The writer of the epistle speaks of himself as “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ”. It is probably right to assume that this is the James who took a leading place among the Jewish believers at Jerusalem (Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21:18; Galatians 2: 12). He would thus be specially fitted to address an epistle to the twelve tribes of the dispersion. To such he sends greeting.
To understand the epistle it is necessary to remember the position of Jewish believers in Judea and Jerusalem as brought before us in the Acts of the Apostles. It is evident that at that time there were great numbers of believers who had not definitely separated from the Jewish system. We read of believers “continuing daily with one accord in the temple”. Later we hear of “many thousands of Jews” which believed and were “all zealous of the law” and who, apparently, had not even given up the sacrifices and offerings and Jewish customs (Acts 2:46; 3:1; 6:7; 15:5; 21:20).