Jesus’ Kid Brother

Jesus had a kid brother.

He appears outside the Bible. Ancient reporters including Josephus and Hegesippus mention him as a leader of the early Christian church. Paul’s letter to the Galatians mentions him the same way (Galatians 1:19 and 2:9).

The Bible gives only piecemeal details about his personal story, but just those details are enough to outline a powerful narrative:

1. James was one of several kid brothers to Jesus—Matthew 13:55.

2. While Jesus was preaching, James didn’t believe his message—John 7:5.

3. But something changed. We later see James praying among the believers—Acts 1:14.

What changed? Paul makes clear what the moment must have been. In 1 Corinthians 15:7, Paul reports that Jesus appeared to James personally after Jesus had died, after he had risen from his grave.

In fact, in Paul’s list of the resurrection appearances of Jesus, only two witnesses are mentioned by name. Along with James, Peter (Cephas) also had a personal visit.

Later, these two men would both make important beginnings. Peter preached the first Christian sermon—in Acts chapter 2.

And James wrote the first New Testament text.

I am about to begin something different on this blog. Throughout October, I hope to devote daily posts to that very text—the letter of James. As I describe here, this concise letter provides an apt point of entry into the Bible, albeit an unusual one. I plan to begin 31 Days of James on Monday, October 1.