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Philip, Philip, James, James and James
Posted By Eric Sammons On May 3, 2010 @ 9:20 am In Saints | Comments Disabled
No New Testament figures cause more confusion than today’s two saints, the apostles Philip and James. There are two prominent men named Philip and possibly three named James in the early Church and they have been confused with each other for almost 2,000 years. It can be helpful to try to sort them all out.
Philip the apostle was from Bethsaida (John 1:44) and was one of Christ’s first apostles. He was the one who brought Nathanial to Jesus (John 1:45), who was asked by Jesus how they could feed the multitude (John 6:5), who the Greeks came to inquire about Christ (John 12:21), and who asked Christ to show them the Father (John 14:8). After Christ’s ascension, however, there is very little we know about his life, other than that he was a martyr. His feast day is today, May 3rd.
But there is another Philip in the New Testament: Philip the deacon. He was one of the seven chosen to help in the daily distribution of the food (Acts 6:5). Like his fellow deacon Stephen, however, he also had a powerful preaching ministry. After Stephen’s martyrdom, he went to Samaria and preached the Gospel (Acts 8:4-8), and he also was responsible for the baptism of Simon Magus (Acts 8:9-13) and the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40). Many people confuse this Philip with the apostle but they are different men. Philip the deacon’s feast day is June 6th.
The situation gets even more confusing with James. In fact, there is no agreement whether there are two or three men named James who were leaders in the early Church.
The first James is James the Greater, the brother of John the Apostle. Fortunately, there is no confusion about his identity. He was a member of the “inner circle” of apostles along with Peter and John, and he was the first apostle to be martyred (Acts 12:2). His feast day is July 25th.
James the Less, who is celebrated today along with Philip the apostle, is called the “son of Alphaeus,” and was one of the original 12 apostles. There is also James the Just, the “brother of the Lord” who was the well-respected bishop of Jerusalem and one of the “pillars” of the early Church along with Peter and John (Galatians 2:9). This James is also considered the author of the epistle which bears his name.
But the question that has been debated for centuries is: are these two men named James – the son of Alphaeus and the “brother of the Lord” – the same person? For centuries many people have believed so, but today most scholars would say that they are different men. I tend to go against the conventional Catholic theory that they are the same man and believe that they are actually two different people. But of course in the end it does not matter. We know that two men named James were made apostles, and that a man named James who was related to Christ was a major leader in the early Church. Whether this describes two or three men does not change the witness of their lives for us today.
Sts. Philip and James (all of them), pray for us!
Article printed from Divine Life – A Blog by Eric Sammons: http://ericsammons.com/blog
URL to article: http://ericsammons.com/blog/2010/05/03/philip-philip-james-james-and-james/
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