James the son of Zebedee was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. He was most likely martyred in 44 AD around the time of Passover in Jerusalem by sword. James is described as the first disciple to join Jesus and was most likely the first of the disciples to become a martyr for the faith, just over a decade after the crucifixion of Jesus. So let’s get into the evidence for the martyrdom of James, son of Zebedee.
The book of Acts, which was written in the first century, most likely in the mid 60s, talks about the martyrdom of James, son of Zebedee in Chapter 12, verses 1-2 saying:
Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword.Acts 12:1-2
The Herod mentioned in this passage was Herod Agrippa the First, who was the son of Herod the Great. He was known as a persecutor of church. He reigned from 41 AD to his death in 44 AD. So, James son of Zebedee was a martyr by that time if the account in Acts is accurate.
Of course, you could allege that this passage is forged, but based on the historical consistency of the Book of Acts with other events it seems very unlikely to be a made-up event.
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