Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. James 1:17-18
In James 1:17, James refers to God as “the Father of lights”. I never really understood why he used this unusual name for God here. But thanks to some insights from a few commentaries, it makes a bit more sense to me now.
“Father of lights” refers us back to creation, when God said “let there be light” (Gen 1:3) on the first day. Then on the fourth day God said “let there be lights” (Gen 1:14) such as the sun, moon and stars.
Instead of calling God “Creator”, which makes us think of the awesome power required to create a vast universe, James uses the name “Father of Lights” to point us to the perfection of God’s creation. This name underscores that everything God makes, everything he does, and everything he gives us is “good and perfect”.
Which I think helps make sense of another difficult phrase in verse 18, which speaks of us as the “firstfruits of his creatures”. James is picturing believers as the first parts of the new creation. And just as the first creation was good and perfect, so his new creation also is good and perfect. This is of course one of the great paradoxes of the Christian life – as a human being I am flawed and fallen, but as a new creation, I am “good and perfect”.