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Sermon on Luke 6:12-16 - The Lives of the Twelve Apostles Part 2

James the son of Alphaeus, brother of Matthew, is also called "James the Less," Mk. 15:40, probably meaning 'James the younger," or "James the shorter," to distinguish him from James the brother of John. His mother was probably one of the women who went to Christ's tomb early on Sunday to anoint Jesus' body, Mk. 16:1.

The mother of James the son of Alphaeus is called "His (Jesus) mother's sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas," in John 19:25 and "Mary, the mother of James" in Mk. 16:1. Now, we can learn several things here: (1). If James is identified as the son of Alphaeus and Mary; and if Mary is said also to be the wife of Clopas, then there must be an identification of the two fathers' names. The Hebrew name Halphai in the Talmud and the Aramaic name, Chalpai, in I Maccabees are almost transliterated into Clopas. This in the Greek form becomes Alphios. James' father, therefore, may be the disciple Cleopas, who walked with the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus. His son, James, is mentioned seven times in the New Testament. (2). If James' mother was the sister of Mary the mother of Jesus, then that makes James and Matthew, the first cousins of Jesus. Matthew and James, then, would be distantly related to James and John, the sons of Zebedee, also first cousins of Jesus, on his mother's side, according to some Greek texts of Mark 16:1.