What is Thomas the disciple of Jesus known for?
I would say nine times out of ten, the answer would be that he is known for initially doubting that Jesus was seen after His death. I believe that it is true to a certain degree. Thomas said in John 20:25, “I will not believe” even after the 10 of his fellow disciples, alleged that they saw Him!
I would just like to point out that the rest of the disciples are just as guilty of doubting until seeing Jesus and His wounds in His resurrected body.
Let’s look at the account found in Luke 24:37-39
“But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. And He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’”
The rest of the disciples needed some heavy convincing just as much as Thomas!
The account from John 20:20 states that the disciples also needed to see His hands and His side to get 20/20 vision that it was Jesus! Once they saw the wounds, then they rejoiced.
I would like to say that Thomas should not be known for his doubting, we all doubt. What about his courage? I would like to point out his boldness to follow Jesus unto death in a story also recorded in the book of John.
Jesus had recently fled from the Jews in Judea that attempted to stone Him. Then news that His friend Lazarus died led Him to go back to see His friend that was not far from the City of Judea.
But the disciples said, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?” (11:8)
Thomas said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.” (11:16)
So let’s give Thomas some credit! He was willing to go into Judea with Jesus even if it meant that he would be stoned by doing so!
I have my own thought on why I think Thomas said, “I will not believe” when the disciples gave their accounts.
I think that just like most of the disciples before Jesus ascended into heaven, Thomas did not understand the death, resurrection, and ascension that had to take place before His final return. I could be wrong but maybe Thomas would not believe because he was remembering the words that Jesus spoke to them concerning His second coming.
Mark 13:21 “Then if anyone says to you, “Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, He is there!’ do not believe it.”
Maybe Thomas thought his friends were speaking of the return of Jesus Christ and not resurrection. I do not believe Jesus rebuked Thomas for not believing until seeing because his doubt did not cause him to flee from his fellow friends and followers of Christ.
The good news is all the disciples including Thomas believed because they physically saw Him. The good-er news is Jesus said, “Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”
And hopefully sooner than later we will all say to Jesus, “My Lord and my God.” as Thomas did.
Note’s on Thomas:
Thomas in Hebrew (or Aramaic) means “the twin.” Didymus in Greek means “the twin.” It is possible that Thomas had a twin.
Thomas went on to spread the gospel as far as India. He might have been the only one of the original disciples to take the gospel outside of the Roman Empire.
It is said that he was martyred in 70 A.D. by being pierced with spears.