The Gift and the Giver

Bible Book: James  1 : 17
Subject: Blessings from God; God, The Give; Gifts from God
Series: James - Owen

Introduction: As we have been studying this first chapter of the epistle of James, we have looked at…

I. The Servant

James 1:1

II. The Struggles

James 1:2-16

A. The Lesson Of Waiting – Patience

B. The Lesson Of Wisdom

C. The Lesson Of Wavering

D. The Lesson Of Withering – Humility

E. The Lesson Of Wandering – Temptation

Tonight, we begin a new section of this first chapter. And we are dealing now with…

III. The Scriptures (or The Word)

James 1:17-25

In this section, we find…

A. The Giver Of The Word vs. 17

B. The Generating Of The Word vs. 18

C. The Governing Of The Word vs. 19-22

D. The Glass Of The Word vs. 23-25

We’re looking this evening at verse 17 where James says…

(James 1:17) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

How often have you heard someone pray before the offering and ask God to bless both “the gift and the giver”? Those are the two points of emphasis in James 1:17 … “The Gift” and “The Giver.” We also see in this verse what I would like to call “The Geography” of the gifts. As we look at this great verse tonight, I want us to…

I. Notice The Grand Glimpse Of The Gifts

(James 1:17) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

A. James Mentions The Beneficial Gifts

For so the word “good” indicates.

good – Greek 18. agathos, ag-ath-os'; a primary word meaning “good” (in any sense, often as noun):--benefit, good (-s, things), well.

The Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says that the word “good” has the idea of “excelling in any respect, distinguished; useful, salutary (beneficial), advantageous; acceptable to God” among other things.

Albert Barnes said…

The difference between good and perfect here, it is not easy to mark accurately. It may be that the former means that which is benevolent in its character and tendency; the latter that which is entire, where there is nothing even apparently wanting to complete it; where it can be regarded as good as a whole and in all its parts. The general sense is that God is the author of all good. Everything that is good on the earth we are to trace to him; evil has another origin.

B. James Mentions The Broad Gifts

perfect gift

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says that “perfect” indicates that which is “‎brought to its end, finished; lacking nothing necessary to completeness; perfect.”

The Pulpit Commentary says of the distinction between the “good gift” and the “perfect gift”…

They are expressly distinguished by Philo, who says that the latter (the “perfect gift”) involves the idea of magnitude and fullness, which is wanting to the former.

James Vaughan said…

A gift is something that expresses the mind and betokens the love of the giver, and at the same time brings happiness to the receiver. What, then, is “a good gift”? That which fulfils these two requisitions. And what is “a perfect gift”? That which entirely fulfils these two ends. … “A perfect gift” is one which exactly fits the minds and the taste of the receiver; expresses the whole heart of the giver, and can never be taken away.

(From The Biblical Illustrator)

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says that the word “gift” here refers to…

The act of giving; (and the “good gift” is) the gift in its initiatory stage; (and the “perfect gift” is ) the thing given, the boon (or windfall), when perfected. As the “good gift” contrasts with “sin” in its initiatory stage (James 1:15), so the ‘perfect boon’ contrasts with “sin when it is finished,” bringing forth death.

We might associate the “perfect gift” with this statement…

(2 Peter 1:3) According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

II. Notice The Glorious Geography Of The Gifts

(James 1:17) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

A. There Is A Starting Point In The Giving

from above

from above – Greek 509. anothen, an'-o-then; from G507; from above; by anal. from the first; by impl. anew:--from above, again, from the beginning (very first), the top.

A. T. Robertson explained…

From above (‎anoothen). That is, from heaven. Compare John 3:31; 19:11.

Hugh Macmillan said…

It is not from the lowest but from the highest points that the best things in the world always come. We get from the sky, and not from the earth, all those gracious influences without which our world would be only a gigantic lifeless cinder roiling through space. … It is not the things that come to you from the earth that will fill the void of your nature, but the things that come to you from heaven. You cannot call any gift that comes to you from below a good gift, for it is mixed with the evil of the earth, like the pure snow when it is soiled by the mud of the ground. (From The Biblical Illustrator)

Cf. (James 3:15) This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

B. There Is A Sharing Point In The Giving

cometh down

The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says of this phrase “cometh down” (NT:2597 – katabaino)…

It is often used of leaving Jerusalem or Palestine or other places. Usually the place which one leaves or to which one goes is mentioned.

Cf. (Luke 10:30-31) And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. {31} And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

Notice some other references where this word is used…

(Matthew 3:16) And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

(John 3:13) And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

(John 5:4) For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

(John 6:33) For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

(John 6:38) For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

(John 6:50-51) This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. {51} I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

(Luke 22:44) And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

When I order something, it arrives at my place of residence. God arranges for His gifts to “come down” to His designated point of delivery and destination.

III. Notice The Giving God Of The Gifts

(James 1:17) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

A. God Is Described In Terms Of Illumination

the Father of lights

A. T. Robertson said…

From the Father of lights‎ (means) “Of the lights” (the heavenly bodies). For this use of ‎pateer ‎(“Father”) see Job 38:28 (Father of rain); 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:17. God is the Author of light and lights.

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says that the term “Father” can be used…

metaphorically; as the originator and transmitter of anything; the author of a family or society of persons animated by the same spirit as himself; one who has infused his own spirit into others, who actuates and governs their minds; (of the father) ‎is used of one who shows himself as like another in spirit and purpose as though he had inherited his nature from him; one who stands in a father’s place, and looks after another in paternal way.

Albert Barnes said…

[And cometh down from the Father of lights] From God, the source and fountain of all light. Light, in the Scriptures, is the emblem of knowledge, purity, happiness; and God is often represented as light. … There is, doubtless, an allusion here to the heavenly bodies, among which the sun is the most brilliant. It appears to us to be the great original fountain of light, diffusing its radiance overall worlds. No cloud, no darkness seems to come from the sun, but it pours its rich effulgence on the farthest part of the universe. So it is with God. There is no darkness in him (1 John 1:5); and all the moral light and purity which there is in the universe is to be traced to him. The word Father here is used in a sense which is common in Hebrew as denoting that which is the source of anything, or that from which anything proceeds.

lights – Greek 5457. phos, foce; from an obsol. phao (to shine or make manifest, espec. by rays; comp. G5316, G5346); luminousness (in the widest application, nat. or artificial, abstr. or concr., lit. or fig.):--fire, light.

Perhaps too, it might indicate that He is the originator of physical light, and intellectual light, and spiritual light.

B. God Is Described In Terms Of Immutability (Unchangeableness)

with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning

(see Phillips, page 51)

A. T. Robertson said…

Variation ‎parallagee‎. An old word from ‎parallassoo‎, to make things alternate, found only here in the New Testament. In Aristeas in sense of alternate stones in pavements.

Barnes said…

[With whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning] The design here is clearly to contrast God with the sun in a certain respect. As the source of light, there is a strong resemblance. But in the sun there are certain changes. It does not shine on all parts of the earth at the same time, nor in the same manner all the year. It rises and sets; it crosses the line, and seems to go far to the south, and sends its rays obliquely on the earth; then it ascends to the north, recrosses the line, and sends its rays obliquely on southern regions. By its revolutions it produces the changes of the seasons, and makes a constant variety on the earth in the productions of different climes. In this respect God is not indeed like the sun. With him there is no variableness, not even the appearance of turning. He is always the same, at all seasons of the year, and in all ages; there is no change in his character, his mode of being, his purposes and plans. What he was millions of ages before the worlds were made, he is now; what he is now, he will be countless millions of ages hence.


(Malachi 3:6) For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

(Hebrews 13:8) Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Unchanging “A” Note

Author Lloyd C. Douglas used to tell how he loved to visit an old man who gave violin lessons because the teacher had a kind of homely wisdom that refreshed him. One morning Douglas walked in and said, “Well, what’s the good news today?” Putting down his violin, the teacher stepped over to a tuning fork suspended from a cord and struck it a smart blow. “There is the good news for today,” he said. “That, my friend, is the musical note A. It was A all day yesterday, will be A next week and for a thousand years.” A. Purnell Bailey