Christianity Knowledge Base

Jude was the brother of both James the Just and Jesus Christ. He wrote the Epistle of Jude.

Saint Jude, Brother of the Lord[]

Saint Jude, a faithful disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, was born in the first century AD in Galilee, Palestine. [1]

Family Background[]

From our reading of the various passages in the New Testament we find several references to Saint Jude as being the brother of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Many Christians have therefore concluded that Saint Jude was the son of Saint Joseph the Bethrothed and the step-son of the Virgin Mary, mother of he Lord Jesus Christ. He was therefore also brother of Saint James the Just, brother and disciple of Jesus.

Biblical sources which refer to Saint Jude as the brother of the Lord are as follows:

  • Matthew 13:55-57: “55Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56Aren't all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?" 57And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor." [3]
  • Mark 6:3: "Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! 3Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. [4]

Conflict Over Identity[]

Many Bible readers and others have interpreted Saint Jude’s family origin and affiliation in various ways. Some have concluded that he was the same Thaddeus mentioned in the gospels as one of the original 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ,[2] or that he and Jude the Apostle, son of James the Less, were one and the same.[3]

Readers might want to use caution before attempting to identify Jude mentioned in Matthew 13:55-57 and in Mark 6:3 as the son of James [the Less], for this would not only make him one of the original 12 Apostles but would also makes James instead of Joseph, hit father. The Judas mentioned in Luke 6:16 is the actual son of James (the Less). [The verse in Luke 16:16 reads, “Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”] However, his father James [Luke 6:16] is called elsewhere, the Son of Alphaeus, whose name, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia is the same as “Clopas”. ("Clopas," according to the Encyclopedia, is thought by many to be the Greek transliteration of the Aramaic name “Alphaeus.”}[5]). There is no mention of Joseph.

Another source writes, “The Apostle James (son of Alphaeus/Clopas who is also called "Less" or "Younger," was a brother of the Apostle Matthew and the son of Mary. Which "Mary" is not altogether certain, though she seems to be the wife of one Cleopas.” [6]. The Judas mentioned in Luke in 6:16 is really the son of James, son of Clopas, son of Mary, possible wife of Clopas and sister of the Virgin Mary--noteworthy details that should also be taken into consideration.

Another source writes, “Alphaeus, the father of James the Less, the apostle and writer of the epistle James (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13), and the husband of Mary (John 19:25)....” Clearly, this passage is not referring to the Virgin Mary, wife of Joseph.[7]

The passage at Luke 6:12-16 reads, 12”One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.” [8]Knowing that James the Less is the son of Alphaeus/Clopas, makes it easier to understand how the Judas mentioned as his son in Luke 6:16 cannot be same Jude [Judas] mentioned in the above verses from Matthew and Mark.

Saint Jude’s Discipleship and Missionary Activity[]

Saint Jude was present when the Holy Spirit descended upon Christ’s disciples at Pentecost, having previously been in prayer with the Twelve, the Virgin Mary and the faithful women, and the other disciples in the upper room, following the Lord’s return to heaven [See Ascension]. [4]

Saint Jude was a most devoted follower and preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ, along with the other disciples. It has been recorded that Saint Jude did missionary work in Judea, Samaria, Idumaea, Syria, Mesopotamia and Libya.One source writes that he finally went to the city of Edessa where he finished the work that was not completed by his predecessor, St Thaddeus, Apostle of the Seventy. There is a tradition that St Jude went to Persia, where he wrote his Epistle in Greek.”[9]

Saint Jude’s Epistle

Saint Jude's Epistle speaks about the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ, the good and bad angels (He cites the rebellious angels and men punished by God (verses 6 support this.), and the Last Judgment. The Apostle urges believers to guard themselves against fleshly impurity, to be diligent in prayer, faith and love, to convert the lost to the path of salvation, and to guard themselves from the teachings of heretics. He also says that it is not enough just to be converted to Christianity, but faith must be demonstrated by good works. [10]

His Martyrdom[]

According to the Armenian tradition, Saint Jude suffered martyrdom about 65 AD in Beirut, Lebanon together with the Apostle Simon the Zealot, with whom he is usually connected. Their acts and martyrdom are recorded in an Acts of Simon and Jude that was among the collection of passions and legends traditionally associated with the legendary Abdias, Bishop of Babylon, and are said to have been translated into Latin by his disciple Tropaeus Africanus. This tradition maintains that some time after his death, Saint Jude's body was brought from Beirut, Lebanon to Rome and placed in a crypt in St. Peter's Basilica which is visited by many devotees. Another tradition also believes that the remains of Saint Jude were preserved in an Armenian monastery on an island in the northern part of Issyk-Kul Lake [in Kyrgyzstan] at least until mid-15th century.

The Apostle Saint Jude is considered by others to have been martyred in Persia in the first century AD, near Mt. Ararat in Armenia in the year 80, being “crucified and pierced by arrows” [11].

His Veneration[]

Saint Jude’s feast day is October 28th in Western Christianity and June 19th in Eastern Christianity. His major shrines are found in Rome [Saint Peter's], Rheims, Toulouse, and France.

Saint Jude's attribute is a club. He is also often shown in icons with a flame around his head. This represents his presence at Pentecost, when he received the Holy Spirit with the other apostles of the Lord Jesus. In some instances he may be shown with a scroll or a book representing the Epistle of Jude, or holding a carpenter's rule.

Although Saint Gregory the Illuminator is credited as the "Apostle to the Armenians", when he baptized King Tiridates III of Armenia in 301, converting the Armenians, the Apostles Jude and Bartholomew are traditionally believed to have been the first to bring Christianity to Armenia, and are therefore venerated as the patron saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Linked to this tradition is the Saint Thaddeus Monastery (now in Northern Iran) and Saint Bartholomew Monastery (now in southeastern Turkey) which were both constructed in what was then Armenia. [12][5]

Prayers to St. Jude[]

Novena prayers to Saint Jude were found to have been of enormous help to people in dealing with the pressures caused by the Great Depression, World War II, and the changing workplace and family life, and especially to newly arrived immigrants from Europe.

A Common Roman Catholic Prayer to Saint Jude:

"Most holy Apostle, Saint Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honors and invokes you universally, as the patron of hopeless cases, of things almost despaired of. Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone. Make use I implore you, of that particular privilege given to you, to bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly (here make your request) and that I may praise God with you and all the elect forever. I promise, O blessed Saint Jude, to be mindful of this great favor, to always honor you as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you. Amen. [13]

Notes & References

  1. Also See “Apostle Jude” [1]
  2. This source writes, “Jude was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He is generally identified with Thaddeus, and is also variously called Jude of James, Jude Thaddaeus, Judas Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus”.
  3. "The Armenian Apostolic Church honors Thaddeus [meaning “Jude” in this case] along with Saint Bartholomew as its patron saints." [2]
  4. Acts 1:12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city. 13When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
  5. The Order of Preachers (the Dominicans) began working in present day Armenia soon after their founding in 1216. There was a substantial devotion to Saint Jude in this area at that time, by both Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians. This lasted until persecution drove Christians from the area in the 1700s. Devotion to Saint Jude began again in earnest in the 1800s, starting in Italy and Spain, spreading to South America, and finally to the U.S. (starting in the area around Chicago) owing to the influence of the Claretians and the Dominicans in the 1920s.