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Who was Thomas in the Bible?

Thomas was one of Jesus' twelve disciples. He is sometimes also referred to by his Greek name, Didymus. Both Thomas and Didymus mean "twin," though the Bible never explicitly mentions him having a twin (John 11:16; 20:24). Thomas is recorded in each of the lists of Jesus' disciples (Matthew 10:2–4; Mark 3:14–19; Luke 6:13–16; Acts 1:13) and also features in a few major events in the book of John.

Today we call someone a "Doubting Thomas" if they do not believe something they have not experienced personally. This phrase originated from the disciple Thomas after he doubted the resurrection of Jesus. A few days after Jesus' death, the disciples were gathered in a locked room, but Thomas was not with them. Jesus appeared to the men, who told Thomas the good news of Jesus' resurrection (John 20:19–24). Thomas replied, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe" (John 20:25). Thomas knew Jesus had been crucified and died. His request for evidence of Jesus' resurrection seems natural. A week later Jesus appeared again in front of the disciples and Thomas was with them. He told Thomas, "'Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.' Thomas answered him, 'My Lord and my God!' Jesus said to him, 'Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed'" (John 20:27–29).

Thomas may have had doubts, but it did not undermine his choice to follow Jesus. When Jesus' dear friend Lazarus died, the disciples feared going to grieve for him in the town of Bethany. Many people wanted Jesus dead, and going near Jerusalem put them all in danger. However, Thomas spoke up and encouraged his fellow disciples saying that they must follow Him even if it led to their death (John 11:1–16). Later Jesus explained to His disciples that He would soon have to leave them and that He will prepare a place for them in heaven. The disciples did not understand yet that Jesus was describing His death and resurrection. Thomas' desire to follow Jesus is unwavering, though, and he asks for clarification of how he can follow Jesus if he does not know where he is going (John 14:5). Jesus replies with the famous words, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). It was through Thomas' questioning that we get the clear message from Jesus that salvation is through Him alone.

Although Thomas doubted it did not mean that his faith was insincere. Thomas' doubt was not willful rejection of truth. Rather, he asked honest questions and investigated. Like many of us, Thomas wanted concrete evidence in order to make sense of the seemingly impossible—Jesus rising from the dead. Christians do not follow Jesus blindly or in ignorance. Believers come to the conclusion that Jesus is Lord through the Bible, the witness of other believers, personal experience of God's work in their lives, and the work of the Holy Spirit. You can approach Jesus with your doubts and questions. Jesus did not reveal everything to Thomas, but He did answer him with what he needed to know in order to follow Him. Likewise, we may not have all the answers to life, but we can turn to the Bible and pray to God in order that we may grow in knowledge and know what we need to be able to faithfully follow Jesus.


Related Truth:

Who were Jesus' twelve (12) disciples / apostles?

Who was Andrew in the Bible?

What can we learn from what the Bible says about James the apostle?

Who was Philip in the Bible?

Who was Nathanael in the Bible?


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