Friday, February 3, 2017
Block 47 James the Less
“So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” James 2:17
The Apostle James is another mystery man. He is described in Mark 15:40 as “James the Less”. We can only assume that he was being compared to James, son of Zebedee, and that he was either shorter or younger than the other disciple. In Galatians 1:19, James the Less is described as “brother of the Lord.” While some believe that James was Joseph’s son by a previous marriage, it is most likely that James was Jesus’ cousin.
What we do know is that James was one of the twelve apostles who were present in the upper room after Christ’s ascension to heaven. He is listed as such in Matthew, Mark, Luke and Acts. In his epistle, James calls himself “servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” He speaks with authority, and was considered to be the leader of the early church of Jerusalem. Paul reported to James and sought his opinion several times. At times, it appears that James is in conflict with Paul regarding faith and works. But their differences are most likely a difference of vocabulary. Paul describes faith as the believer’s relationship with Christ, whereas James describes faith as sound theology in relation to works. Where James emphasizes works (James 2:14-17), Paul emphasizes fruits of the Spirit (Galations 5:22-23). But ultimately, they are talking about how we live our lives, how we demonstrate our faith to others and how we serve the Lord.Like most of the apostles, James was martyred for his faith. He was thrown from the roof of the temple in Jerusalem by the Pharisees. He was stoned and had his brains bashed out with a club. Throughout the attack, James continued to pray for his attackers. It is said that just before he died, James forgave his attackers. Truly faithful to the end, James continued to follow the words and acts of Jesus Christ by forgiving his attackers and praying for them.