Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” ―John 20:28
Although several stories of doubt exist in the Bible, it is Thomas’s incident that seems to catch the most attention, earning him the nickname “Doubting Thomas.” Fortunately, John’s Gospel and some early Church historians give additional information on Thomas, helping searchers to realize that the doubting story was only one part of Thomas’s experience as an apostle.
John’s first account of Thomas actually displays a man of tremendous faith. Jesus had barely escaped a fierce stoning in Jerusalem when just a few days later, he received word that his friend Lazarus was quite ill. Lazarus lived in Bethany, a very short distance from Jerusalem, and Jesus felt strongly compelled to go there, knowing that a miracle surrounding Lazarus’s death was necessary to illustrate the glory of God. However, the apostles were aghast and tried to discourage Jesus from returning to an area where he had so recently almost been killed. Ironically, it was Thomas who was the believing one. He bravely encouraged all to go to Bethany with Jesus, even if it meant death for them: “Let us also go to die with him.” (John 11:16)
Thomas’s doubting story took place after Jesus’ resurrection. When Jesus appeared to the disciples in all his glory, for some reason, Thomas was absent. Later, when Thomas rejoined the disciples, they told him all that had happened, but he was unconvinced. He then made his famous statement about needing to place his finger and hand in Jesus’ wounds before he would believe. A week later, Jesus again appeared, and this time Thomas was there. Jesus momentously offered Thomas the opportunity to touch his wounds, and Thomas then proclaimed an ardent belief in the risen Jesus.
Most traditions point to Thomas as having evangelized in India following Pentecost. Today, there is a devout community of Catholics on the Malabar Coast of India who call themselves the St. Thomas Christians. They claim that their community began through the teachings of Thomas himself.
It is believed that Thomas was speared to death for his works in India. He is honored on July 3 and is the patron of architects.
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