James the Just

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James called "the Just", who is also called the Lord's brother in the New Testament, whom Josephus mentions and Eusebius praises, was the first Episcopos of Jerusalem and author of the Epistle of James, who afterward was slain for his witness to the Lord.

James the Just in the New Testament

Matthew 14:55
Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses[1], and Simon, and Judas?

Mark 6:3
Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses[1], and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

Acts 12:17
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.

Acts 15:13(-21)
And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying Men and brethren, hearken unto me: ...

Acts 21:18
And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.

1 Corinthians 15:7
After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

Galatians 1:19
But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.[2]

Galatians 2:9, 12
9And 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.
12For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them of the circumcision.

James 1:1
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

Jude 1
Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:

James the Just in Eusebius[3]

The following is adapted from The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus[4]

James, called the brother of our Lord, because he is also called the son of Joseph, who was esteemed the father of Christ, because the Virgin, being betrothed to him "was found with child by the Holy Spirit before they came together."

This James, whom the ancients surnamed "the Just", because of his excellent virtue, was the first who received the episcopate of the church in Jerusalem. Clement, in the sixth book of his Institutions, says that Peter, James, and John, after the ascension of our Lord, though preferred by him, did not contend for that honor, but chose James the Just as bishop of Jerusalem. And in his seventh book he says that the Lord imparted the gift of knowledge to James the Just, to John, and Peter after his resurrection, and delivered it to the rest of the apostles, and they to the seventy, of whom Barnabas was one.

During the forty years that God delayed the destruction of Jerusalem, the majority of the apostles and disciples, and James himself, the first bishop there, usually called the brother of our Lord[5], still surviving and still remaining at Jerusalem, remained the strongest protection of the place. For their sake the Divine Providence bore with the Jews with long-suffering, to see if by repentance for what they had done to Christ they might obtain pardon and salvation.

There were two Jameses: one who was beheaded, and the other called the Just, who was thrown from a wing of the temple, and beaten to death with a fuller's club[6].

The times of the bishops in Jerusalem have not been regularly recorded and preserved, because tradition says they all lived only briefly. However, from writers of the time, down to the invasion of Judea under Hadrian, there were fifteen successions of bishops in that church, all Hebrews from the beginning, who received the knowledge of Christ pure and unadulterated, so that, according to those who were able to judge, they were well-approved and worthy of the episcopal office. The first was James called the brother of our Lord[5]; the second was Simeon, the third Justus, the fourth Zaccheus, the fifth Tobias, the sixth Benjamin, the seventh John, the eighth Matthew, the ninth Phillip, the tenth Seneca, the eleventh Justus, the twelfth Levi, the thirteenth Ephres, the fourteenth Joseph, and finally the fifteenth Judas.

James the Just in Josephus[7]

The following is adapted from The Works of Josephus[8]

When Festus[9] died in A.D. 62, Nero Caesar sent Albinus to Judea as procurator. But before he arrived, King Herod Agrippa II quickly appointed Ananus, a man inclined to rashness, to the high priesthood. He was a son of the elder Ananus called Annas, son of the same Annas before whom Christ Jesus was brought after he was taken in the Garden of Gethsemane. This elder Annas, after having been high priest, had five sons, all of whom achieved that office, which was unparalleled. This younger Ananus with characteristic rashness followed the Sadducees, who were heartless when they sit in judgment. With Festus dead and Albinus still on the way Ananus thought he had his opportunity. He convened the judges of the Sanhedrin and brought before them James, the brother of Jesus the Christ, the Anointed One, and certain other men, whom he accused of transgressing the law, and condemned them to be stoned to death.

The people of Jerusalem who were considered most fair-minded and strict in observing the law were offended. They privately urged King Agrippa to order Ananus to desist from any further such actions. Some of them even went to meet Albinus on his way from Alexandria, and informed him that without his permission Ananus had no authority to convene the Sanhedrin. Albinus angrily wrote to Ananus, threatening vengeance for this.

See also

Council of Jerusalem

Early Christianity


  1. 1.0 1.1 A Joses was the son of Mary the wife of Cleophas (KJV) or Clopas (RSV).
    See the following verses:
    Mark 15:47
    And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid
    Matthew 27:55-56
    55And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: 56Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.
    Luke 24:10
    It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these thing unto the apostles.
    John 19:25
    Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
    See multiple commentaries on John 19:25.
    Either Mary's sister is not named in John 19:25, or Mary's sister's name is Mary the wife of Cleophas, which would make her a cousin within the same clan and her sister according to the customarily broad Jewish usage of brother and sister for relative and kinsman, since no parent would give two sibling children born to them the same name (although an orphan child of a deceased relative compassionately adopted into the family might have the same name as a child born naturally to the adoptive parents). If that is the case, that Mary's sister is Mary the wife of Cleophas, then James (the Just) the brother of Joses, is a son of Cleophas, a relative and kinsman of Jesus, but not born of Mary the mother of Jesus, his brother within the family of David.
    This is one of the arguments of Catholic and Orthodox apologists in defense of the doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity. See Helvidius.
  2. Paul declares that James also is an apostle. The Book of Acts says the same of Barnabas as well. Acts 14:14.
  3. The account of Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book I, chapter 12; Book II, chapters 1 and 23; Book III, chapter 8; Book IV, chapter 5; Book VII, chapter 19;
  4. The Ecclesiastical History Of Eusebius Pamphilus: Bishop Of Caesarea, In Palestine, Translated from the Greek by C. F. Crusé, A.M., Assistant Professor in the University of Pennsylvania, published London, George Bell and Sons, York Street, Covent Garden, 1874, pp. 31, 36-7, 83, 119, 273.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "usually called the brother of our Lord".
    Eusebius, when not quoting other writers, such as Hegesippus, who call James (the Just) the brother of the Lord, always states that James (the Just) was "called the brother of our Lord". He shows in several places in his Church History that he was not convinced that James the Just was the natural offspring of Joseph and Mary the mother of Jesus, but the son of a relative according to Jewish custom called a brother of Jesus, and a son of a relative of Mary the mother of Jesus, not James the son of Alphaeus, but James the brother of Joses the son of Mary the wife of Cleophas (KJV) or Clopas (RSV) (Mark 15:47; Matthew 27:56; Luke 24:10; John 19:25).
    See Helvidius.
  6. A club used in the bleaching of cloth.
  7. The account of Josephus, Antiquities 20.9.1
  8. The Works of Josephus, Translated by William Whiston, A.M., Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusettes 01961-3473 ISBN 0-91573-86-8, pp. 537-8.
  9. This is the same Porcius Festus who succeeded Felix as governor of Judea in Acts 24:27, and was afterward accused to Nero of abusing his authority over the Jews. Josephus, Ant. 20.8.9–20.9.1