King Herod kills James (Acts 12:2)

“King Herod

Had James,

The brother of John,

Killed

With a sword.”

ἀνεῖλεν δὲ Ἰάκωβον τὸν ἀδελφὸν Ἰωάνου μαχαίρῃ.

The author of Acts indicated that this King Herod Agrippa I had James (δὲ Ἰάκωβον), the brother of John (τὸν ἀδελφὸν Ἰωάνου), killed (ἀνεῖλεν) with a sword (μαχαίρῃ).  James was the first martyr to be beheaded among the apostles.  This comment is very short compared to the longer explanation about the martyrdom of Stephen, the deacon, in chapter 7.  Luke, chapter 5:10, introduced James with his brother John as the sons of Zebedee, the companions or partners of Simon.  In Matthew, chapter 4:18-22, and Mark, chapter 1:17-18, John and James were the fisherman sons of Zebedee, who might have been fairly successful, since their father was explicitly mentioned and seemed to own a boat.  John, chapter 1:40-42, had these two brothers from the town of Bethsaida.  When these two brothers were mentioned, James was always listed first.  Mark, chapter 3:17, called them the sons of thunder.  These two brothers were always among the three favorite apostles with Peter, especially at the Transfiguration of Jesus in Luke, chapter 9:28.  Luke, chapter 22:24, also said that these two apostles were arguing about who was the greatest.  This question about the greatest can also be found in Matthew, chapter 18:1, and Mark, chapter 9:33-34.  Luke, chapter 23:49, indicated that their mother might be called Mary also.  Thus, James was a significant leading apostolic follower of Jesus.  His death with a sword would have been an important blow to this developing assembly or church in Jerusalem.  Do you know anyone who was killed with a sword?

4 thoughts on “King Herod kills James (Acts 12:2)

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