James: Less No More
Updated: Nov 14
Part 6, Overcoming the Disciples’ Challenges series
James the son of Alphaeus has two other names in the Bible - James the lesser and James the younger. This could be a description of his physical stature, or it could be the order of his birth – he is younger; hence, he has an older sibling. Or it could also mean he was of lesser significance in his home and community, always living behind-the-scenes. Little is known about him but we can pick up some clues from many passages.
1. Who was James the son of Alphaeus?
· Distinct from James the half-brother of Jesus who was listed in the 1st place in the order of names.
“3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” Mark 6:3.
· James the son of Alphaeus is always listed 9th in the order of names listed in Matthew 10:2-4 and Mark 3:16-19.
“Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”),18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.” Mark 3:16-19.
· Jesus converted James, son of Alphaeus to faith earlier than James His half-brother.
· Every bit of James’ being, was being transformed in Christ.
“17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18.
· Every bit of giving the self its worth was now gone and he found his worth in Jesus alone.
“15 I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15.
To briefly sum it up, James, the less, was distinct from the half-brother of Jesus, he was made new in Christ, a disciple, and a friend of Jesus.
2. He was hand-picked to carry God’s wisdom.
“27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Cor. 1:27-31.
· God chose the lowly persons considered by this world as “fools” to shame the wise.
· God despises human philosophical views that boast against Him because they prevent people from knowing Christ.
· The lowly ones gladly accept God’s Word and their perception of reality, reveals the wisdom of God.
“8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:8.
3. The lesser was given eternal recognition.
2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God… 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” Revelation 21:2-3; 14.
· The new Jerusalem city, a place of God and his holy people, would come down from heaven on the new earth.
· That city will have walls with 12 foundations where the names of the 12 apostles will be written on.
· The bride in verse 2, is an important metaphor for the church, and she will also be recognized in the final celebration of their union with Jesus.
What further lesson could we learn from James the son of Alphaeus? Our duty is to respond to His call to discipleship and God will bring the outcome of our call.