Church Honours Saints Philip and James, The Apostles

Very little is known of the two apostles, Philip and James.

They scarcely figure in the Gospels and the little we know of them comes from church legend.

Philip was a native of Bethsaida on the shores of Lake Gennesareth in Galilee, and apparently a friend of Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, as well as Nathanael, whom he introduces to Jesus.

He must have been an approachable person, for shortly before Jesus’s passion, he also introduces a group of Greeks to him. Like most of the other disciples he was slow to understand Jesus’s mission, and earned the Master’s reprimand: “Have I been so long with you, Philip, and still you do not know me?”

According to legend Philip preached the Gospel in the Roman provinces of Asia, and died witnessing to the Lord.

James is sometimes called “the lesser” to distinguish him from his more famous namesake, James, the son of Zebedee and brother of John, apostle and evangelist, who was martyred by King Herod. Tradition has it that this James was a relative of our Lord. So James, like Jesus, was a Galilean, and probably from Nazareth as well.

James was a leader in the Judaeo-Christian community in Palestine, known popularly as ‘a brother of the Lord’. He is best remembered for his epistle, which reflects the teachings of the early communities. The author was familiar with the Old Testament, and writes in elegant Greek, even though his turn of phrase is distinctly Hebraic.

Like most of the apostles, James probably died a martyr’s death.

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