I am teaching through a book of the Bible at a time on Wednesday mornings to a group of saints and we began looking at the Letter of James this week. In preparation for my teaching I began studying James and come to find out this is not a letter from James at all, it is a letter from Jacob.
Somewhere along the line of translation the Greek word Ἰάκωβος has been moved from Jacob to James. Ἰάκωβος is the carryover from Hebrew, and it simply means, Jacob. So, the Jameses of the New Testament are really Jacobs. This is important as you read the letter of James, I mean Jacob.
The opening salutation of the letter reads, “Jacob, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.” Now that we have the name cleared up, we see that Jacob is writing to the twelve tribes that have been scattered from Jerusalem. This should draw our minds right back to Genesis and the patriarch Jacob and his twelve sons.
In this letter, the Christian Jews that have fled Jerusalem are receiving instructions on how to live in the wisdom of the Gospel in the world. They are receiving this instruction from Jacob (the Apostle), their father in the faith. This letter calls for maturity and wisdom gained through trials (much like Jacob in Genesis who even wrestled with God). Jacob is bringing kingly wisdom to the scattered church because they may not be in the Promised Land anymore, but that is the point, for Christ has promised to the church the whole earth (Matthew 28:18-20). Jacob is telling us how to live according to the royal Law under our King so that we might inherit the earth.