I don't know about you, but I'm excited about this! Just as a note, I will be changing some of what I originally wrote in my notebook for different reasons; the main reason being that I now understand it better and can further expand on it.
Let's begin, shall we?
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
The first thing that stands out to me is that James is bold in his faith, for he proclaims it. He doesn't hide that he is a believer. He doesn't even just hint at it - he proclaims it. He humbly proclaims himself a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Proclaiming such a thing in his day, where he was, was probably a dangerous thing. Many were out to kill the Christians - Jews and Romans (for different reasons). Therefore, by proclaiming such a thing, and knowing that if someone who hated Christians got a hold of it and somehow found him he might very well be killed, we can see that James loved Christ more than life. We can see that he wasn't ashamed of his Lord. This reminds me of Romans 1:16, in which Paul writes that he is not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is power of God for the salvation of all who believe. Paul wasn't ashamed. And neither was James.
His mission, as the servant of God was to preach. Specifically, it sounds like James' sole job was to teach and encourage "the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad". These are the twelve tribes of Israel - but more specifically, they are the true Jewish believers. But, why were they scattered? Those Jews who had become Christians were probably resented by their own people who were against Jesus. Not only were they resented, but probably persecuted and killed for their new found faith. Therefore, to remain alive, they had to scatter. They had to hide.
In those days, when the believers received letters from the apostles, they were passed from family to family and group of believers to group of believers so that all could be edified and encouraged. They couldn't simply have one person read it out-loud to everyone all at once - it was too dangerous a time to do that.
So ends James' introduction to his letter to the Jewish believers who were scattered abroad.
Don't be ashamed of your Lord - have courage, have faith, love HIM more.
In Christ alone,