Part 4

October 15, 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).


James, The Greater is the next apostle at which we are going to look. James is the English translation of the Greek name IAKOBOS from IAKOB or Jacob, which means, “supplanter.” A supplanter is someone who replaces (someone or something) especially by forceful means. You will see in this study that James was an intense and forceful man so his name fits!


James was the older brother of John: And He [Jesus Christ] allowed no one to accompany Him, except Peter and James and John the brother of James. (MAR 5:37). And he was one of the two sons of Zebedee. His mother was Salome, who is most likely the sister of Our Lord’s mother Mary. That would make James and John first cousins of Our Lord Jesus and also related to the family of John the Baptist. He was a native of Bethsaida. His father was apparently a man of some wealth, since he owned a fishing ship and hired servants; his mother often contributed financially to The Ministry of Our Lord. As noted previously, James and his brother were fishermen and partners with Simon and Andrew by trade.


As we will learn in this study, James tended to be hot-tempered and somewhat impetuous. His intense and sometimes fanatical nature may have led to James’ and John’s surname “Sons of Thunder!” This is mentioned in MARK 3:17: … and James, the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (to them He [Jesus Christ] gave the name Boanerges, which means, “Sons of Thunder”)


Philip Schaf in his book “History of the Christian Church” wrote: “Thunder to the Hebrews was the voice of God. It conveys the idea of ardent temper, great strength and vehemence of character, whether for good or for evil, according to the motive and aim. The same thunder which terrifies does also purify the air and fructify [cause to bear fruit] the earth with its accompanying showers of rain.”

So, we see eagerness, zeal, passion, yet obedience in James’ nature. His vehemence and fanaticism made him feared and hated among the Jewish enemies of the Christians; and this eventually lead to his martyrdom.


With respect to his role among the disciples, the first thing we learn about James is that he’s a fisherman. The call to James to follow Christ is recounted in MAT 4:18-22: Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.


James often took care of Our Lord’s daily needs. When called by Our Lord to be His follower in the spring or summer, James and his brother responded with an eagerness that made them models of obedience: Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him. (MARK 1:19-20)

James along with his brother John are in the list of the twelve apostles in MAT 10:2; Mark 3:14, 17; Luke 6:13-14; Acts 1:13. These brothers and Peter were part of Our Lord’s “inner circle” and seemed for some reason to be especially fitted to live in close intimacy with The Lord. They travelled with Him on several trips and were with Him at the raising of the synagogue ruler’s daughter, at the Transfiguration, and at His arrest in Gethsemane.

Now, shortly after the Transfiguration, Jesus was determined to go to Jerusalem, and was passing through Samaria. At this time, James and John were fired up by the unfavorable reception granted to Our Lord by the people there: and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (LUKE 9:52-54) So essentially, James (and his brother) wanted to punish the people who lived in the village. They asked, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” This may be why they were called “Sons of Thunder” by Our Lord. When they asked this Jesus turned and rebuked them…” (LUKE 9:55)


James is always mentioned with his brother John (and mentioned first, probably for being the elder). After the crucifixion, we do not have any mention of James for 14-years until his martyrdom. He was the first of the Apostles to be martyred. His death is the only one mentioned in the New Testament; he was slain with a sword at the command of King Herod Agrippa I of Judea sometime in A.D. 42-44: Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword. (ACTS 12:1-2)

            James is also considered the patron saint of Spain. The legend states that he preached there and supposedly was the first to bring the country the Gospel of Christ. The legend also speaks of his death in Judea and the subsequent transportation of his body by ship under the guidance of angels to Iria. Also, they say that his miraculous appearances played heavily in the history of Spain. This led to giving him the name “Santiago Matamoros” (“Saint James the Moor-Slayer”). These traditions are also the basis for the pilgrimage route in Spain that began to be established in the 9th century, and the shrine dedicated to James at Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia in Spain, which became one of the most famous pilgrimage sites for Catholics. The Way of “St. James” is a tree of routes that cross Western Europe and arrive at Santiago through Northern Spain.

{to be continued}

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