James (1.) The son of Zebedee and Salome; an elder brother of John the apostle. He was one of the twelve. He was by trade a fisherman, in partnership with Peter (Matt. 20:20; 27:56). With John and Peter he was present at the transfiguration (Matt. 17:1; Mark 9:2), at the raising of Jairus's daughter (Mark 5:37-43), and in the garden with our Lord (14:33). Because, probably, of their boldness and energy, he and John were called Boanerges, i.e., "sons of thunder." He was the first martyr among the apostles, having been beheaded by King Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:1, 2), A.D. 44. (Comp. Matt. 4:21; 20:20-23).
(2.) The son of Alphaeus, or Cleopas, "the brother" or near kinsman or cousin of our Lord (Gal. 1:18, 19), called James "the Less," or "the Little," probably because he was of low stature. He is mentioned along with the other apostles (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15). He had a separate interview with our Lord after his resurrection (1 Cor. 15:7), and is mentioned as one of the apostles of the circumcision (Acts 1:13). He appears to have occupied the position of head of the Church at Jerusalem, where he presided at the council held to consider the case of the Gentiles (Acts 12:17; 15:13-29: 21:18-24). This James was the author of the epistle which bears his name.