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Saint Thomas

QUESTION: Who was saint Thomas?


Who was Saint Thomas? Thomas was one of the twelve disciples. They were also called apostles or "those sent." Thomas was counted among them: "These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him" (Matthew 10:2-4).

Thomas is sometimes referred to in the gospels as Didymus, a Greek word which means "twin." There is conjecture over whose twin he might be; some list him as the twin of Matthew, others, the twin of James, the Less.

In any case, Thomas is infamous for his declaration after the resurrection of Jesus, "Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord!' But he said to them, 'Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it'" (John 20:24-25).

When Thomas was finally confronted by the Lord several days later, Christ's response to him has always been taken as a rebuke: "A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!' Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.' Thomas said to him, 'My Lord and my God!' Then Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'" (John 20:26-29).

This may, indeed, have been a deserved reprimand from the Lord. Nevertheless, one can well appreciate Thomas' dilemma due to his misfortune in not having been with the other disciples when they first saw the Lord. No doubt the other disciples had their own questionings about the Lord's resurrection as evidenced by their dejection and fear; neither were they the ones to whom Jesus referred, since they had believed in His resurrection after seeing Him.

Thomas also exhibited inquisitiveness during the earlier days of Jesus' ministry. Jesus had said, "'You know the way to the place where I am going.' Thomas said to him, 'Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?' Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'" (John 14:4-6).

Obviously, Thomas was a person who needed a clear understanding, who wanted all the facts and all of the evidence up front. Indeed, this can be a deterrent to faith; perhaps Jesus' response to Thomas was made to emphasize the grace of believing without seeing to those who would come after him, namely, you and me. Those of us who look back on the scriptural account of Thomas, scoff at his doubt; perhaps, we, without the written account of the resurrection, might also need our own verification.

Who was Saint Thomas? He appeared to be one who loved the Savior and seemed ready to die with Him. "Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, 'Let us also go, that we may die with him'" (John 11:16). Thomas ultimately overcame his grappling with fear and doubt. He is found with the eleven disciples in the upper room where they would expectantly wait together with other followers of Jesus to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

"Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers" (Acts 1:12-14).

Learn More about the Gospel of St. Thomas!

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