July 3, 2024
Ministry Voice

Exploring the Meaning of Alphaios in Greek



Parts of Speech: Noun Masculine

Alphaios Definition

NAS Word Usage – Total: 3

Alphaeus = “changing”

  1. The father of Levi the publican (Mk 2:
  2. The father of James the less, so called, one of the apostles


What is the significance of the name Alphaios in the New Testament?

In the New Testament, the name Alphaios holds significant meaning, especially within the context of the biblical narrative. The name Alphaios, or Alphaeus in some translations, appears multiple times in the Gospels, particularly in relation to two important figures.

One prominent mention of Alphaios is in the list of the twelve apostles chosen by Jesus. In the Gospel of Matthew (10:3), one of the apostles is identified as “Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus.” However, in the Gospel of Mark (3:18), the same apostle is referred to as “Thaddaeus Son of Alphaios.” This connection between Thaddaeus and Alphaios is a point of intrigue for biblical scholars, as it raises questions about the familial relationships among the early followers of Jesus.

Furthermore, the name Alphaios is also linked to another significant figure in the New Testament – James, the son of Alphaios. James, also known as James the Less to distinguish him from James, the brother of John, was one of the twelve apostles and played a crucial role in the early Christian community. His association with Alphaios not only underscores the close-knit nature of the early followers of Jesus but also highlights the familial ties that may have existed within the group of apostles.

When examining the meaning of the name Alphaios in Greek, it is essential to consider its original form. In Greek, the name Alphaios is transliterated as Alphaios (Ἀλφαῖος), derived from the Hebrew name Chalphai (חַלְפַּי). The exact meaning of the name Alphaios is not definitively known, but some scholars suggest that it could be related to words signifying “changing” or “exchange.”

How is Alphaios connected to the apostle James in the Bible?

In the Bible, the name Alphaios holds significance in connection to the apostle James, also known as James the Less. This connection is primarily found in the list of the twelve apostles mentioned in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In these lists, James is referred to as the son of Alphaios, distinguishing him from James, the son of Zebedee, who was also one of the twelve apostles.

The name Alphaios, in the Greek context of the Bible, is believed to be a variant of the name Cleopas. This belief is based on the writings of early Church fathers such as Eusebius of Caesarea and Jerome. According to tradition, Alphaios or Cleopas was a brother of Joseph, the husband of Mary, making James, the son of Alphaios, a cousin of Jesus.

Scholars have debated the exact relationships and identities within Jesus’ extended family, but it is widely accepted that there were close familial connections among the early followers of Jesus. The mention of Alphaios in relation to James serves to highlight the interconnectedness and familial ties among the apostles and Jesus’ closest followers.

Furthermore, the presence of Alphaios in the Gospel accounts underscores the importance of familial relationships in the early Christian community. It reflects the ethos of kinship and community that was central to the teachings of Jesus, emphasizing the idea of spiritual brotherhood and camaraderie among believers.

In what contexts does the name Alphaios appear in the Gospels?

In the Gospels, the name Alphaios appears multiple times in the New Testament, specifically in the contexts of familial relationships with certain biblical figures. One prominent mention of the name Alphaios is in the Gospel of Matthew and Mark, where it is used to refer to the father of the apostle James. In these passages, James is often identified as “James the son of Alphaios,” indicating that Alphaios was his father.

Another significant occurrence of the name Alphaios is in the Gospel of Mark, where it is associated with Levi, also known as Matthew, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. In this context, Alphaios is mentioned in relation to Levi, potentially indicating a familial connection or lineage.

Additionally, in the Gospel of John, the name Alphaios appears in reference to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary, the wife of Clopas (believed to be another form of Alphaios), is described as standing at the foot of the cross during the crucifixion of Jesus.


In conclusion, understanding the meaning of the Greek word Alphaios in the context of the Bible provides us with deeper insights into the historical and cultural significance of biblical texts. As we have explored, the name Alphaios, often associated with Saint James the Less, carries themes of strength and protection, shedding light on the character and role of this biblical figure. By delving into the origins and connotations of Greek words like Alphaios, we gain a richer understanding of the biblical narratives and the nuances of the ancient language in which they were written. This exploration highlights the importance of linguistic and historical context in biblical studies, enriching our appreciation of the timeless wisdom found in the Scriptures.

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