaven! (JOH 3:16 & ACT 16:31).


The apostle James was the Son of Alphaeus. His name, James, is the English translation of the Greek name IAKOBOS from IAKOB or Jacob, which means, “supplanter.” The Hebrew equivalent is YAAQOB. A supplanter is someone who replaces (someone or something) especially by dishonest or forceful means. James’ father’s name – Alphaeus – means “changing.”  If James the son of Alphaeus is also “James the Less,” then it is thought that his father was also known as Clopas or Cleophas (King James Version) meaning, “my exchanges” from the Hebrew CHELEPH meaning, “exchange.” This is further linked in that the name Alphaeus is of Hebrew origin from CHELEPH. CHELEPH was also a city in the Naphtali region of Israel. Another thought is that Clopas could have been his grandfather, but this is not known for certain.


James the Less is better translated James the Little as the Greek HO MIKROS means, “the small or little.” James is mentioned in MARK 15:40: There were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome. But it would be better translated as James the Little or little James as he might have also been given this title either because he was younger than James the son of Zebedee or because he was short.


All of the men named James in the Bible get highly confused. Some lump them together or combine them in various ways. Nelson’s Dictionary does a good job of defining each separately. James “the son of Alphaeus,” is always mentioned as such in the apostolic lists. Where “James the Less” is only mentioned to identify one of the Mary’s at the Cross of Our Lord as in MARK 15:40 (above). Nevertheless, many throughout church history make James the son of Alphaeus and James the Less (the son of Mary who is the wife of Clopas) one and the same. This is probable in light of his father’s name, as noted above.


Some equate James the Less with James the brother of Our Lord which is very unlikely. Some have applied the phrase, his mother’s sister in JOH 19:25 to Mary the wife of Clopas, instead of to Salome, as we identified earlier in our study regarding the sons of Zebedee, John and James. As such, this would make James the Less the cousin of Our Lord. But this is not likely.


Given His father’s name Alphaeus, from the Hebrew Celeph a region in the land of Naphtali, he may have been from the tribe of Naphtali. But according to the Genealogies of the Apostles, if this James is also called “the less,” then from the accounting of his mother Mary, we know that James had a brother, Joses or Joseph: Among them was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. (MAT 27:56)  Of interest, Our Lord also had brothers named Simon, James, Jose, and Judas: Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. (MARK 6:3) But these were common names of the day and are not the same people. As we noted above, Matthew (Levi), is also a son of Alphaeus so it is possible but not probable that he and James were brothers.


An interesting thing about James the Less is we actually know nothing about him. Some say he was a tax collector, but this is not verified. He is listed as one of the twelve Disciples (See Mat 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13) He heads the last group of four including Thaddeus, Simon Zelotes, and Judas Iscariot. He is not distinguished by name in any occasion reported in the Gospels or Acts. By Matthew and Mark, he is coupled with Thaddaeus and by Luke and Acts, with Simon Zelotes.


As stated above, his legacy is highly confused. “Foxes Book of Martyrs” states, “Is supposed by some to have been the brother of Our Lord, by a former wife of Joseph.” This is very doubtful, and accords too much with the Catholic superstition, that Mary never had any other children except our Savior.” The book confuses James the Less with Our Lord’s true half-brother, James, who was not an Apostle by stating, “He was elected to the oversight of the churches of Jerusalem and was the author of the Epistle ascribed to James in the sacred canon.”   But the James that headed the Church in Jerusalem and wrote the Epistle is the half-brother of Our Lord from Mary and Joseph. We have no real information about this Apostle.


“Foxes Book of Martyrs” also states: “At the age of ninety-four he was beat and stoned by the Jews; and finally had his brains dashed out with a fuller’s club.” It is also recorded in “The Martyrdom of James” that James was stoned by the Jews for preaching Christ and was “buried by the Sanctuary in Jerusalem.” But this sounds similar to the brother of Our Lord, James’ account. Some also say he was martyred by crucifixion at Ostrakine in Lower Egypt, where he was preaching the Gospel.


Now we will look at the apostle Thaddaeus who was also known as Lebbaeus, and as Judas the son of James. He was one of Jesus’ twelve Disciples that included two named Judas: Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?” (JOHN 14:22)

The surname Thaddaeus is used in MAT 10:3 and MARK 3:18; the King James Version uses Lebbaeus in MAT 10:3. The name by which Luke calls the apostle, “Judas of James” (see LUKE 6:16 and ACTS 1:13) is somewhat confusing as to the relationship of Jude to this James. It might suggest a relationship of father and son, but the King James Version has interpreted it as “brother,” trying to connect James the son of Alphaeus and Jude/Thaddaeus (who he follows in the Matthew and Mark lists) together as brothers. In addition, others have supposed the reason for the change to “Judas of James” was that sometime during the ministry of Our Lord, Thaddaeus had died and “Judas of James” replaced him. But this cannot be verified. The Gospel of John once mentions this same Judas as “not Iscariot” in JOHN 14:22.


The use of Judas has led many to confuse him with the half-brother of Our Lord. When comparing the listings of the Apostles between Matthew and Mark with Luke (LUKE 6:16; ACTS 1:13), it seems impossible to doubt that Judas and Thaddaeus were the same person.

Some say that because the name “Judas” was so tarnished by Judas Iscariot, it was natural for Mark and Matthew to refer to him by his alternate name. Finally, it is noted that some even called him Judas the Zealot, either confusing him with Simon or that he may have been from the same sect as Simon that sought to overthrow Roman occupation.


The name Thaddaeus means “gift of God” in Greek, but derived from Hebrew or Aramaic meaning “breast.” The name Lebbaeus means “heart or courageous.” Judas is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew personal name Judah meaning “Praise Yahweh.” Interestingly, Iscariot means “men of the city” from the Hebrew. So, Judas not Iscariot would mean, “Praise Yahweh but not from the men of the city.” Many scholars say, as we saw with James the son of Alphaeus, that there is no information on this Apostle. Yet some talk about him. Much though, seems to be confused with either a Thaddaeus of Edessa or Jude the Lord’s half-brother.


Nevertheless, we have the following, we have some information. Some say that Thaddaeus/Jude was born into a Jewish family in Paneas, a town in Galilee, later rebuilt by the Romans and renamed Caesarea Philippi. In all probability, he spoke both Greek and Aramaic, like almost all of his contemporaries in that area, and was a farmer by trade. Thaddaeus, a.k.a. Jude, is clearly distinguished from Judas Iscariot, who later betrayed Our Lord Jesus.


We cannot say much about his personality other than that, if he were bi-lingual and a farmer, he would have been a hard worker and had tremendous patience. Based on the question, he asks Our Lord in JOH 14:22, he seems to be a very caring individual: “What then has happened?”


{to be continued}

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