Verse 17: (John 3:27; 1 Cor. 4:7) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Mal. 3:6; Rom. 11:29) with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
[Every, etc., πᾶσα δόσις ἀγαθὴ καὶ πᾶν δώρημα τέλειον, etc.] The verse is in hexameter (Gataker). Evering donation (or, largess [Grotius], or, datum, thing given [Vulgate, Grotius], of which Cicero and Seneca make use in the place of the Greek δόσις [Grotius]: Elsewhere it is δόμα, as in Matthew 7:11; Luke 11:13 [Grotius]) good (truly good [Beza, Grotius], that it might be set over against those gifts of God that are shadowy and passing [Beza]; that is to say, which may make us good, Matthew 7:11 [Grotius]; or, best [Vulgate]: It read ἀρίστη/best, which I completely approve [Beza]) and every gift (δόσις and δώρημα are, either, 1. synonyms; or, 2. to be distinguished: [and that, either, 1.] so that the former is referred to nature, the latter to grace; for δώρημα is what is given graciously: To which also the epithet perfect pertains; for grace perfects nature: Therefore, he teaches that God is the author of all good in us, whether natural, or supernatural, whether it consists in habit, or in act, especially since previously he had spoken concerning sins, to which good actions corresponds: This is an excellent refutation of Pelagius, etc. [Estius]: Or, 2. the former is related to things transitory, the latter to things permanent; the former to things of this life, as in Genesis 45:21; Job 1:21; Philippians 4:15 [Gataker out of Andreas], the latter to things of the nxt life, as in Romans 5:16: See also Luke 11:13; 1 John 3:17: the former is related to that which is given in the journey, the latter to that which is given in the fatherland [Gataker]) perfect (that is, which perfects us [Grotius, similarly Piscator], or leads us to eternal life: Thus we have τελειοῦσθαι, to be made perfect, in Hebrews 2:10; 11:40 [Grotius]; whether it pertain to nature, or to grace, or to glory; perfect, I say, because I desire such for you, and I would wish it to be earnestly sought from God [Tirinus]: Or, whole [Beza]: Here it denotes spiritual gifts [Beza, similarly Menochius], not at all feigned, but firm and solid [Beza], by which we are prepared unto all virtue and perfection [Menochius]: Or rather, mature, so that not only the beginning, but also the increase, of grace might be attributed to God [Gataker]) is from above (Pagnine, Beza), or, from the heavenlies (Estius, Piscator), that is, from heaven (Estius, Piscator), as this word is explained in John 3:31 (Piscator); and heaven is taken metonymically for God, the inhabitant of heaven (Estius, similarly Piscator), as in Luke 15:21 (Piscator). See John 3:31; 19:11. Thus James 3:15, 17 (Grotius). God is praised as the giver of every good by Dionysius Halicarnassensis in his Roman Antiquities 1:123 (Cappel), and by Philo (Grotius) [with the very words set forth by Grotius]. This is the other reason derived from the contrary effects (Gomar). God, says he, is the author of every good, to whom it is proper and natural to bestow benefits: it is, therefore, absurd for Him to be supposed to be the author of evils (Calvin). It is so unsuitable that God should tempt anyone, that all celestial goods proceed from Him (Menochius).
Every good gift; Greek, giving; and so it may be distinct from gift in the next clause; to show, that whereas men sometimes give good gifts in all evil way, and with an evil mind, God’s giving, as well as gift, is always good; and therefore when we receive any thing of him, we should look not only to the thing itself, but to his bounty and goodness in giving it. Or, it may be rendered as our translators do, gift, and so the word is sometimes used by profane writer’s themselves; and then, though it may be implied, that all good gifts, and of all kinds, of nature and of grace, are from God, yet the apostle’s design in this place being to prove that God is not the author of sin, good gifts may most fairly be understood the best gifts, those of grace, (spiritual blessings, Ephesians 1:3,) such being contrary to sin, and destructive of it, in one of which he instanceth, viz. regeneration, verse 18. And every perfect gift; the highest degree of good gifts, those that perfect us most; to intimate, that all the parts and steps of spiritual life, from the first beginning of grace in regeneration to the consummation of it in glory, are of God. Is from above; i.e. from heaven, John 3:27, 31; and heaven is put for God that dwells there, Luke 15:21.
[Coming down (what comes from God is said to descend, John 1:33 [Grotius]) from the Father (that is, the Creator, as the Father of spirits [Drusius], Hebrews 12:9 [Grotius]: or, originator [Vatablus, Piscator, Estius]: To the Hebrews the originator of a thing is a father, Genesis 4:20, 21 [Grotius, thus Drusius]: Thus the father of Edom, that is, the originator of the race [Drusius]: Thus Romulus is the father of Rome in Plutarch [Beza]) of lights] That is, from God (Drusius, Menochius), so called, either, 1. in the place of most luminous, that is, most glorious, as the God of glory, that is, glorious, Acts 7:2 (Piscator); or, 2. of lights, that is, (by an elegant metaphor) of truth, and of holiness; he is not, therefore, the cause of errors, of vices, of evil temptations, which are of darkness (Gomar): or, 3. of lights, that is, of every kind of light (Gataker); both corporeal (Estius, similarly Menochius), of the sun, moon, etc. (Estius), and spiritual (Estius, Menochius); of those illuminations, which are more rightly called אוּרִים/Urim than those flashes in the breastplate of the High Priest (Grotius); of notions in rational creatures (Piscator, similarly Beza); of revelations and inspirations, by which the minds of men are illuminated (Estius, thus Menochius), and are directed in the midst of the darkness of this life; but especially of good works, which are set over against sins, which are everywhere called darkness, as in John 3:19 and elsewhere, because they have their rise from error and the Devil [the Prince of Darkness] (Estius): or, of lights, that is, of all good things. For light is the cause and symbol of all good (Tirinus). Light is taken for good, as darkness is taken for evil (Gataker out of Illyricus).
[In whose presence, etc., παρ᾽ ᾧ οὐκ ἔνι παραλλαγή, ἢ τροπῆς ἀποσκίασμα] In whose presence is (or, is present [Beza, Piscator, Castalio]: A Syncope [Glassius], in which ἔνι is in the place of ἔνεστι, it is in or present [Beza, Glassius]; not in the place of it may be, but in the place of ἐστι, it is [Beza], from ἔνειμι, to be in or present [Glassius’ “Grammar” 3:3:1:229], as in Aristophanes’ Plutus 348, ἔνι κίνδυνος ἐν τῷ πράγματι, there is danger in the doing: For in one Manuscript we read ἐστι, it is [Beza]) not (or, no [Syriac]) shifting (or, change [Vatablus, Castalio, etc.: So that sometimes He might give light, sometimes not give light, as it happens with the sun and the moon, for example, through Eclipses [Menochius]: Or, local shifting, as in the case of the sun, which changes place while it is moved from the East unto the West, and from the Tropic of Cancer unto the Tropic of Capricorn [Tirinus]) or shadow of turning (or, of change [Montanus, Vulgate]) (Erasmus, Illyricus, Beza, Piscator, etc.). As it happens to the sun, on account of the earth interposed between it and us at night, etc. (Menochius). Whence now it is day, or light; now night, or shadow, which is greater or lesser according to the greater or lesser approach or recess of the sun (Tirinus). The sun now appears, now disappears (Beza); now it shines forth, now it is darkend by vapors, clouds, or eclipses (Gataker out of Illyricus). These are all terms of Astronomy. The Sun has παραλλαγὰς, changes of position, or παραλλάξεις/parallaxes, as Plato also says: it is conspicuous in one way at its rising, in another way at noonday, in another way at its setting (Grotius): παράλλαξις of Eclipses in doctrine is diversity of appearance, or an aberration in our sight (Strigelius). Moreover, [the sun] has τροπὰς/turns, annual withdrawals from us, which we call Solstices, the Greeks τροπὰς; Avienus translates it pulses. In proportion to those withdrawals it casts before us other shadows, which is ἀποσκίαζειν, to cast a shadow. Here God is compared to the Sun, and His light is shown to be much more perfect than that [light] of the Sun. God does not rise, nor does het or withdraw, but He is always near to those that call upon Him; He casts these lights without mixture of shadow, Malachi 3:6 (Grotius): His vision does not err, but He accurately foresees all things, what each one does, and with what intention, etc. (Stigelius): He is altogether immutable, as in essence and perfection, so also in position, vision, and operation (Tirinus): His light is able to be obscured and impeded by no obstruction of things, so that it penetrates less whithersoever He wills (Estius): He expands the rays of His beneficence everywhere; He constantly sends forth light, that is, good, never darkness, or shadows, of errors or sins (Tirinus). At one and the same time he indicates that only good things are from God, not evils: because He Himself cannot be turned from good to evil (Estius). Thus he comes to a doubt, that is to say, A man, that clearly previously conducts himself excellently in his entire manner of life, could at the same time slip in some way. But God is not mutable after the likeness of man (Calvin), but is always like Himself (Vatablus); and His will is always the same; and it happens that certain things fall out to us for evil, not by the fault of God, but by our own (Beza).
And cometh down from the Father; the Creator, Author, or First Cause, as Hebrews 12:9; it is spoken after the manner of the Hebrews: see Genesis 4:20, 21. Of lights; God is the author of all perfection, and so of corporeal light; but here we are to understand spiritual light, the light of knowledge, faith, holiness, as opposed to the darkness of ignorance, unbelief, sin; of which he cannot be the author. With whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning: he here sets forth God as essentially and immutably good, and the Father of lights, by allusion to the sun, the fountain of corporeal light, and makes use of terms borrowed from astronomy. The sun, though it scattereth its beams every where, yet is not without its changes, parallaxes, and diversities of aspects, not only sometimes clear and sometimes eclipsed, but one while in the east, another in the south, then in the west; nor without its turnings in its annual course from tropic to tropic, (to which the Greek word here used seems to allude,) its various accesses and recesses, by reason of which it casts different shadows: but God is always the same, like himself, constant in the emanations of his goodness, without casting any dark shadow of evil, which might infer a change in him.
 Hexameter is a metrical line of verse, consisting of six feet.
 Matthw 7:11: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts (δόματα) unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” So also Luke 11:13.
 Pelagius (c. 354-c. 420/440) was an opponent of Augustine; he denied Augustine’s doctrine of total depravity and the freeness and sovereignty of God’s grace.
 Cæsarius of Arles (c. 468-542) was a Gaulish bishop.
 Hebrews 2:10: “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make perfect (τελειῶσαι) through sufferings the captain of their salvation.”
 Hebrews 11:40: “God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect (τελειωθῶσι).”
 Greek: ἄνωθέν ἐστι.
 John 3:31: “He that cometh from above (ὁ ἄνωθεν ἐρχόμενος) is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven (ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἐρχόμενος) is above all.”
 Dionysius Halicarnassensis (c. 60- c. 7 BC) was a Greek historian and rhetorician.
 Genesis 36:43.
 Romulus and Remus were the mythical founders of Rome.
 Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans “Romulus”.
 אוּרִים appears to be related to אוּר/flame or אוֹר/light.
 See Exodus 28:30.
 That is, the loss of one or more sounds from the interior of a word.
 Solomon Glassius (1593-1656) was a German Lutheran divine and critic. He was Professor of Divinity at the University of Jena. His Philologia Sacra was a groundbreaking work in Biblical Hebrew.
 Aristophanes (c. 448-c. 385 BC) was a Greek comic playwright.
 Thus Codex Sinaiticus.
 Timæus 22d.
 Victorinus Strigelius (1524-1569) was a Melanchthonian Lutheran scholar; he served as Professor of Divinity at Jena and Wittenberg. He was embroiled in controversy over his synergistic soteriology and, later in life, over his acceptance of the Reformed doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. He wrote Hypomnemata in Omnes Libros Novi Testamenti, the second part of which is entitled Hypomnemata in Omnes Epistolas Pauli et Aliorum Apostolorum et in Apocalypsin.
 Avienus was a fourth century Latin author.
 Psalm 145:18.