St James, Brother of the Lord

aka James the Just

Commemorated Oct 23/ Nov 5

10 Things[1]



St James the Just, Brother of the Lord, first bishop of Jerusalem. 
james-brother-of-the-lord.jpg1. St James is called the “Brother of the Lord”. He was one of 4 sons of Joseph from a previous marriage, all of which are named in scripture[2]. He is given this title because, as the Prologue[3] explains:


“When Joseph was dying, he shared out his goods among his sons and wanted to leave a share to the Lord Jesus, the Son of the most holy Virgin Mary, but his sons opposed this, not reckoning Jesus to be a brother of theirs. James, though, loved Jesus greatly and announced that he would include Him in his share, counting himself to be indeed brother to the Lord.” 

The Flight into Egypt. St James is seen behind the Theotokos. 
flight-into-egypt-01.jpg (from

2.  The Holy Apostle accompanied his family when they fled to Egypt, to escape the wrath of Herod, shortly after Jesus was born. (St James is behind the Theotokos in the icon.)


3. The Holy James was counted among the Seventy disciples of the Lord. No doubt he was always near Jesus but the two Apostles among the twelve named James are different men.


4. Although James was not one of the Twelve, he was so highly respected by his peers that he became the first bishop of Jerusalem, even with some of the Apostles living there at the time. From this it is clear that he was respected as a holy and righteous man.  He governed Jerusalem for thirty years, before his martyrdom.


5. St James was so respected by all, including even unbelieving Jews, that he was nicknamed “the Just”.


6. St James remained a virgin all of his life, and is said to have never eaten fat or oil.


7. He was also a great lover of long prayer vigils at night, and is said to have “knees like a camel”, from kneeling in prayer often.


8. He composed the first Liturgy, on the instruction of the Lord. It proved to be too long for later Christians to use everyday, and was later shortened by St Basil and St John Chrysostom. We still serve the “Liturgy of St James” to this day, in some places.


9. St James wrote the Epistle of James. It is remarkable in the NT for bluntly and plainly stressing the moral life that a Christian must lead.


10. St James was martyred in Jerusalem. From The Prologue from Ohrid:


“When Ananias became High Priest, he decided, along with other of the Jewish elders, to kill James as a preacher of Christ. One day, at Pascha, when many people were gathered in Jerusalem, the elders told him to climb up onto a roof and speak against Christ. St James climbed up there, and began to speak to the people about Christ as the Son of God and the true Messiah, and of His Resurrection and eternal glory in heaven. The infuriated priests and elders cast him down from the roof, and he was badly injured though still alive. A man then ran up and gave him such a vicious blow on the head that his brains spilled out. Thus this glorious apostle of Christ died a martyr's death and entered into the Kingdom of his Lord. James was sixty-three years old when he suffered for Christ.”



From St Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney


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[1] This document is a list of ten (more or less) things about a particular topic. More “Ten Things” topics may be found at They are also posted to the blog of St Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney Texas, called  “Redeeming the Time” – Look under the category “10things”. Use anything you wish, but please indicate authorship, with the URL.

[2] Mat 13:54-57 KJV  And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?  (55)  Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?  (56)  And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?  (57)  And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.

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St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas