Now we come in 1 Corinthians 15 to Paul's report of a hostile witness to Jesus' resurrection. Some people say they do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead because he is only reported as appearing to his disciples and they wanted to believe in the resurrection, therefore their testimony is not fully credible. However, this is not completely accurate. Jesus also appeared to James.
The James whom Paul mentions was not one of Jesus' first disciples or apostles. Paul has already mentioned them. So this is obviously a different James. Commentators think Paul is talking about the half-brother of Jesus who did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah before his resurrection. James is mentioned in Matthew 13:55 and in John 7:2-5 we read:
Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing; for no one who wants to be widely known acts in secret. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” (For not even his brothers believed in him.)What must that encounter of James with the risen Jesus been like? James must have been filled with feelings of both amazement at what he was seeing and shame for not having believed that Jesus was the Messiah before. I wonder if James fell at the feet of Jesus, as Thomas did, and proclaimed, "My Lord and my God."
In Acts 1:14 we read about a prayer meeting the disciples had after Jesus' ascension into heaven. Acts says, "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers." Later, James became a leader in the Church at Jerusalem, as Acts 15:13 makes clear. And the letter we have in the New Testament under this name may well have been written by this James. It just goes to show that "hostile" witnesses can later go on to do great things for Christ.