The apostle, Mt 10:3, called in Greek Didymus, that is, a twin, Joh 20:24, was probably a Galilean, as well as the other apostles; but the place of his birth, and the circumstances of his calling, are unknown, Lu 6:13-15. He appears to have been of an impulsive character, sincerely devoted to Christ, ready to act upon his convictions, and perhaps slow to be convinced, as he at first doubted our Lord's resurrection, Joh 11:16; 14:5-6; 20:19-29. Several of the fathers inform us that he preached in the Indies; and others say that he preached in Cush, or Ethiopia, near the Caspian sea.
There are nominal Christians in the East Indies, who bear the name of St. Thomas, because they report that this apostle preached the gospel there. They dwell in a peninsula of the Indus, on this side the gulf.
twin, one of the twelve (Mt 10:3; Mr 3:18, etc.). He was also called Didymus (Joh 11:16; 20:24), which is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name. All we know regarding him is recorded in the fourth Gospel (Joh 11:15-16; 14:4-5; 20:24-25,26-29). From the circumstance that in the lists of the apostles he is always mentioned along with Matthew, who was the son of Alphaeus (Mr 3:18), and that these two are always followed by James, who was also the son of Alphaeus, it has been supposed that these three, Matthew, Thomas, and James, were brothers.
Hebrew, "twin;" Greek, Didymus. Coupled with Matthew in Mt 10:3; Mr 3:18; Lu 6:15; but with Philip in Ac 1:13. Matthew modestly puts himself after Thomas in the second quaternion of the twelve; Mark and Luke give him his rightful place before Thomas. Thomas, after his doubts were removed (Joh 20:28), having attained eminent faith (for sometimes faith that has overcome doubt is hardier than that of those who never doubt), is promoted above Bartholomew and Matthew in Acts. John records three incidents throwing strong light on his character:
(1) (Joh 11:8,15-16) When Jesus, for Lazarus' sake, proposed to go into Judaea again the disciples remonstrated, "Master, the Jews of late have sought to stone Thee, and goest Thou there again?" On Jesus' reply that His day was not yet closed, and that He was going to awake Lazarus out of the death sleep, and that He was glad of his death "to the intent that they might believe," Thomas evinced his devoted love on the one hand, ready to follow Jesus unto death (compare Paul, Ac 21:13), on the other hand ignoring, with characteristic slowness to believe, Jesus' plain statement as to His going to raise Lazarus. He can see no hope of escape; his natural despondency anticipates death as the certain issue of the journey, still in self devoting affection he will brave all.
(2) (Joh 14:4-6) "Where I go ye know, and the way ye know;" Thomas saith, "Lord, we know not where Thou goest (yet Jesus had answered Peter's question, Joh 13:36), 'Lord, where goest Thou?' and plainly told the disciples He was going to 'His Father's house', Joh 14:2, ascending to where He had been before, Joh 6:62), and how can we know the way?" Thomas still cannot raise his mind to the unseen future home where Jesus is going, or realize the way as through Jesus.
(3) (Joh 20:20,24-29) Thomas with morbid brooding over doubts had absented himself from the disciples' assembly on the first Lord's day, when "He showed unto them His hands and His side"; so he missed the immediate blessing (compare Heb 10:25). The disciples did not stand aloof from Thomas though he had stood aloof from them; they told him, "we have seen the Lord." But he said with an unreasonable demand for sense evidence which is alien to the very idea of faith, and at the same time with language that marks the vivid impression which his Lord's body nailed on the cross had made on his mind, "except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side (one sense, seeing, is not enough; not even feeling also will satisfy him unless he feels with both hand and finger the spear mark as well as the nail marks) I will not and cannot believe" (oumee pisteusoo).
A week of gloom to Thomas elapsed, the retribution in kind for his obstinate unbelief. Though Jesus might have cast him off yet He would not break the bruised reed; He condescends to Thomas' culpable weakness. On the next Lord's day, Thomas, laying aside his morbid isolation, attended the weekly assembly of disciples; though the doors were shut Jesus came and stood in the midst with His wonted salutation, "Peace be unto you"; then saith He to Thomas, with grave yet tender reproof (showing that He knew all that had passed in Thomas's mind and all he had said to his fellow disciples), "reach here thy finger, and behold My hands, and reach here thy hand, and thrust it into My side; and be ("become", ginou) not faithless but believing". Thomas said unto Him, My Lord and my God!"
A refutation of Socinianism, because Thomas addresses these words to Jesus. The highest confession of faith in Jesus' Godhead thus far made; see Peter's (Joh 6:69; Mt 16:16). As this forms the close of John's Gospel, before the supplementary chapter (John 21) was added, this ending recurs to the doctrine alleged in the Gospel's beginning, "the Word was God." Like Mary Magdalene (Joh 20:13) Thomas appropriates Jesus to himself, "my Lord and, my God." From the overwhelming proofs before him of Jesus' humanity Thomas believes in His Divinity. The resurrection of the Son of man proved that He was the Son of God (Ro 1:4).
All Christ's appearances in the 40 days were preparations for the believing without seeing (1Pe 1:8). Jesus spoke for all our dispensation what He said to Thomas, "because thou hast seen Me thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed" (2Co 5:7). Thomas was permitted to doubt, that we might not doubt ("Ab eo dubitatum est, ne a nobis dubitaretur"; Augustine). God's word, not demonstration, is the true ground of faith. Thomas is named next to Peter among the seven on the sea of Galilee, a proof that he was a fisherman like Peter (Joh 21:2). He appears for the last time among the disciples met after the ascension (Ac 1:13). The case of Thomas does not sanction but condemns skepticism, for if others were to demand the same tangible visible proofs as Thomas demanded miracles would have to be so continual as to cease to be miraculous, and sight would supersede faith. The unbelief of Thomas drew forth such an infallible proof of the identity between the crucified and the risen Lord that he who any longer disbelieves and is consequently condemned is left without excuse.
One of the twelve Apostles. The earlier Evangelists mention only his name (Mt 10:3 = Mr 3:18 = Lu 6:15), but St. John has rescued him from oblivion. His question in the Upper Room (Joh 14:5) proves him somewhat slow of understanding. He was querulous and gloomy, always disposed to look at the dark side. Thus, when Jesus on the evening of the Resurrection-day appeared to the Apostles in the room at Jerusalem where they were assembled with closed doors, Thomas was absent, buried in despair; and when he heard that they had seen the Lord, he would not believe it. He would not, he declared, be persuaded unless he saw and handled His pierced hands and side (Joh 20:19-25). The next Sunday evening Jesus appeared as before, and gave Thomas the evidence he had craved. 'My Lord and my God!' cried the doubter, leaping from the depth of despair to the summit of faith (Joh 20:26,29). His doubts were removed, and he was one of the seven who journeyed north to meet the Lord at the Lake of Galilee (Joh 21:2). Despondent though he was, Thomas was no coward, and he had a great devotion to Jesus. It was he who, when tidings of Lazarus' sickness were brought to Bethany beyond Jordan, and the rest, fearing the rage of the rulers, were disposed to let the Master venture alone into Jud
One of the twelve apostles, called also DIDYMUS, a twin. He comes prominently before us on two significant occasions: once when he said to the Lord, "We know not whither thou goest, and how can we know the way?" The Lord replied, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Joh 14:5-6. Also when he said that he would not believe that the Lord had risen until he had ocular demonstration as to His wounds; but when he saw the Lord, he at once confessed Him as "My Lord and my God." Joh 20:19-29. He was not with the other disciples when the Lord breathed into them, and said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost;" and thus he may be taken as a type of the future remnant of the Jews, who will not believe till they see their Messiah. In contrast to which the Lord added a beautiful sentence respecting those of the present time: "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."
(a twin), one of the apostles. According to Eusebius, his real name was Judas. This may have been a mere confusion with Thaddeus, who is mentioned in the extract. But it may also be that; Thomas was a surname. Out of this name has grown the tradition that he had a twin-sister, Lydia, or that he was a twin-brother of our Lord; which last, again, would confirm his identification with Judas. Comp.
He is said to have been born at Antioch. In the catalogue of the apostles he is coupled with Matthew in
and with Philip in
All that we know of him is derived from the Gospel of St. John; and this amounts to three traits, which, however, so exactly agree together that, slight as they are they place his character before us with a precision which belongs to no other of the twelve apostles except Peter, John and Judas Iscariot. This character is that of a man slow to believe, seeing all the difficulties of a case, subject to despondency, viewing things on the darker side, yet full of ardent love of his Master. The latter trait was shown in his speech when our Lord determined to face the dangers that awaited him in Judea on his journey to Bethany. Thomas said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."
His unbelief appeared in his question during the Last Supper: "Thomas saith unto him Lord we know not whither thou goest, and how can we: know the way?"
It was the prosaic, incredulous doubt as to moving a step in the unseen future, and yet an eager inquiry as to how this step was to be taken. The first-named trait was seen after the resurrection. He was absent --possibly by accident, perhaps characteristically --from the first assembly when Jesus had appeared. The others told him what they had seen. He broke forth into an exclamation, the terms of which convey to us at once the vehemence of his doubt, and at the same time the vivid picture that his mind retained of his Master's form as he had last seen him lifeless on the cross.
On the eighth day he was with them st their gathering, perhaps in expectation of a recurrence of the visit of the previous week; and Jesus stood among them. He uttered the same salutation, "Peace be unto you;" and then turning to Thomas, as if this had been the special object of his appearance, uttered the words which convey as strongly the sense of condemnation and tender reproof as those of Thomas had shown the sense of hesitation and doubt. The effect on him was immediate. The conviction produced by the removal of his doubt became deeper and stronger than that of any of the other apostles. The words in which he expressed his belief contain a far higher assertion of his Master's divine nature than is contained in any other expression used by apostolic lips--"My Lord and my God." The answer of our Lord sums up the moral of the whole narrative: "Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen me, and yet have-believed."
In the New Testament we hear of Thomas only twice again, once on the Sea of Galilee with the seven disciples, where he is ranked next after Peter,
and again in the assemblage of the apostles after the ascension.
The earlier traditions, as believed in the fourth century, represent him as preaching in Parthia or Persia, and as finally buried at Edessa. The later traditions carry him farther east, His martyrdom whether in Persia or India, is said to have been occasioned by a lance, and is commemorated by the Latin Church on December 21 the Greek Church on October 6, and by the Indians on July 1.
THOMAS, the Apostle, otherwise called Didymus, which in Greek signifies a twin, Mt 10:3; Lu 6:15. We know no particulars of his life till A.D. 33, Joh 11:16; 14:5-6; 20:24-29; 21:1-13. Ancient tradition says, that in the distribution which the Apostles made of the several parts of the world, wherein they were to preach the Gospel, the country of the Parthians fell to the share of St. Thomas. It is added, that he preached to the Medes, Persians, Carmanians, Hircanians, Bactrians, &c. Several of the fathers inform us that he also preached in the East Indies, &c.