“James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings”
The first verse of James contains the conventional salutation or greeting.
James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
James does not call himself “the Lord’s half-brother” or the leader of the church in Jerusalem but the “bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” He viewed himself as a slave to his half-brother! Mary had six children.
James gives full credit to the deity of Christ. He puts the Lord Jesus Christ on the par with God. We should translate the word “and” in the phrase “and of the Lord Jesus Christ” as “even.” Thus the phrase should read, “a bondservant of God even of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
James means “Jacob.” He was a half-brother of Jesus (Matthew 1:25; 12:46-47; Luke 8:19-21; John 2:12; Galatians 1:19). Jesus’ other half-brothers were Joseph, Simon and Judas. Mark says that Jesus had some half-sisters (Mark 3:31-35). His brothers did not initially believe on Him but thought He was crazy (Mark 3:21).
“Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. His brothers therefore said to Him, ‘Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.’ For even His brothers did not believe in Him” (John 7:2-5).
The resurrection changed James’ view of Jesus (Acts 1:13,14; 1 Corinthians 15:7). After the resurrection, Jesus personally appeared to James. After that James believed on Him and eventually became the key leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 12:17; 15:1f; 21:17–18; Galatians 2:9-12). According to Josephus, James was martyred about A.D. 62.
To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad:
The words “scattered abroad” in the Greek is the word “dispersion.” This word initially referred to Jews scattered among Gentile nations, the Diaspora (John 7:35). This dispersion began in the sixth century B.C. when the Jews were exiled to Babylon. In this case, “scattered” means Christian Jews dispersed throughout the Roman Empire. The 12 tribes were Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin.
The word “greetings” means be glad, rejoice and was a common greeting by everyone of that day.
God does not favor us on the basis of privilege but on the basis of grace.
Christian servitude to Jesus the Lord is not by coercion but by choice. As James did not claim fame on the back of his brother the Lord Jesus, so Christians should not care about fame but about service to Jesus.
There is no advantage in physical birth in knowing Jesus personally. James was the Lord’s half- brother but rejected Him as Savior until the resurrection. Although he was a member of the royal family of the Messiah, he remained an unbeliever until the resurrection. No assets such as physical birth gain any approbation with God. Natural ability does not cut any ice with God. God uses people with and without talent.
God always uses people because of His grace and God’s grace always excludes human assets or merit.