Biblical People

Biblical People: James (3), the Brother of Jesus

We know Jesus has several brothers and sisters—half-brothers and sisters, sharing Mary as their mother. Remember, Jesus is the son of Mary and the Holy Spirit—God is his father—while his siblings are the offspring of Mary and Joseph.

One of Jesus’s half-brothers is James. We don’t read much about James during Jesus’s lifetime, but a couple of accounts incriminate James.

First, John writes that even Jesus’s own brothers don’t believe him. That would include James.

Another time, the crowd keeps Jesus so busy that he can’t even eat. His family hears about it and comes to get him. They think he’s out of his mind, and they seek an intervention.

Though Jesus’s family, including James, is well-intended, they’re also misguided. They see things from a human perspective, while Jesus holds a spiritual understanding. 

So, James, as part of Jesus’s family, doesn’t believe him and tries to pull him away from his mission.

However, we later see Paul affirming Jesus’s brother James as an apostle. And in Acts we see James leading the discussion about Gentile believers and determining how the church should move forward. That’s quite a transformation.

James starts out doubting his brother Jesus and ends up leading his followers.

Do we accept that others can change, or do we view them according to their past?

[Discover more about James in Matthew 13:55, Mark 3:21, Mark 6:3, John 7:2–5, Acts 15:12–21, and Galatians 1:19.]

Read more about other biblical characters in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at