Father Of Lights
Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
Studying the Bible can be fun. Yes, I am serious.
For example, in preparing a Sunday message I decided to use a reading from James.
One verse intrigued me. It reads:
“Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)
What intrigued me was the phrase, “Father of lights”. Why is the word “lights” plural and not singular? It seemed unusual. I looked through a dictionary and a few commentaries.
I discovered the phrase can refer to heavenly lights like stars.
Now I know that the Greek word for light is PHOS or PHOTON from where come English words like photos or photograph. (The New Testament was originally written in Greek). PHOTON is the word used in James 1:17.
I also know that the Greek word for star is ASTER. The word “star” comes directly from the Greek word.
It seems to me the word “star” always refers to stars in the sky. “Lights” does not necessarily refer to stars but can refer to any light giving object.
The Greeks knew there was a difference between planets and stars. The Greek word for planet is PLANETES. Again, the English word comes directly from the Greek word.
The literal meaning of the Greek word is “wanderer”. It is part of a word group that also means “deceiver”. A “deceiver” does not stay in the same place but wanders around.
Stars stay relatively in the same place in relation to each other. Planets move around in relation to each other.
I believe James is contrasting the stability and reliability of the “Father of lights” with the instability and unreliability of other entities.
Think about it. Because the “Father of Lights” stays in the same place, he is stable, reliable and can be trusted.
I think that is James’ point. God is reliable.
Now wasn’t that fun?
Peace Lutheran Church
Mill Valley, California