James, The Great Apostle:
The most characteristic feature of James and that of his brother, John, was their impulsive and fiery temperament.
They found it difficult to harness anger when in situations that required tolerance and humility.
James and his younger brother, John, lived in the fishing village of Bethsaida on the shores of the sea of Galilee. They joined Peter and his brother, Andrew, and became the four fishermen, the first to be called by Christ to follow Him.
When we study the few references to James in the gospels, we understand the appropriate name given to him and John when they became apostles.
When Christ appointed the twelve, He renamed Peter, James and John:
"16 And Simon He surnamed Peter;
17 And James the son of Zebedee,and John the brother of James,
and He surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder."There are few biblical references to James, but those mentioned are of significance. He is prominent alongside Peter and John, as this trio accompanying Christ, in closer relationship with Him. They were grouped together, Peter, James and John, and shared some of the more intimate experiences with Christ of His ministry.
James was one of the apostles chosen by Christ to be with Him in the garden of Gethsemane to watch over Him in His hours of agony and suffering. "He taketh with Him Peter, James and John."
Its is recorded in the New Testament that James was the first apostle to be martyred for his faith.
"1 About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. 2 He killed James the brother of John with the sword, 3 and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also."King Herod Agrippa I was the nephew of Herod Antipas, who beheaded John the Baptist, and was the grandson of Herod the Great who had the children of Bethlehem murdered in search of the Messiah.
Dying by the sword meant beheading in this culture of King Herod who desired to win approval of the Jewish leaders.
"It was his intimacy with Christ and faith in His power that made this "son of thunder" heroic. Here again is a man whose character changed under the influence of Christ. At first the two brothers are noisy zealots who thundered against the evils of the day, denouncing hypocrites in high places. But he is not always thus; he changes slowly into a man of peace and silence. Fellowship with Christ has done it. He has command of his temper. His heart is calm within and seeks no revenge. He has learned of Jesus Christ to be meek and lowly in heart. He has found rest.
James rose above Herod and his sword bathed in blood to touch on bended knee the Royal Scepter of Heaven. Thus, he became greater in death than in life, for the sword of Herod was crossed by the Sword of the Spirit. "
All the Apostles of the Bible, Herbert Lockyer, 1972, p.80