The Glossary of Terms

Alphaeus, Cleopas, & Clopas (Cleophas)


Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Volume 1

George Arthus Buttrick, Editor (Nashiville, Abingdon Press, 1962)

Alphaeus (Greek, Alphaios) A purely Greek name, one of many such names used commonly by first-century Jews in Palestine. Westcott and Hort, accepting the supposition that it is a transliteratioin of the Aramaic, give this name a rough breathing. This is, owever only an assumption, and not a necessary one. The name does not occur in the OT,, but it does occur five times in the NT. These divide readily into references to ttwo separate individuals, both of whom are mentioned only indirectly.

Cleopas [Kleopas, probably a shortened form of Kleopatros]. One of the two disciples who were confronted by the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:18). The other is not named. Tradition gives the name Simon to the companion and includes both amonth the Seventy of Luk 10:1-24. Cleopas is sometimes identified with Clopas. The connection is not impossible, but in the absence of clear supporting evidence it must remain uncertain.

Clopas [Klopas] (John 19:25); KJV Cleophas. The husband (or son or father) of one of the women who stood at the foot of the cross. No certain reference to hm appears elsewhere in the NT, though he is sometimes identified with Cleopas and/or Alphaeus. there is no linguistic relationship between "Cleopas," a genuine Greek name, and "Clopas," which seems to be of Semitic origin. Grammarians recognize that the names may commonly have been interchanged, but this is hardly sufficient grounds for assuming personal identity. There is no indication that the Clopas named in John 19:25 was also known as Cleopas or that the names have been interchanged in the transmission of the text. The connection with Alphaeus can be established only if Mary the wife of Clopas is the same person as Mary the mother of James and Joses (Mark 15:40 = Matt. 27:56; cf. Luke 23:49; 24:10), and if the James mentioned here is the same as James son of Alphaeus (Mark 3:18 = Math. 10:3 = Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13). Mary the wife of Clopas may thus be recognized as the wife of Alphaeus, and it is possible to suppose that Alphaeus and Clopas are the same person. Since other alternatives are present in each of the preliminary suppositions, as well as in the final identification, the question must remain undecided. "Clopas" can hardly be explain as a variant transliteration of the Aramaic or Hebrew form from which "Alphaeus" is derived.

Efforts to connect Clopas, and therefore Alphaeus and his sons, with the family of Jesus, are based on the inference that only three women are named in John 19:25 (cf. Mark 15:40 = Matt. 27:56). Mary the wife of Clopas must then be identified as the sister of Jesus' mother. The text permits such an identification, but it certainly does not require it. In this connection it is interesting to note that Hegessipus mentions a brother of Joseph whose name was Clopas (Euseb. Hist. III.11; 32:1-4, 6; IV.11.4).

Dictionary of the Bible, Second Edition

Edited by James Hastings, revised by Frederick C. Grant & H.H. Rowley (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1963)


Cleopas. One of the disciples at Emmaus, Lk 24:18; the name is probably the same as Clopas (jn 19:25), and Alphaeus (Mk 3:18 and parallels) may be used as a Greek equivalent; but any identification of the characters is merely conjectural.

Clopas (AV Cleophas) is named only in Jn 19:25. See Alphaeus...

Harper’s Bible Dictionary

edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)

You are strongly recommended to add to your library the excellent revised edition of Harper's Bible Dictionary titled, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition [book review], edited by Paul J. Achtemeier, with the Society of Biblical Literature (NY: Harper Collins, 1996). It is currently the best one-volume Bible dictionary in English, and it is available at Border's Books, Christian Science Reading Rooms,, or


Cleopas, a disciple who with an unnamed companion encountered the resurrected Jesus as they traveled to Emmaus (Luke 24:18-35).

Clopas; kjv: ‘Cleophas’), husband of one of the Marys present at Jesus’ crucifixion (John 19:25).

Oxford Dictionary of the Bible

by W.R.F. Browning (NY: Oxford University Press, 1996)

Alphaeus. In Mat 10:3 mentioned as the father of James, after 'James the son of Zebedee.' In Mark 2:14 he is cited as the father of Levi (usually identified as Matthew), and it is suggested that the mother of this James was Mary (Mark 15:40), whose husband was Clopas (John 19:25), which would mean that Clopas and Alphaeus are the same person, but this string of hazardous identifications beloved by the Fathers (e.g., Chrysostom) is dismissed by modern scholarship.

Cleopas. One of two disciples who met the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:18). Possibly to be identified with Clopas of John 19:25, since the fourth gospel has various contacts with the Lucan tradition.

Clopas - no dictionary entry

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