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JAMES – THE LORD’S BROTHER

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, April 5, 2015

“After that, he was seen of James, then of all the apostles”
(I Corinthians 15:7).


Five men in the New Testament were named James:


1.  James, the son of Zebedee.

2.  James, the son of Alphaeus.

3.  James the Less.

4.  James, the father of Judas.

5.  James, the brother of Jesus.


The James in our text was the half-brother of Jesus. He is first mentioned in Matthew 13:55 and the parallel passage, Mark 6:3, which tells us that the people of Jesus’ home town of Nazareth rejected Him. Listen to Mark 6:3-5.

“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin [relatives], and in his own house. And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them” (Mark 6:3-5).

Jesus had been conceived by the Holy Spirit, so Joseph was His stepfather. Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus, is not mentioned. He was probably dead by this time. James is listed first, in verse three, indicating that he was Jesus’ oldest half brother. James, and the other three men mentioned in verse three, were Jesus’ half brothers. Their parents were Mary and Joseph. James was listed first, because he was the oldest brother, born after Jesus. James was Mary’s second child.

As we go through the New Testament, we learn three main things about this man James, the brother of Christ.

I. First, James was an unbeliever.

You can tell that James was an unbeliever from the sixth chapter of Mark. Notice the end of verse 3, “And they were offended at him.” This includes the people of Nazareth, where Jesus grew up – and I believe that it also includes James, and Jesus’ other brothers and sisters. They were offended that He presented Himself as a teacher, having come from a humble background. “Is not this the carpenter?” (Mark 6:3). Jesus’ words in verse four shows that James and His other brothers and sisters were also offended by His preaching,

“A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin [relatives], and in his own house [household]” (Mark 6:4).

His own relatives, including His brother James, did not honor Him. Then, verse six says,

“And he [Jesus] marvelled [wondered with astonishment] because of their unbelief…” (Mark 6:6).

That makes it perfectly clear that Christ’s half-brother James did not believe in Him.

Now listen to Matthew 12:46-50.

“While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:46-50).

Matthew Henry gave these comments:

His mother and brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him, when they should have been standing within, desiring to hear him…His disciples that had left all to follow him…he preferred them before his relations (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson, 1996 reprint, volume 5, pp. 144-145).

Concerning Matthew 12:46-50, Dr. John R. Rice said,

The “brethren” of Jesus are His half brothers whose names were James, Joses, Simon and Judas…These were the children of Mary and Joseph, while Jesus was the Son of Mary and of God. These brethren were evidently not converted at this time and did not believe in Jesus (Dr. John R. Rice, The King of the Jews, Sword of the Lord, 1980, p. 189).

The elder brother, James, would have been among them. He still did not believe in Jesus. In John 7:5 it says, .

“For neither did his brethren believe in him” (John 7:5).

Dr. Rice said, of this verse,

The brothers of Jesus – James, Joses, Simon and Judas (Matthew 13:55) – born of Mary and Joseph after Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, were not saved before the crucifixion (v. 5). So perhaps with a sneer in their rejection of His claim to be the Messiah, they insist He go up to Jerusalem and do some more miracles to please His disciples (Dr. John R. Rice, The Son of God, Sword of the Lord, 1976, p. 158).

So, we leave James and Jesus’ other brothers here, sneering “in their rejection” of Him as the Saviour.

II. Second, James was converted.

In Matthew 12:46 we are told that James “stood without,” while Jesus preached to the people inside. But after Christ rose from the dead, James was inside, with the Christians on the day of Pentecost. In Acts 1:14 we read,

“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren” (Acts 1:14).

James was there, one of “his brethren.” He was finally converted! The Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible says,

After Jesus’ crucifixion, however, James became a believer. Paul indicated that James was a witness to the resurrection of Jesus (Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible, Herbert Lockyer, Sr., editor, Thomas Nelson, 1986, p. 533).

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says,

…the seeds of conversion were being sown within him, for, after the crucifixion, he remained in Jerusalem with his mother and brethren, and formed one of that earliest band of believers who “with one accord continued stedfastly in prayer” (Acts 1:14)… James was one of the earliest witnesses to the resurrection, for, after the risen Lord had manifested Himself to the five hundred, “he was seen of James” (I Corinthians 15:7 AV). By this his growing belief and prayerful expectancy received confirmation (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Eerdmans, 1976, volume III, p. 1561).

“After that, he was seen of James, then of all the apostles” (I Corinthians 15:7).

III. Third, James became the pastor of the church at Jerusalem.

So great was the impact of seeing his brother risen from the dead, that James became an Apostle, a great preacher, and the author of one of the books in the New Testament. In Galatians 2:9 the Apostle Paul tells us that he went to Jerusalem and met with James, Peter and John.

I will not go into a description of the council that was held in Jerusalem, but I will just read two verses in Acts 21:18-19.

“And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry” (Acts 21:18-19).

These verses show that James had become the pastor of the church at Jerusalem. Dr. A. T. Robertson said, “Clearly James is the leading elder” (Word Pictures, volume III, p. 367; note on Acts 21:18). James who had been an unbeliever, encountered the living Christ, and was now the pastor of the first Christian church in the world.

But James was a very humble man. In the epistle he wrote in the New Testament, he did not call himself an Apostle, although he was one. He did not even call himself a bishop, pastor, or elder. Turn to the book of James, chapter one, verse one. Here is what James wrote. Let us stand and read the first verse.

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

You may be seated.

There is that great Christian’s description of himself: “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Notice that he called his brother “the Lord Jesus Christ.” No one would know about that better than James. After all, Jesus was his own brother! And James simply called himself Christ’s “servant.” How did this great transformation come about in his life?

“After that, he was seen of James…” (I Corinthians 15:7).

James saw his brother after He rose physically from the dead. To the end of his life, James proclaimed that he had seen the resurrected Christ, whom he called, “The Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1).

Can we believe James? Is he a trustworthy witness to Christ’s resurrection? Yes, he is – because James gave up his very life proclaiming that Jesus had risen from the dead. He was an eyewitness to his brother’s resurrection!

Eusebius was an historian who lived in the fourth century. Eusebius called James, “James the Just.” In his history of the early church, Eusebius tells us how James died. Eusebius is quoting from Clement, who lived even earlier, in the first century. Eusebius quotes Clement concerning James,

For they say that Peter and James and John after the ascension of our Saviour, as if also preferred by our Lord, strove not after honor, but chose James the Just bishop of Jerusalem… The Lord after his resurrection imparted knowledge to James the Just and to John and Peter, and they imparted to the rest of the apostles, and the rest of the apostles to the seventy, of whom Barnabas was one… [James] was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple and was beaten to death with a club (Eusebius, c. 260-340 A.D., “The Church History of Eusebius” in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Eerdmans, 1982 reprint, volume I, p. 104).

Here is a description of the death of James from The New Encyclopedia of Christian Martyrs:

      They hauled James up to the front of a great crowd and demanded that he deny Christ. To their surprise James remained calm and showed unexpected tranquility before this hostile crowd. James openly declared that our Saviour and Lord, Jesus, was indeed the Son of God…
      Clement tells us that they seized James, threw him off a parapet [of the temple] and then clubbed him to death…
      The Scribes and Pharisees forced James to stand on the Sanctuary parapet and shouted out to him, “Righteous one, whose testimony we have to accept, you are leading the people astray and encouraging them to follow Jesus, who was crucified…” James called back, “Why do you ask me about the Son of Man? He sits in heaven at the right hand of the Great Power, and he will return on heavenly clouds.”
      Many in the crowd [below] were persuaded by James’ words, and cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David.”
      The Scribes and Pharisees realized that they had made a…mistake in allowing James to testify about Jesus…So they threw [him] over the parapet, and then stoned him, as the fall did not kill him. James…prayed, “Lord God and Father, I pray thee, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.” So the Righteous one was martyred. He was buried where he fell and his headstone remains there (The New Encyclopedia of Christian Martyrs, Baker, 2001, p. 23).

He gave up his life because,

“After that, he was seen of James…” (I Corinthians 15:7).

He was

“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…”
       (James 1:1).

Do you think James really saw Christ after He rose from the dead? Can you trust the witness of this man? Can you believe that he saw his brother, Jesus, after He rose from the dead? I say you can trust James because he was willing to die rather than deny that his brother, Jesus, had risen from the dead! And if you can trust James’ testimony, will you trust his brother? Will you trust Jesus and be saved? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). Dr. Chan, please lead us in prayer. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: I Corinthians 15:1-7.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“The Strife Is O’er” (translated by Francis Pott, 1832-1909).


THE OUTLINE OF

JAMES – THE LORD’S BROTHER

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“After that, he was seen of James, then of all the apostles”
(I Corinthians 15:7).

(Mark 6:3-5)

I.   First, James was an unbeliever, Mark 6:3, 4, 6;
Matthew 12:46-50; John 7:5.

II.  Second, James was converted, Acts 1:14.

III. Third, James became the pastor of the church at
Jerusalem, Galatians 2:9; Acts 21:18-19;
James 1:1; Acts 16:31.