You have probably heard the phrase “Doubting Thomas.” It originated with this incident in the life of Thomas, one of the twelve apostles.
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although 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, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
All most people know of Thomas is that he wouldn’t believe Jesus had risen from the dead until he saw him with his own eyes. There is an earlier mention of Thomas that sheds more light on what he was like.
Mary and Martha had sent a message to Jesus telling him that their brother Lazarus was ill.
After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.”
The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.”
Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
Thomas’s response, “Let us also go, that we may die with him,” suggests that he possessed two characteristics, pessimism and loyalty to Christ. The fact that he believed going to Bethany would lead to their deaths shows he was a pessimist; the fact that he was still willing to go shows his loyalty. It was probably because he was naturally a pessimist that he doubted that Christ had risen from the dead. He expected bad things to happen and found it hard to believe good news such as the resurrection.
Apparently seeing Jesus permanently erased his doubts. The Bible tells us nothing of his later life but according to tradition he carried the gospel to India. Today there is a group in India called Saint Thomas Christians that traces it origin to Thomas.