The Apostle Saint James the Less

saint james the less
St. James the Less

James, the Lesser or Younger, son of Alpheus, or Cleophas and Mary, lived in Galilee. He was the brother of the Apostle Jude.

He is also called “the Minor”, “the Little”, “the Lesser”, or “the Younger”, according to translation. He is not to be confused with James, son of Zebedee (“James the Great or Elder”).

He is identified by some as James, the Lord’s brother, thought of by St. Jerome and those who followed him as really the cousin of Jesus.

James the Less was traditionally commemorated with St. Philip either on May 1 or May 3 in the Western Christian calendars.

He wrote the Epistle of James, preached in Palestine and Egypt, and was crucified in Egypt, according to legend.

One of the lesser-known disciples was James. Some scholars believe he was Matthew, the tax collector’s brother. James was a man with a strong personality and one of the fieriest types. Another legend has it that he died as a martyr and his body was sawed into pieces. His apostolic symbol was a saw.

Saint James the Lesser Birth/Early Life

St. James the Less, also called James, son of Alphaeus, or James the Younger, (1st century BC Galilee, Judaea, Roman Empire), one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus.

st. james the less, by el greco, c. 1595, oil on canvas - hyde collection - glens falls, ny
St. James the Less, by El Greco, c. 1595, oil on canvas - Hyde Collection - Glens Falls, NY

Saint James the Less Life With Jesus

Jesus called James, son of Zebedee, to be a disciple sometime after the call of James, son of Zebedee, which led to his identification as James “the Lesser.”

He, along with John and Peter, was regarded as early Church pillars, and St. Paul met with him to discuss how best to carry on the Church’s mission.

He was among the first to witness the risen Christ.

According to one legend, James declared after the Crucifixion that he would fast until Christ returned. The risen Jesus appeared to him and prepared a meal for him.

To avoid confusion with the other Apostle named James, whose feast we celebrate on July 25, James was given the nickname “the Less.”

We believe this means he was younger than the other St. James, known as “the Greater.” Alphaeus’ son was James the Less.

On the day Jesus was crucified, his mother stood alongside Mary at the Cross.

James the Less became an important part of the Church’s growth in Jerusalem after Jesus’ ascension.

According to tradition, he presided over an important meeting of the early Church, the Council of Jerusalem, in the year 50 AD.

St. Paul, St. Peter, and other Church leaders met at this time to discuss whether Gentiles or people who were not Jewish, could become followers of Jesus.

James carefully listened to the discussion and assisted the group in deciding that the Church was open to all and that all people could be saved by living as Jesus’ followers.

Accomplishments of Saint James the Lesser

"hendrik goltzius, saint james the less, probably 1589, engraving, rosenwald collection, 1943.3.9396"
"Hendrik Goltzius, Saint James the Less, probably 1589, engraving, Rosenwald Collection, 1943.3.9396"

Jesus Christ chose James to be a disciple by hand. He was present in Jerusalem’s upper room with the 11 disciples after Christ ascended to heaven. He could have been the first disciple to see the risen Christ.

Even though his achievements are unknown to us today, James may simply have been overshadowed by the more prominent disciples. Even so, being named one of the twelve was no small feat.

His most significant act was his intervention in the contentious relationship between Christians of Jewish origin and those of pagan origin.

In this regard, he worked with Peter to overcome, or rather integrate, the original Jewish dimension of Christianity with the need not to impose on converted pagans the obligation to submit to all the norms of the Law of Moses.

The Book of Acts has preserved for us the compromise solution proposed precisely by James and accepted by all the Apostles present, according to which pagans who believed in Jesus Christ were only to be asked to abstain from the idolatrous practice of eating the meat of animals sacrificed to the gods, as well as from “impropriety,” a term that probably alluded to irregular matrimonial unions, it was a question of adhering to only a few prohibitions of Mosaic Law held to be very important.

Saint James the Lesser in the Bible

James the Lesser was the son of Alphaeus, while James the Greater was the son of Zebedee (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:8; Luke 6:15). According to 5th-century theologian Jerome and 1st-century bishop Papias of Hierapolis, his mother was Mary of Cleophas (sister of Jesus’ mother).

He was also identified as Jude Thaddeus’ brother and possibly one of Jesus’ brothers (according to Galatians 1:19 and again according to Jerome).

Only a few verses in the Bible mention James the Lesser and what he did for the early church. He was one of the disciples who witnessed Christ’s resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7), a confidante of Peter when he was on the run from Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:17), and later rose to prominence in the church along with the other apostles. He was also credited as the writer of the Epistle of James.

saint james the lesser
Jakobus der Kleine

The Weakness of Saint James the Less

Like the other disciples, James deserted the Lord during his trial and crucifixion.

Saint James the Less Life Lessons

While James the Lesser is one of the least known of the 12, we can’t overlook the fact that each of these men sacrificed everything to follow the Lord. In Luke 18:28, their spokesman Peter said, “We have left all we had to follow you!

rembrandt the apostle james the less
Rembrandt The Apostle James the Less

The Death of Saint James the Less

If we connect James son of Alphaeus to James the Just (Jesus’ brother), we learn that he was pushed from the pinnacle of a temple where he was preaching, beaten with a fuller’s club, and stoned to death.

In art, James son of Alphaeus is commonly depicted with a fuller’s club, reflecting the church’s belief that he was the same person as James the Just.

However, according to the tradition that James son of Alphaeus preached in Egypt, he was crucified in the city of Ostrakine.

“On the Twelve Apostles of Christ”, Hippolytus, a theologian who lived in the second and third centuries, allegedly recorded James’ death:

„Und Jakobus, der Sohn des Alphäus, wurde, als er in Jerusalem predigte, von den Juden gesteinigt und dort neben dem Tempel begraben.“

Dies ist derselbe Tod, den die Tradition Jakobus, dem Bruder Jesu, zuschreibt, aber Gelehrte haben wenig Grund, „Über die zwölf Apostel Christi“ zu glauben.

Der Text wurde im 19. Jahrhundert entdeckt, und die meisten Gelehrten glauben, dass es sich um Pseudepigrapha handelt (eine Schrift, die fälschlicherweise behauptet, von jemandem geschrieben worden zu sein).

Infolgedessen verhindern die Zweideutigkeiten und Unbekannten, die Jakobus, den Sohn des Alphäus, umgeben, dass wir wissen, wie oder wo er starb.

Da jedoch die Mehrheit der Zwölf den Märtyrertod starb, wäre es überraschend, wenn einer der weniger bekannten Jünger wie Johannes an Altersschwäche sterben würde.

Sie gaben Familie, Freunde, Häuser, Jobs und alles, was sie kannten, auf, um dem Ruf Christi zu folgen.

Diese gewöhnlichen Männer, die Außergewöhnliches für Gott getan haben, dienten uns als Vorbilder. Sie legten den Grundstein für die christliche Kirche und starteten eine Bewegung, die sich schnell auf der ganzen Welt ausbreitete. Heute sind wir ein Teil dieser Bewegung.

v0033577 saint james the less and saint christina. colour lithograph credit: wellcome library, london. wellcome images saint james the less and saint christina. colour lithograph by n.j. strixner, 1829, after lucas van leyden. published:  -  copyrighted work available under creative commons attribution only licence cc by 4.0
V0033577 Saint James the Less and Saint Christina. Colour lithograph Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images Saint James the Less and Saint Christina. Colour lithograph by N.J. Strixner, 1829, after Lucas van Leyden. Published: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

Saint James the Less Key Takeaway

Der Apostel Jakobus, der Sohn des Alphäus, wurde auch als Jakobus der Kleine oder Jakobus der Kleine bezeichnet. Er darf nicht mit Jakobus dem Apostel, dem ersten Apostel und dem Bruder des Johannes verwechselt werden.

Im Neuen Testament gibt es den dritten Jakobus. Er war der Bruder von Jesus, ein Leiter der Jerusalemer Gemeinde und der Autor des Buches Jakobus.

Jede Auflistung der 12 Jünger enthält Jakobus von Alphäus, der in der Reihenfolge immer an neunter Stelle steht.

Although the Apostle Matthew (known as Levi, the tax collector before becoming a follower of Christ) is identified as the son of Alphaeus in Mark 2:14, scholars doubt he and James were brothers. The two disciples are never mentioned in the Gospels.

Zusammenfassung Saint James the Less

Der heilige Jakobus der Kleine, der Verfasser des ersten katholischen Briefes, war der Sohn von Alphäus von Kleophas. Seine Mutter Maria war entweder eine Schwester oder eine nahe Verwandte der Heiligen Jungfrau, und aus diesem Grund wurde er nach jüdischem Brauch manchmal Bruder des Herrn genannt.

Der Apostel hatte eine herausragende Stellung in der frühchristlichen Gemeinde Jerusalems. St. Paul sagt uns, dass er ein Zeuge der Auferstehung Christi war; er ist auch eine „Säule“ der Kirche, die der heilige Paulus über das Evangelium konsultierte.

Der Legende nach war er der erste Bischof von Jerusalem und nahm um das Jahr 50 am Jerusalemer Konzil teil. Die Historiker Eusebius und Hegesippus schrieben, der heilige Jakobus sei im Frühjahr des Jahres 62 von den Juden für den Glauben gemartert worden, obwohl sie bewunderte seine Person sehr und gab ihm den Nachnamen „Jakobus der Gerechte“.

Er gilt seit jeher als Verfasser des Briefes, der seinen Namen trägt.

Interne Beweise, die auf der Sprache, dem Stil und der Lehre des Briefes beruhen, zeigen, dass sein Autor ein Jude ist, der mit dem Alten Testament vertraut ist, und ein Christ, der gründlich in den Lehren des Evangeliums verwurzelt ist. Externe Beweise von den frühen Vätern und Konzilen der Kirche bestätigten ihre Authentizität und Kanonizität.

Frequently Asked Questions James the Less

What did James the Just believe?

James, or James the Just, as he is sometimes called, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. He was also the brother of Jesus Christ. In early Christian tradition, James was one of the Three Pillars of the Church, along with Peter and John.
James is best known for his epistle that bears his name, which discusses faith and practical living. In this epistle, James states that faith without works is dead. This teaching has been extremely influential in Christian thought and practice.
What did James believe? We can get a good sense of this from his epistle. Some key points would include faith versus works, wisdom from above versus wisdom from below, and care for orphans.

Why is St James called the lesser?

There’s a bit of debate over why Saint James is called the “lesser.” Some say it’s because he was the younger brother of Saint John the Evangelist. Others say it’s because he wasn’t one of the Twelve Apostles. Whatever the reason, we do know that Saint James was a very important figure in early Christianity.
Saint James was one of the first leaders of the Church in Jerusalem, and his writings are some of the earliest Christian documents that have survived to this day. He was also martyred for his faith, which makes him a very important saint in terms of Church history. So even though he may be called the “lesser,” Saint James is still a pretty big deal.

Did Little James have a disability?

Saint James the Lesser soll eine Behinderung gehabt haben, aber wir sind nicht genau sicher, was es war. Einige Leute sagen, er hatte einen Klumpfuß, andere sagen, er sei taub. Aber unabhängig von seiner spezifischen Behinderung wissen wir, dass er ein großer Jünger Jesu Christi war und eine wichtige Rolle in der frühen christlichen Kirche spielte.

Wofür ist Jakobus der Kleine der Schutzpatron?

St. James the Lesser ist der Schutzpatron von Stromausfällen, Kommunikationsstörungen und schlechtem Kundenservice. Er ist auch der inoffizielle Schutzpatron der Irritation und Frustration. Wieso den? Weil er der Apostel ist, der immer alles falsch gemacht hat.
Als Jesus im Garten Gethsemane festgenommen wurde, war es die Geschichte, der heilige Jakobus rannte, um den anderen Aposteln zu erzählen, was passiert war. Aber anstatt zu sagen: „Jesus wurde verhaftet“, sagte er: „Judas hat ihn verraten.“ Als Judas später am Abend mit einer Gruppe römischer Soldaten im Versteck der Jünger auftauchte, um Jesus zu verhaften, dachten natürlich alle, der heilige Jakobus habe sie auch verraten

Wie starb St. James the Less?

Saint James the Less wurde gemartert, indem er mit einer Keule zu Tode geprügelt wurde.


Scrolle nach oben