ISV: “From: James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus, the Messiah. To: The twelve tribes in the Dispersion. Greetings.”
I didn’t get very far in James before my thoughts spread out far enough to stop and think them through.
James is the half-brother of Jesus, which affects the meaning of “servant of”. His understanding is different than mine – and our understanding of things is always colored by our experiences; I think it’s a good aspect of our post modern times that it’s easy to realize that our understanding of an absolute truth still is relative/relational.
What puzzled me more was his addressing the 12 tribes in the dispersion. I read a post about the book of Kings and Chronicles yesterday, which mentions the exile of the tribes.
Some mention that this was a term the early church used for Christians scattered all over the world. I would be careful with that because if we take it out of its context too much, you’ll might end up with replacement theology. Also, the first Christians were all Jewish so I’m not sure that explanation adds much.
Referring to the persecution and subsequent scattering of Christians (Acts 8.1) doesn’t really fit imo, as that verse mentions Judea and Samaria.
Peter uses the same title in his 1st letter (and not his 2nd) – and it makes me wonder how much of an (honorary) title it is. There’s some further reading here for example, where the author very much hints in that direction.
Matthew Henry mentions amongst others “The gathering day is reserved for the end of time”, which is a good thought with practical implications. I find James’ addressing the 12 tribes uplifting. There can be purpose in that what is difficult: when a situation is gloomy, try to find the positive in it – if there isn’t any, there can be if we want to, and if we make it so.
God promised to be with me; He didn’t say much about the situations I’ve been and will be in, but He’ll be with me and that is what matters.