James, a servant of God
That is, of God the Father; not by creation only, as every man is; nor merely by calling grace, as is every regenerate person; but by office, as a preacher of the Gospel, being one that served God in the Gospel of his Son, and was an apostle of Christ; nor is this any sufficient objection to his being one, since others of the apostles so style themselves:
and of the Lord Jesus Christ;
the Ethiopic version reads this in connection with the former clause, without the copulative "and", "James, the servant of God, our Lord Jesus Christ": and so some consider the copulative as explanative of who is meant by God, even the Lord Jesus Christ: but it seems best to understand them as distinct; and that this apostle was not only the servant of God the Father, but of his Son Jesus Christ, and that in the same sense, referring to his office as an apostle of Christ, and minister of the word:
to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad;
by whom are meant believing Jews, who were of the several tribes of Israel, and which were in number "twelve", according to the number and names of the twelve patriarchs, the sons of Jacob; and these were not the Christian Jews, who were scattered abroad upon the persecution raised at the death of Stephen, ( Acts 8:1 Acts 8:4 ) ( 11:19 ) but they were the posterity of those who had been dispersed in former captivities, by the Assyrians and others, and who remained in the several countries whither they were carried, and never returned. The Jews say F6, that the ten tribes will never return, and that they will have no part nor portion in the world to come; but these the Gospel met with in their dispersion, and by it they were effectually called and converted, and are the same that Peter writes to, ( 1 Peter 1:1 1 Peter 1:2 ) ( 2 Peter 1:1 ) ( 3:1 ) . And thus we read of an hundred and forty and four thousand sealed of all the tribes of Israel, ( Revelation 7:4 ) and to these the apostle here sends greeting; that is, his Christian salutation, wishing them all happiness and prosperity, in soul and body, for time and eternity; and it includes all that grace, mercy, and peace, mentioned in the usual forms of salutation by the other apostles. The same form is used in ( Acts 15:23 ) and since it was James that gave the advice there, which the rest of the apostles and elders came into, it is highly probable that the epistles sent to the Gentiles were dictated by him; and the likeness of the form of salutation may confirm his being the writer of this epistle.
F6 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 110. 2.