Thomas by James R. Coggins

John 11:16 mentions the apostle “Thomas (also known as Didymus).” He is commonly called “Doubting Thomas,” but the Bible never calls him that. He did not believe the other apostles when they told him that Jesus had risen from the dead (John 20:25). But we should remember that those other apostles did not believe when the women told them (Luke 24:11). “Thomas” means “twin” in Aramaic, the common language in Palestine, and “Didymus” means “twin” in Greek. The name most likely indicates that he was a twin, not that he was double-minded as some have suggested.

Thomas should also not be accused of being unfaithful. In John 11, Jesus talked about returning to Judea, where some of the local Jews had threatened to stone Jesus (John 10:31-39). Thomas did not even consider the possibility that Jesus might raise Lazarus from the dead. Thomas calculated that Jesus would likely be killed. But Thomas was willing to go and die with Jesus, saying, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16 NIV).

In John 14, Jesus talked about His death and resurrection and the promise of heaven. Thomas received none of the comfort Jesus was offering. He heard only the part about separation from Jesus and the remoteness of heaven. He said, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). He did not accept possibilities that he could not see.

In John 20:24-29, when the other apostles told Thomas that Jesus had been resurrected, he refused to believe it until he could see for himself.

Thomas was not unfaithful, and he did not doubt who Jesus was. But he was a fatalist and a pessimist. He found it easier to believe in death than life, easier to believe in suffering than blessing. He was ready to die with Christ but found it harder to believe that he could also live and reign with Christ. Many modern Christians are like Thomas. Sometimes God leads us down paths of suffering and testing. Sometimes He showers us with blessings and miracles. Most Christians experience both extremes at various times. We do not know what will come our way, but we should be ready for both possibilities. Like Thomas, we should be ready to faithfully suffer and die with Christ if that is our path. Unlike Thomas, we should also be ready to joyfully accept God’s blessings and thank Him for them.

About jrcoggins

James R. Coggins is a professional writer and editor based in British Columbia, Canada. He wrote his first novel in high school, but, fortunately for his later reputation as a writer, it was never published. He briefly served as a Christian magazine editor (for just over 20 years). He has written everything from scholarly and encyclopedia articles to jokes in Reader’s Digest (the jokes paid better). His six and a half published books include four John Smyth murder mysteries and one other, stand-alone novel. In his spare time, he operates Mill Lake Books, a small publishing imprint. His website is
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