My basic take on the passage is that James is describing the relationship of the saints to God (aka "the father") in terms of "light begetting light". God is the "father of lights" and the saints are the "sons of light". The medium of the begetting is the message of truth:
James 1: 17Every 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. 18Of his own will begat he
us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits
of his creatures.
The message within the message is that the pure intention and sincere benevolence that is to characterize the believers (as opposed to a "double mind") is imparted into the believer through the power of the God-breathed scriptures, such that the believer partakes of the divine nature and becomes a light to the world; "a kind of first fruits of his creatures".
The concept of light begetting light and the notion of "sons of light" is found in other places in the scriptures:
John 12:36 "While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that
you may become sons of Light." These things Jesus spoke, and He went
away and hid Himself from them.
Ephesians 5: 8For you were once darkness, but now you are light in
the Lord. Live as children of light 9(for the fruit of the light
consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10and find out what
pleases the Lord. 11Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of
darkness, but rather expose them. 12It is shameful even to mention
what the disobedient do in secret. 13But everything exposed by the
light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a
light. 14This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
James points out that the light from God is not variable. It isn't light for 12 hours of the day and 12 in darkness. Rather God is constant, consistent, pure and free from any darkness at all:
James 1:17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from
the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting
This becomes a marker for genuine obedience to the true message:
BSB 1 John 1: 4We write these things so that our joy may be
complete. 5And this is the message we have heard from Him and
announce to you: God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at
all. 6If we say we have fellowship with Him yet walk in the
darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
Because several translations add "heavenly" or "celestial" before the word "lights" in translations, suggesting "light giving bodies" I'm supplying the BDAG entries for both the actual usages of the word in James and the word in Genesis 1:
Used in James 1:17:
'φῶς, φωτός, τό (Trag.+ [in Hom. φάος or φόως]; loanw. in rabb.) ‘light’
① light in contrast to darkness, light
ⓐ in the physical realm καθόλου τὸ φῶς μὴ βλέπειν (of Judas) Papias (3:2).—Opp. σκότος, as Job 18:18; En 104:8; PGM 5, 101; 7, 262; 13, 335; Theoph. Ant. 1, 2 (p. 60, 7) 2 Cor 4:6 (cp. Gen 1:3ff); 6:14. Not present at night J 11:10. λευκὸς ὡς τὸ φ. Mt 17:2. νεφέλη φωτός a bright cloud vs. 5 v.l. (TestAbr A 9 p. 87, 12 [Stone p. 22]). Of the light of the sun (φ. ἡλίου: Dio Chrys. 57 , 20 fr. Eur., Hippol. 617; Ael. Aristid. 45, 29 K.=8 p. 95 D; ApcZeph; Just., D. 128, 4; τὸ φ. τοῦ ἡλίου Theoph. Ant. 1, 2 [p. 60, 16]) Rv 22:5b; of a wondrous star IEph 19:2ab. Of lamp-light (Jer 25:10; Jos., Ant. 12, 319) Lk 8:16; 11:33 (v.l. φέγγος); J 5:35 (in imagery); Rv 18:23; 22:5a. Light fr. a transcendent source (Ael. Aristid. 49, 46 K.=p. 500, 17 D. ἐγένετο φῶς παρὰ τῆς Ἴσιδος; Marinus, Vi. Procli 23: a halo of light around Proclus’ head moves the beholder to προσκύνησις): an angel Ac 12:7; 2 Cor 11:14 (here ἄγγελος φωτός [cp. 1QS 3:20] is a messenger of the world of light in contrast to Satan); of Paul’s conversion experience Ac 9:3; 22:6 (both w. ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, as X., Cyr. 4, 2, 15; Dio Chrys. 11 , 29), 9, 11; 26:13 (οὐρανόθεν); the heavenly city Rv 21:24 (s. also bα below). ἐφάνη φῶς μέγα ἐν τῷ σπηλαίῳ a bright light appeared in the cave GJs 19:2, followed by φῶς ἐκεῖνο ὑπεστέλλετο that light faded out. ἦν τὸ ὄρος ἐκεῖνο διαφαίνων (pap=διαφαῖνον) αὐτῇ φ. that mountain was shining a light for her GJs 22:3.—In imagery: (εἰς φ. ἐλθεῖν=‘become apparent’ Hippol., Ref. 4, 28, 4) ἐν τῷ φωτί in the open, publicly (φ. of ‘the open’ X., Ages. 9, 1.—Opp. ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ) Mt 10:27; Lk 12:3 (Proverbia Aesopi 104 P.: ἅπερ ἐν νυκτὶ καλύπτεται, ταῦτα εἰς φῶς λαληθέντα … ‘what is hidden in the night gets talked about in the light’). Of an evil-doer it is said: μισεῖ τὸ φῶς καὶ οὐκ ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸ φῶς J 3:20 (cp. Eur., Iph. T. 1026 κλεπτῶν γὰρ ἡ νύξ, τῆς δʼ ἀληθείας τὸ φῶς=the night’s for thieves, the light’s for truth; Plut., Mor. 82b, Contra Volupt. in Stob., Anthol. 3, 6, 33 vol. III 299 H.; Philo, De Jos. 68, Spec. Leg. 1, 319–23; TestNapht 2:10).
ⓑ in a transcendent sense
α. the passages in the central portion of 1a above show that light is the element and sphere of the divine (Ael. Aristid. 28, 114 K.=49 p. 528 D.: τοῦ θεοῦ φῶς; SibOr 3, 787 ἀθάνατον φ.; Tat. 13, 2 λόγος … ἐστὶ τὸ τοῦ θεοῦ φ.—Iren. 1, 4, 1 [Harv. I 32, 1]). God is called φῶς οἰκῶν ἀπρόσιτον 1 Ti 6:16 (Plut., Pericl. 173 [39, 2] the gods dwell in τὸν τόπον ἀσάλευτον φωτὶ καθαρωτάτῳ περιλαμπόμενον, Mor. 567f: the divine φωνή proceeds fr. a φῶς μέγα that suddenly shines forth), or it is said that God dwells ἐν τῷ φωτί 1J 1:7b. In fact, God is described as light pure and simple ὁ θεὸς φῶς ἐστιν vs. 5 (Philo, Somn. 1, 75; cp. TestJob 4:1 εἶπεν τὸ φῶς; ParJer 6:12; Ath. 31, 3 πάντα δὲ φῶς αὐτὸν ὄντα.—OSchaefer, StKr 105, ’33, 467–76). Cp. Dg 9:6. Likew. the Divine Redeemer (ParJer 9:14 τὸ φῶς τῶν αἰώνων πάντων) in the Fourth Gospel: J 1:7–9 (FAuer, Wie ist J 1:9 zu verstehen?: ThGl 28, ’36, 397–407); 12:35ab, 36ab (for 1J 2:8 s. β; on divinity as light s. RCharles, The Book of Enoch 1912, 71f; GWetter, Phōs [ΦΩΣ] 1915. S. also MDibelius, Die Vorstellung v. göttl. Licht: Deutsche Literaturzeitung 36, 1915, p 1073 1469–83 and MNilsson, GGA 1916, 49ff; FDölger, Die Sonne der Gerechtigkeit 1918, Sol Salutis 1920; WBousset, Kyrios Christos 2, 1921, 173; 174, 2 and 3; HJonas, Gnosis u. spätantiker Geist I ’34; Dodd 133–36; 183–87 al.; EGoodenough, By Light, Light: The Mystic Gospel of Hellenistic Judaism ’35; RBultmann, Z. Gesch. der Lichtsymbolik im Altertum: Philol 97, ’48, 1–36; 1QH 4:6; 18:29; BGU 597, 33 [I A.D.]). Jesus calls himself τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου J 8:12a; 9:5; 12:46; cp. 3:19a (Mel., P. 103, 795; Wetter, ‘Ich bin das Licht der Welt’: Beiträge zur Religionswissenschaft I/2, 1914, 171ff), and is called τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων 1:4 (Ael. Aristid. 45, 33 K.=8 p. 97 D.: Sarapis as κοινὸν ἄπασιν ἀνθρώποις φῶς; hymn to Anubis fr. Kios [IAndrosIsis, p. 139] 7: Isis as φῶς πᾶσι βροτοῖσι). His very being is light and life (ζωή 2aβ; s. JWeisengoff, CBQ 8, ’46, 448–51) 1:4. Cp. also vs. 5; 3:19b, 21; Lk 2:32 (Jesus is a φῶς εἰς ἀποκάλυψιν ἐθνῶν).—FDölger, Lumen Christi: Ac V/1, ’35, 1–43. The martyr καθαρὸν φῶς λαμβάνει receives the pure light of heaven IRo 6:2.
β. light, that illuminates the spirit and soul of humans (OdeSol 11:19 μεταβληθέντες ἀπὸ σκότους εἰς τὸ φῶς; JosAs 15:13 ἀναγαγεῖν με εἰς τὸ φῶς; Mel., P. 68, 491 ῥυσάμενος … ἐκ σκότους εἰς φῶς; Philosoph. Max. 499, 39 σωφροσύνη … ψυχῆς φῶς ἐστιν), is gener. the element in which the redeemed person lives, rich in blessings without and within (En 5:6 σωτηρία, φῶς ἀγαθόν; vs. 8 φ. καὶ χάρις; PsSol 3:12 ἡ ζωὴ αὐτῶν ἐν φωτὶ κυρίου): τότε ῤαγήσεται πρώϊμον τὸ φῶς σου then your light will break out early in the morning B 3:4 (Is 58:8; s. πρόϊμος, end). Of God δεῖξαι αὐτῷ (God’s servant) φῶς 1 Cl 16:12 (Is 53:11); of Messianic salvation, the gospel, etc. (opp. σκοτία, σκότος) Mt 4:16ab; AcPl Ha 8, 32f (Is 9:1ab; cp. Lucian, Nigr. 4 ἔχαιρον ὥσπερ ἐκ ζοφεροῦ ἀέρος ἐς μέγα φῶς ἀναβλέπων ‘I rejoiced, looking up as it were from a gloomy atmosphere into a bright light’); Ac 26:18; Eph 5:13; Col 1:12; 1 Pt 2:9; 1 Cl 36:2; 59:2; 2 Cl 1:4. τὸ φῶς τῆς ζωῆς (cp. 1QS 3:7) J 8:12b. τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν (ParJer 9:3 φ. ἀληθινόν; cp. τὸ τῆς ἀληθείας φ. Did., Gen. 87, 23f; Orig., C. Cels. 5, 13, 20; saying of Pythagoreans: WienerStud 8, 1886 p. 280 no. 118 in contrast to σκότος; cp. TestJob 43:6 ὁ τοῦ σκότους καὶ οὐχὶ τοῦ φωτός [of Elihu]) 1J 2:8, cp. J 1:9 (s. α above). φῶς καταγγέλλειν Ac 26:23. To be filled w. Christian truth means ἐν τῷ φωτὶ περιπατεῖν 1J 1:7a, εἶναι 2:9, μένειν vs. 10. Such persons are called υἱοὶ τοῦ φωτός Lk 16:8; J 12:36c (cp. 1QS 1:9 et passim); 1 Th 5:5; τέκνα φωτός Eph 5:8b (ESelwyn, 1 Pt ’46, 375–82; KKuhn, NTS 7, ’61, 339: 1QS 3:20; 5:9, 10); τέκνα φωτὸς ἀληθείας IPhld 2:1 (Porphyr., Ep. ad Marcellam 20 φῶς τοῦ θεοῦ τῆς ἀληθείας; Simplicius p. 88, 3; 138, 30 Düb. τὸ τῆς ἀληθείας φῶς). They put on τὰ ὅπλα τοῦ φωτός Ro 13:12, travel the ὁδὸς τοῦ φωτός B 18:1; 19:1, 12, and produce the καρπὸς τοῦ φωτός Eph 5:9. The rdg. τ̣ο̣ [φω]ς Ox 1081, 29 is better restored after the Coptic SJCh as τέλος (q.v. 1).
γ. bearers or bringers of this kind of light (φῶς of persons: Od. 16, 23; Anacr. 51 Diehl [32 Page; 124 Bergk] φάος Ἑλλήνων; Pind., I. 2, 17; Trag.; Biogr. p. 453 Hippocr. as ἀστήρ and φῶς of the healing art; TestJob 53:3 Job as φῶς τῶν τυφλῶν; SIG 1238, 2 [c. 160 A.D.] Φήγιλλα, τὸ φῶς τῆς οἰκίας) Is 49:6 φῶς ἐθνῶν is referred to Paul and Barnabas Ac 13:47, and to Christ B 14:8 (as Just., D. 65, 7); cp. 14:7 (Is 42:6) and cp. bα above. The Ἰουδαῖος considers himself a φῶς τῶν ἐν σκότει Ro 2:19. Jesus’ disciples are τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου Mt 5:14; cp. vs. 16.—On Is 49:6 s. HOrlinsky, The 75th Anniv. Vol. of the JQR ’67, 409–28.
δ. by metonymy, one who is illuminated or filled w. such light, or who stands in it Eph 5:8a (s. 1bβ above).—On the dualism of light and darkness, etc., s. Hebr. texts in the Dead Sea scrolls: KKuhn, ZTK 47, ’50, 192–211; WBrownlee, Excerpts fr. theTransl. of the Dead Sea Manual of Discipline: BASOR no. 121, ’51, 8–13; HPreisker, TLZ 77, ’52, 673–78; CHowie, The Cosmic Struggle: Int 8, ’54, 206–17.
② that which gives/bears light, torch, lamp, lantern, etc. (X., Hell. 5, 1, 8 φῶς ἔχειν; Musaeus vs. 224 of a λύχνος. Pl.: Plut., Ant. 927 [26, 6], Pelop. 284 [12, 3] al.; Lucian, Philops. 31) Ac 16:29. Fire, which furnishes both light and heat (X., Hell. 6, 2, 29; Cyr. 7, 5, 27; 1 Macc 12:29) Mk 14:54 (GBuchanan, ET 68, ’56, 27); Lk 22:56. Heavenly bodies (Manetho, Apotel. 6, 146 sun and moon δύο φῶτα; likew. Dio Chrys. 23 , 38; Ptolem., Apotel. 2, 13, 8; 3, 3, 3; 3, 5, 3 al. τὰ φ=constellations; Vett. Val. index II p. 384; PGM 13, 400; Ps 135:7; Jer 4:23): God is πατὴρ τῶν φώτων Js 1:17 (TestAbr B 7 p. 111, 11 [Stone p. 70] φῶς καλούμενον πατὴρ τοῦ φωτός; cp. ApcMos 36; 38); the sun as τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου τούτου J 11:9 (Macrobius, Saturnal. 1, 23, 21 ἥλιε παντοκράτορ, … κόσμου φῶς; cp. Ps.-Demosth. 60, 24). Of the eye as an organ of light (Eur., Cycl. 633 φῶς Κύκλωπος; Ath. 32, 2) Mt 6:23; Lk 11:35.
③ that which is illuminated by light: πᾶν τὸ φανερούμενον φῶς ἐστιν everything that becomes visible is (=stands in the) light Eph 5:14.—CMugler, Dictionnaire historique de la terminologie optique des Grecs ’64.—B. 60. Cp. φέγγος; s. Schmidt, Syn. I 563–98. DELG s.v. φάε. Frisk s.v. φάος. New Docs 1, 98f. M-M. EDNT. TW. Spicq. Sv.
Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., pp. 1072–1073). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Used in Genesis 1, LXX:
'φωστήρ, ῆρος, ὁ (cp. φῶς)
① light-giving body, esp. of heavenly bodies, specif. star (Heliod. 2, 24, 6; Vett. Val. 104, 30; 105, 7; Herm. Wr. 496, 2 Sc. [the sun]; Anth. Pal. 15, 17, 3 [Christian]; T. Kellis 22, 17 PGM 13, 298; IDefixWünsch 5, 23; Gen 1:14, 16; Wsd 13:2; Sir 43:7; En; PsSol 18:10;. SibOr 3, 88; TestLevi 14:3; TestJud 25:2; Ar.; Tat. 12, 4; Mel., P. 83, 618; 97, 740) Phil 2:15 (cp. Da 12:3; En 104:2 ὡσεὶ φωστῆρες τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἀναλάμψετε).—In a fragmentary text: [φ]ωσ̣[τὴ]ρ ἀπεδίκνυεν (as would) a star (the Lord) showed (the way) (?) AcPl Ha 7. 35.
② state of brightness or shining, splendor, radiance (Anth. Pal. 11, 359, 7; 1 Esdr 8:76) Rv 21:11.—Cp. φέγγος, s. Schmidt, Syn. I 563–98. DELG s.v. φάε C. Frisk s.v. φάος. M-M. TW. Spicq.
Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 1073). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
So within the scriptures there does not seem to be any possibility that the "lights" are "stars".
Notice that the light was made on Day One and the luminaries were made days later. Also notice that the sun is not present in the new Jerusalem because Yehovah is the light thereof:
KJV Rev 21:23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the
moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the
Lamb is the light thereof. Rev 21:24 And the nations of them which
are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do
bring their glory and honour into it.