There were two men named Alphaeus. One of them was the father of the apostle James and the other the father of Matthew (Levi). Though both Matthew and James are described as being the "son of Alphaeus," there is no Biblical account of the two being called brothers, even in the same context where John and James or Peter and Andrew are described as being brothers.
Alphaeus is traditionally identified with Clopas, based on the identification from parallel Gospel accounts of Mary, the mother of James the third woman with Mary Magdalene and Salome wife of Zebedee beside the cross in Matthew with Mary, the wife of Clopas, the third woman in John's account.
According to the surviving fragments of the work Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord of the Apostolic Father Papias of Hierapolis, who lived c. 70–163 AD, Cleophas and Alphaeus are the same person: "Mary the wife of Cleophas or Alphaeus, who was the mother of James the bishop and apostle, and of Simon and Thaddeus, and of one Joseph" For the Anglican theologian J.B. Lightfoot this fragment quoted above would be spurious.
The Catholic Encyclopedia suggests that etymologically, the names Clopas and Alphaeus are different, but that they could still be the same person. Other sources propose that Alphaeus, Clophas and Cleophas are variant attempts to render the Aramaic H in Aramaic Hilfai into Greek as aspirated, or K.
- Mark 2:14
- Mark 3:18
- Matthew 10:3
- of Hierapolis, Papias. Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord. Fragment X. earlychristianwritings.com. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
- "The Brethren of the Lord by J.B. Lightfoot". Archived from the original on 2018-06-18. Retrieved 2016-12-10.
- "Papias". textexcavation.com. Archived from the original on 2015-11-16.
- Online, Catholic. "St. Alphaeus - Saints & Angels - Catholic Online". Catholic Online. Retrieved 2016-10-10.