James was one of Jesus Christ's half-brothers. Their father was a carpenter where Jesus Christ's natural father was God by creation of seed within Mary.
And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles:
Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,
Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Called Zelotes,
And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.
Many Bible scholars believe that James the son of Alphaeus who was one of the twelve apostles is the same James who is one of the Lord Jesus Christ's half-brothers. If this is true then Alphaeus is either another name by which Joseph was known or Mary was re-married at sometime. This would also indicate that the apostle Judas the brother of James was one of the Lord Jesus Christ's half-brothers.
Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.
At about the time period of Acts Chapter 9, three years after Paul was born again, he visits Jerusalem to see the top leaders in the Church. He goes to see Peter. The only other person Paul visits with is James the Lord's brother. Here is indication that Peter and James the Lord's brother were the leaders in Jerusalem.
But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.
By this point in the book of Acts it appears as though James the Lord's brother was in the chief position in the church at Jerusalem. Peter had been the leader on the day of Pentecost. Peter and John had been the top men who were sent "by the apostles" to Samaria in Acts 8:14. The Word of God in Acts 9 focuses on Peter moving the word out to Judaea, Galilee and Samaria. And it is Peter who is called to open the Word of God to the Gentiles in Acts Chapter 10. However, following his move out to the Gentiles the leadership in Jerusalem seems to shift away from Peter. In Acts chapter 12, James the brother of John is killed and Peter is taken captive by Herod. After an angel releases him from prison, Peter tells the believers to show these things unto James. It appears that at this point James the half-brother of the Lord Jesus Christ holds one of the chief leadership positions in Jerusalem if he is not in fact the top man.
And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
Wherefore my sentence is . . .
And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
It is James who makes the final proclamation of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 and it is his declaration that makes up the written letters documenting the decision of the council. Paul recognized James, Peter, and John as "pillars" at the council. Although he does rise up to recognize the Gentile believers at this council, James never shows any sign of recognizing that the Judean believers also do not have to keep the law. It appears that James is the driving force behind having the Judean believers keep the law even after this council meeting.
For before that certain came from James, he [Peter] did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
James held such power in Jerusalem and his focus on Judean believers keeping the law was so well known and respected that even the great apostle Peter was moved with fear to keep the law about not eating with Gentiles when men came "from James" to Antioch soon after the Jerusalem Council.
And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.
In the early days of the book of Acts it was "the apostles" who were leading the church. In Acts 15 "the apostles and elders" make up the Jerusalem Council and James appears to be in the chief position. By the time of this record in Acts 21 there is no indication that any of the apostles other than James are left in Jerusalem. The Judean church is being run by "James and the elders" who convince Paul to make an outward show of keeping the law which results in his being captured, put in prison and taken to Rome for judgment.
James is the author of the book of James which is addressed "to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad" and addresses the walk of Judean believers who were living outside of Jerusalem. The book of Jude is written by Jude the brother of James.
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