Did Jesus have family drama?

Jude 1a – Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James…

In a book I wrote a few years ago called Spirit-Filled Jesus, I explain saying, “Beyond a few of their names, we know very little about Jesus’ brothers and sisters except for His half-brothers James and Jude. Although he was Jesus’ brother (Matt. 13:55), James was not a believer until Jesus appeared to him following the resurrection (Mark 3:21; 1 Cor. 15:7). He was with the apostles at Pentecost (Acts 1:14) and became a leader of the Jerusalem church (Gal. 1:19, 2:9; Acts 12:17, 15:12–21). His two nicknames are ‘James the Just’ for his character and ‘Camel Knees’ from praying so much.”

In Jude 1, the author introduces himself as, “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James…” In Galatians 2:9, Paul calls James a pillar holding up the church along with Cephas (Peter) and John. Both James and Jude went on to be devoted Christian pastors, worshipping their big brother Jesus and writing books of the Bible bearing their names. James also presided over the conference held in Jerusalem to welcome Gentile converts in the church (Acts 15). His work opened up the gospel beyond the Jewish people and can be credited in large part for the existence of Christianity as a global movement of the Spirit to this day. 

Additionally, James died a martyr’s death in service to his half-brother. We read that, “…James the half-brother of Jesus was executed…he was thrown off the temple and still alive, was stoned to death.” (1) Dying, James echoed His big brother Jesus from Luke 23:34 saying, “…forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (2) One archaeological expert says, “When James is murdered…it is Simon…who takes over leadership of the movement.” (3)

Jesus’ Spirit-filled family is the most incredible and impactful for good in world history. Before Jesus died and rose, His family (including his half-brothers James and Jude) thought he had lost His mind claiming to be God come down from Heaven to die on the cross and rise from the dead to save sinners (John 7:5; Mark 3:21,31). Everything changed when Jude and the rest of Jesus’ family (along with His friends and followers) saw our Lord physically risen from death and ascended into Heaven, which causes His “mother” and “brothers” to begin worshipping Him as God as the first members of the early church (Acts 1:14). 

One Bible commentary says, “Though others called Jude ‘brother of the Lord’ (1 Cor. 9:5), he preferred to style himself brother of James and servant of Jesus Christ. It is a further mark of his modesty that he was prepared to accept the position of playing second fiddle to James, his more celebrated brother. Barclay cites the parallel of Andrew, content to be known as Simon Peter’s brother. ‘Both Jude and Andrew might well have been jealous and resentful of their far greater brothers. Both must have had the gift of gladly taking second place.’” (4)

Jude was Jesus’ brother. Look up what the Bible says about being adopted into God’s family with Jesus as your new Big Brother (Matthew 12:46-50; Romans 8:14-16; Galatians 4:4-7).

  1. H.E. Ecclesiastical History (Eusebius) II xxiii. 12–19). Quoted in D. A. Carson, The Gospel according to John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans, 1991), 389.
  2. http://biblehub.com/library/pamphilius/church_history/chapter_xxiii_the_martyrdom_of_james.htm#1
  3. James D. Tabor, “Testing a Hypothesis,” Near Eastern Archaeology 69, no. 1–4 (2006): 133.
  4. Michael Green, 2 Peter and Jude: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 18, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987), 180.

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