God is evident

"....that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them...." Romans 1:19 NASB®

Faith and Skepticism! What about Doubting Thomas?

by Tom Crawford


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I think my namesake in the Bible, Thomas the Apostle, has gotten a bad rap over the years.  He is always known as Doubting Thomas.  In my opinion however, Doubting Thomas is a misnomer.  I really see Thomas more as Skeptical Thomas, in some ways a lot like me.

So let’s look at Thomas a little.  Thomas was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples (or students) for about 3 1/2 years.  Not a whole lot is said about Thomas in the Bible.  Following is what we do know about him from Scripture:

  • Thomas was one of the 12 disciples as stated above.  In the three listings of the disciples, he is lumped with Matthew (the author of the Gospel of Matthew).  (Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:15).
  • Thomas was one of the disciples of lesser importance.  He is not listed in the leadership (Peter, James, and John).  Nor did he write any of the books of the Bible.  We know that the one or two apocryphal books that bear his name are forgeries, since they were written more than 100 years after his death.
  • Thomas was a twin.  He is called Didymus (John 11:16, 20:24) which means double or twin.  Was he maybe an identical twin (“double”) of Matthew with whom he is linked above?  (I am just guessing, I have not read this anywhere.)
  • Thomas reminds me a little bit of Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh.  In the account recorded in John 11 where Jesus’ friend Lazarus had died, Jesus decides to pay a visit to his friends, Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters after Lazarus’ death.  Where Jesus and his disciples needed to go was a dangerous place because there were people there that wanted to see Jesus dead.  Thomas makes the Eeyore-like comment:
“Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with Him.’”  John 11:16 NASB®
  • Note that this verse does possibly say something about Thomas too.  He was willing to stick with a friend that he believed in, even though he was risking death to do so.


Other than Thomas making a comment the night before Jesus death (John 14:5), this is about all the background we have on Thomas as one of the 12 disciples of Christ.

So now, let’s talk about the Biblical account in which Thomas gained notoriety as Doubting Thomas.

Jesus had been arrested, put on trial before the Jewish Leaders and before the Roman Governor, Pontus Pilot.  Pilot ordered Jesus to be crucified – a tortuous death in which the Romans had become experts.  After Jesus was dead, two of His secret disciples (Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who were both of the Jewish Leadership) buried Jesus in Joseph’s tomb.  Three days later on Easter morning, Jesus rose from the dead and came back to life!  He appeared to various people (Mary, Martha, Peter, John, and others), and that evening, He appeared to His disciples, but Thomas was not there.  Here is what the Bible records:

“But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore were saying to him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’”  John 20:24-25 NASB®

You see, Thomas was skeptical!  A person coming back to life after he had died just does not happen!  Thomas knew that.  He had seen Jesus led off and crucified. The fact that he knew about the nails and the spear may indicate that he had looked on as his friend had died.   He was not convinced that Jesus had come back to life, no matter what his friends tried to tell him.  Rising from the dead after that cruel death was physically impossible!  Thomas was right to be skeptical.

But that is not the end of the account.

“And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.’ Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.’”  John 20:26-29 NASB®

Thomas was skeptical – until he was confronted by irrefutable facts!  Jesus proved to Thomas that He was alive!  He did not scold Thomas; He presented the evidence to Thomas.  And Thomas believed – he turned from being a skeptic and he put his faith in the resurrected Christ.

But even this is not the end of what we know about Thomas – Believing Thomas!

Thomas saw the resurrected Jesus at least one more time, probably more (John 21:2).  And Thomas was there with the other disciples on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:13), the day when God the Holy Spirit was poured out onto believers at the founding of the Church Universal.  Finally we know from extra-Biblical sources that Thomas became a missionary.  He traveled east preaching and teaching about the resurrected Christ in whom he now believed.  He reportedly founded churches in places like Assyria, Iran, Iraq, Syria, India, and possibly China and Japan.  Ultimately, Thomas was killed (martyred) in India for preaching about the resurrected Christ! (Ravi Zacharias, Ken Joseph Jr., John Fox).  Giving his life because of his faith in the resurrected Christ proves that Thomas was no longer a skeptic, but rather that he was convinced that Christ had risen from the dead!

Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods, (Nashville, Tennessee: W Publishing Group, a division of Thomas Nelson Inc.) pp 5, 15.

Ken Joseph Jr., Lost Identity, p 11, see www.keikyo.com/LostIdentity.pdf.

John Fox, Fox's Book of Martyrs Paragraph on Thomas in Chapter 1.


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