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Thomas was an Apostle of Jesus Christ. He is usually paired with Bartholomew, Thaddeus, and Philip as he is believed to have preached the gospel with them in Armenia, India, Mesopotamia, and Persia. He is also called Didymus.

When Lazarus died, Jesus was about to go to him. When He told His disciples about Lazarus' death and said He was going to wake him up, Thomas told the disciples that they should go and die with Him.[1]

Thomas doubted that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead. Jesus had appeared to the disciples when Thomas wasn't with them. When they told him about Jesus, he said he wouldn't believe unless he touch the nail wounds in Jesus' hands and the spear wound in His side. A week after he said that, Jesus appeared to the disciples again when Thomas was with them. Jesus told him to touch his hands and side and to stop doubting and to believe.[2]

Biography

Early Life and Call

Like the other disciples, Thomas was born during the reign of Augustus Caesar. If a twin, he was probably the smaller of the two fraternal twins, growing up in the shadow of his brother. As he grew up in Galilee, he would have been among those that looked for a deliverer to ease the oppression of the Roman occupation. Then, after Tiberius Caesar had come to power, a prophet arose in Galilee by the name of John telling people that they needed to change from their evil ways. But the charismatic preacher said he was not the expected Messiah, but rather just a herald pointing the way to the true savior. Some time later, Jesus, a local rabbi from Nazareth was baptized by John, and revealed to be the promised Messiah.

Since all we know about Thomas is from Apostle John, it is apparent that he was one of the earlier disciples who joined with Jesus after John was put in prison. He is listed in the second "circle" of apostles along with Bartholomew, Philip and Matthew.

Early Ministry

Thomas was among a large following that Jesus had gathered in his first year of ministry. He would have seen and even performed miracles to authenticate the message Jesus taught on the mountain the day before he commissioned the "Twelve", called "apostles" or missionaries. But it was not until about three years later that he would stand out among the disciples closest to Jesus. Things had been tense in Jerusalem, forcing the Master and his followers to flee to safer areas. But then their friend Lazarus got sick in Bethany, a town near Jerusalem. Thomas boldly proclaimed his willingness to go to help their friend, even if it meant death. With the others, they viewed the greatest miracle imaginable apart from the Resurrection.

As things got more dangerous, and the end was near, Jesus gave his last talk to his assembled disciples. He spoke of the true path to God. While the others looked around trying to figure out what the Master meant, Thomas blurted out, "How can we know the way?" The answer was like precious stones. Jesus said "I am the way, the truth, and the life." The mystery of the coming death on the cross was not yet solved, but Thomas' question helped clear up the urgency of the times.

After the Crucifixion Thomas refused to believe a report that Jesus had risen from the grave. When the others had seen the Savior alive, Thomas had been elsewhere. It was not until a week later, after the Jewish festival of First Fruits was past, that Jesus returned to visit the disciples. At that time, Thomas saw the proof, fell down with his face to the ground and cried out, "My Lord and my God."

Apostolic Ministry

Along with the ten others, Thomas was had watched Jesus go up bodily into heaven after giving them instructions to first wait ten days and then begin a worldwide mission of evangelism. He cast his lot into the basket and witnessed as Matthias' name was drawn out, replacing Judas Iscariot and making "The Twelve" whole again.

He was there when the Holy Spirit came. The sound of wind and the light of the flames dazzled him, and then he joined the others as they preached to the crowds. Miraculously, the sounds that came out were not what they had planned. The miracle was that the people in the audience understood the message. It turned out that the strange sounds had been the languages of the crowd that had gathered for Pentecost exactly 50 days after the Resurrection.

After the death of the Apostle James and Deacon Stephen , the church was scattered, leaving only the apostles in Jerusalem. Years later, after Paul and Peter began to reach out to the world outside of Judea, many of the apostles followed suit, heading to the edge of the Roman Empire and beyond. Early church historians place Thomas in India, where he died after decades of ministering to strange peoples that perhaps had never heard of the people in the west.

Etymology

Thomas, from the Aramaic תאום, and his Greek "nickname" Δίδυμος, both mean "twin". Both words come from roots meaning double or twice. Such a name might have been a nickname in both Hebrew and Greek. If it were a nickname, it might indicate he was an respected disciple of John or Jesus who acted and sought to look like his master. If he actually had a sibling, his twin may have been better known than he, leaving him in the shadow of his brother as only the "Twin."

Verses

  1. John 11:7-16 (Link)
  2. John 20:24-29 (Link)

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