10 Facts about St. James the Just, the Brother of the Lord and the First Bishop of Jerusalem

1. St James, called the “Brother of the Lord”, was one of 4 sons of Joseph from a previous marriage, all of which are named in scripture. He is given this title because, as the Prologue explains:

“When Joseph was dying, he shared out his goods among his sons and wanted to leave a share to the Lord Jesus, the Son of the most holy Virgin Mary, but his sons opposed this, not reckoning Jesus to be a brother of theirs. James, though, loved Jesus greatly and announced that he would include Him in his share, counting himself to be indeed brother to the Lord.” 

2.  The Holy Apostle accompanied his family when they fled to Egypt, to escape the wrath of Herod, shortly after Jesus was born. (St James is behind the Theotokos in the icon.)

3. The Holy James was counted among the Seventy disciples of the Lord. No doubt he was always near Jesus but the two Apostles among the twelve named James are different men.

4. Although James was not one of the Twelve, he was so highly respected by his peers that he became the first bishop of Jerusalem, even with some of the Apostles living there at the time. From this it is clear that he was respected as a holy and righteous man.  He governed Jerusalem for thirty years, before his martyrdom.

5. St James was so respected by all, including even unbelieving Jews, that he was nicknamed “the Just”.

6. St James remained a virgin all of his life, and is said to have never eaten fat or oil.

7. He was also a great lover of long prayer vigils at night, and is said to have “knees like a camel”, from kneeling in prayer often.

8. He composed the first Liturgy, on the instruction of the Lord. It proved to be too long for later Christians to use everyday, and was later shortened by St Basil and St John Chrysostom. We still serve the “Liturgy of St James” to this day, in some places.

9. St James wrote the Epistle of James. It is remarkable in the NT for bluntly and plainly stressing the moral life that a Christian must lead.

10. St James was martyred in Jerusalem. From The Prologue from Ohrid:

“When Ananias became High Priest, he decided, along with other of the Jewish elders, to kill James as a preacher of Christ. One day, at Pascha, when many people were gathered in Jerusalem, the elders told him to climb up onto a roof and speak against Christ. St James climbed up there, and began to speak to the people about Christ as the Son of God and the true Messiah, and of His Resurrection and eternal glory in heaven. The infuriated priests and elders cast him down from the roof, and he was badly injured though still alive. A man then ran up and gave him such a vicious blow on the head that his brains spilled out. Thus this glorious apostle of Christ died a martyr’s death and entered into the Kingdom of his Lord. James was sixty-three years old when he suffered for Christ.”

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  1. Your history given above is simply wrong. James was the brother of Jesus (see Mark, where the four brothers of Jesus are named, and his sisters also referenced).
    You just want Mary to be, and to maintain, her virginity. So you resort to stories made up.

    1. Dear Unknown,

      let us look at Galatians 1:19 , ” But the other of the apostles i saw none saving James the brother of the Lord.” This James is called the brother of the Lord as well but not the brother you are referring to as James “the brother” was already martyred in Acts 2:12, ” And he killed James, the brother of John, with the sword.”

      Likewise, Lot is called the brethren of Abraham even though he was not a sibling but the nephew in Gen 13:8.

  2. Dear Unknown,

    No,YOU are wrong!

    For one thing, there are many countries where we don't have a word for "cousins". We just use the word "brother" and add a few details if necessary. I'm from one of those countries so what is inconceivable to you is actually very normal to me, and to the people who spoke Aramaic, in Biblical times.

    As for the perpetual virginity of the Most Holy Mother of God, you don't believe in its possibility, so what ?

    Your point of view is only valid in your head. It is not going to shake the foundations of 2000 years of History and tradition.

    You seem to have theological issues that are going way beyond etymology and doctrines.

    All the best.

  3. Mary (actually Miriam) is not the most holy mother of God.
    She was the physical mother of the Messiah.
    Human beings are not holy, alive or dead.
    Only God the father is holy, and also his son Yahushua.

    1. Christians believe that Jesus, the Son of God and the Messiah, is God. Since Jesus is God incarnate, then Mary, His Mother, is the Mother of God.
      We believe that Jesus is both the perfect God and the perfect human. Mary gave birth to the man Jesus, but the Person of Jesus is Divine. Therefore, Mary can be called the Mother of God, because She gave birth to the One Who is equal to the Father.

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