James and John

man trekking on gray rocks in body of water at daytime

Studying the Bible is like walking through a stoney field where underneath each stone is a treasure. It’s challenging to read straight through the Bible because it’s not linear; rather, it is a matrix (no, not that Matrix). Everything connects to everything. 


When we make a discovery, then the Holy Spirit who lives in us begins revealing our discovery’s connections to multiple places in the Bible. Yes, this just happened to me, so I had to stop and write it down while it is still fresh in my spirit. 

I was reading Acts 11:1-2:

About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword,

If you recall, James was in the inner circle of the apostles. There were twelve apostles, but within those, Jesus often called out Peter, James, and John, such as for Christ’s transfiguration (Matthew 17:1).

Christ’s Inner Circle

James was the first of Jesus’ apostles to be martyred. And it’s noteworthy that James was executed using the same devious process used against Jesus. 

Since a sword executed James, we know that this was a civil (Roman) execution; a Jewish execution would have been by stoning, as is seen in the execution of Stephen (Acts 7:58). The Jews were using the template established for Christ’s crucifixion, having their enemies killed by Rome’s hands.

So James was the first apostle martyred. Now consider the brother of James, John. Jesus had called the brothers James and John the sons of thunder, for they were far from timid. 

Jesus is the Alpha and Omega

Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (Rev. 22). One of the meanings of Jesus being the “Alpha and Omega” is that He was at the beginning of all things and will be at the conclusion. 

James was the first of Christ’s apostles to die and Jame’s blood-brother, John, was the last based on Revelation 1:9 and Church history. This combination seems symbolic of the Alpha and Omega. The same “person,” James and John being of the same blood, symbolized the Alpha and Omega. 

What value do the saints of God gain from this physical prophecy of Jesus being the Alpha and Omega? I see at least two lessons. First, all Scripture is connected to all other Scripture. 

The Bible is not Merely a Timeline

The Word of God is not merely a timeline from Genesis to Revelation. Instead, the Bible is the living Word of God; each piece, no matter how small, connects to all of the Word of God. God’s Word is not about people but about Jesus and His redeeming and restoring; thankfully, people are part of Christ’s mission. Within this context, God’s Word is cohesive, coherent, compelling, and comprehensive. 

What is Death

Secondly, through James and John, we learn that the death of His followers is trivial. God’s Word is about Jesus. The martyrdom of James, one Christ’s inner circle of apostles, receives just a verse or two. The deaths of the vast majority of His closest followers receive no commentary in God’s Word. Is this because Jesus doesn’t care? No! If we are close to Jesus, we know Him, and He knows us. So, then, what is death other than Jesus drawing us closer to Himself. I’d say that’s Good News.

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