We’ve all heard about how Thomas was the skeptic in the group, but the Bible gives us a little more information on the apostle Thomas than this:
The apostle Thomas: the infographic
Quick facts on the apostle Thomas
- His nickname is Didymus (the twin). We don’t really know why he’s called this. He could have been a twin, he could have born a strong physical resemblance to Jesus, or it could have been the name he went by in Greek-speaking communities.The apocryphal Acts of Thomas suggests that Thomas is actually Jesus’ twin, but that would create a few big theological problems concerning Jesus’ conception and incarnation process.
- Thomas is mentioned in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts as one of the twelve (Mt 10:3; Mk 3:18; Lk 6:15; Ac 1:13), but that’s all these accounts say about him. The Gospel of John, however, gives Thomas a larger role in the story.
- Thomas is the original “Doubting Thomas.” When the other disciples tell him Jesus is risen, Thomas dismisses the idea. He won’t believe Jesus is alive unless he can physically see the nail and spear wounds in Jesus’ body (Jn 20:24–25).
- When Jesus grants Thomas the evidence he wants, Thomas exclaims, “My Lord and my God!” This is an important line in the book of John: the story of Thomas show us that Jesus’ resurrection proves His divinity. This is what Jesus expects His followers to believe about Him (Jn 20:26–29).
- Thomas sets Jesus up for the memorable “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” line (Jn 14:5–6).
- Don’t let the “Doubting Thomas” story fool you: Thomas shows a lot of bravery and leadership at one point in John’s gospel. When Jesus heads to Judea (where the Jews are seeking to kill Him), Thomas says to the other disciples, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him” (Jn 11:16).
- Thomas is one of the six apostles whom Jesus visits at the sea of Galilee after His resurrection (Jn 21:2–3).
- When Luke lists the twelve, he couples Thomas with Matthew in his Gospel, and with Philip in the book of Acts (Lk 6:15; Ac 1:13). It’s possible that Thomas worked closely with these two apostles.
- According to tradition, Thomas takes the gospel to India, where he is martyred by spear. Jesus’ spear wounds were the evidence Thomas needed to believe, but Thomas’ spear wounds are the evidence of his faith.
Meet the rest of the apostles
Want to learn more about the apostles? Check out our complete guide to the 12 apostles.
- Raymond F. Collins, “Thomas (Person),” ed. David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 528.
- Aaron K. Tresham, “Thomas the Apostle,” ed. John D. Barry and Lazarus Wentz, The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012).