Shalom Chavurah!


GOAL: To know the background and personality of the Apostle James and to draw lessons for our Believer's way of life.

OBJECTIVES: 1. To see Ya'akov's obedience and willingness to follow the Adonai Yeshua HaMashiach.

2. To see the zealous and ambitious character of Ya'akov .

3. To know that zeal for the Lord’s work must operate in the context of love for people.

TEXT: Matt 10:1-4; Mk 3:16-19; Lk 6:13-16; Acts 1:13; Lk 9:51-56; Matt 20:20-24; Acts 12:1-4a

MEMORY VERSE:At once they left the boat and their father and went with Yeshua (Mattityahu 4:22)


  1. His position among the Twelve Talmidim (Apostle)

Ya'akov and Yochanan, along with Kefa, constituted the Master’s inner three, being permitted to see and hear things that others did not. Perhaps these three men were destined to be leaders of the early church that our Lord showed them:-

  1. His greatness in raising the dead (Mk 5:37)
  2. His glory on the Mount of transfiguration (Mk 9:2)
  3. His grief in the garden of GatSh'manim (Gethsemane) (Mk 14:32)

    Quick Review the Names of the 12 Talmidim (Apostles)
    Shimon Kefa - Simon Peter
    Yaakov Ben Zavdai - James son of Zebedee
    Yochanan - John his brother
    Bartalmai - Bartholomew
    Toma - Thomas
    Mattityahu - Matthew tax collector
    Yaakov bar Halfai - James son of Alphaseus
    Taddai - Thaddaeus
    Shimon Zealot - Simon the Cananite
    Yhudah K'riot - Judas Iscariot
It is interesting to note that there is very little information for so prominent an apostle. Ya akov’s name when mentioned, was nearly always mentioned before Yochanan (John). This probably indicates his seniority and John MacArthur suggested that Yaakov may have been the leader of this rather dynamic duo.

  1. His family
  2. He was called Ben Zavdai (son of Zebedee) and the brother of Yochanan. His father, Zavdai, was a fisherman who owned several boats on the sea of Galilee and had hired servants in his business (Mk 1:19-20). Some infer additional evidence of their affluence from the fact that Yochanan, was ‘known to the high priest’ (Jn 18:15). Perhaps, the family owned property in Yerushalayim and or had business connections there. The family also had business associations with Shimon Kefa (Simon Peter) (Lk 5:9-10). His mother Shalome, may have been a sister of the mother of our L_rd (Matt 27:56; Mk 15:40; Jn 19:25).

  3. His call
  4. Yaakov seems not to have been with Kefa (Peter, Rock) and Andrew in their pilgrimage to Judea, where they heard of the ‘Lamb of God’ and received their first call to discipleship (Jn 1:35-51). Perhaps Yochanan was the other disciple of Yochanan the Immerser who was with Andrew (v 40). If so, Yaakov probably stayed home to tend the business and upon their return to Galil (Galilee), the recounting of the events of Judea may have left deep impression on James. At any rate, he was well prepared for the call, later at the sea of Galil (Lk 5:2-11).

    Notice how the brothers, in obedience, left everything and followed Messiah Yeshua (Matt 4:22). Rather than catching fish, the L_rd wanted the sons of Zavdai to become fishers of men.

  5. His personality

    1. His title
    2. Adonai Yeshua (Jesus) called Yaakov and John ‘Boanerges’, which means ‘sons of thunder’ (Mk3:17). The title described their zeal, passion, fervour, ambition and aggressiveness.

    3. His vengeful zeal (Lk 9:51-56)
    4. Not long after the Transfiguration, and towards the close of His Galilean ministry, the L_rd was leading His disciples through Shomrom (Samaria) towards Yerushalayim. Messiah Yeshua sent Yaakov and Yochanan to find group lodging for the night. When they were not welcome, Yaakov and Yochanan used the precedence of Elijah (2 Kings1:10) asking permission from the Master to send fire down from Heaven, to destroy the Shomronim (Samaritans). Here, we see Yaakov’ impure zeal was mixed with fumes of pride and anger. More noteworthy is the Master’s response (v 56). The L_rd reinforced His teaching with His example. He moved on to more receptive soil.

      Yaakov’ perception on this issue changed as he was being trained and molded by the Master. The L_rd commanded His Talmidim (disciples) to witness unto all men (Acts 1:8) including areas in Shomrom. Scholars believed that Yaakov likely made trips into the same region and preached the Word.

    5. His excessive ambition (Matt 20:20-28; Mk 10:35-45)
    6. In this incident, we notice the self-seeking attitude of both Yaakov and Yochanan. Messiah Yeshua directed His reply to the brothers, rather than their mother, as He knew that they were behind the request. They were ambitious and wanted to rise to the position of great privilege in the Kingdom. The L_rd taught them the great lesson on humility (Matt 20:25-28).

    7. His early martyrdom (Acts 12:1-2)

Yaakov suffered martyrdom about a decade after Pentecost. Why Yaakov? It seemed that Herod Agrippa, grandson of Herod the Great (who ruled at the birth of Yeshua) wished to increase his popularity with the Jews and thus stabilise his political position. Yaakov was the obvious choice probably because as ‘son of thunder’, he was a fiery, effective and prominent leader. His zeal marked him for an early arrest and his aggressiveness may have made him a target.

4.5 His transformation inferred

Yaakov’s perception on the earlier issues such as destroying the Shomronim and occupying the position of importance has certainly changed. We have seen the former in 4.2 and the latter we read of his willingness to drink of the Master’s cup as being the first apostle to die for the Master. The zeal to preach the Word must be motivated by Elohim’s love for people coupled with much sensitivity and care.


1. What lessons have you learnt from today’s discussion? How can you put them into practice?

2. Examine the ministry you are involved in. Are you filled with much zeal for the Lord’s work? Is your zeal also coupled with much compassion and love for His people?

LIFE APPLICATIONS: A negative quality in your character can be made positive for His use. Are you willing?

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