St. Thomas The Apostle

A short description of the life of St. Thomas, Disciple (Apostle) of Christ and friend of Christ.

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the twelve disciples is believed to be the twin brother of Matthew. He was first called Jude the son of James and grandson of Alpheus. Some texts have stated that Thomas is the twin of James not Matthew, so little is truly known about Thomas. Didymus in the Greek means twin.

Thomas was given the nickname "doubting Thomas" because he was continually looking at the worst in all things. No matter what it was Thomas was able to find something wrong. After the death of Lazarus Jesus said He was going to Bethany. Since Bethany was so very close to Jerusalem it was thought that the religious leaders might find Him and kill Him. Thomas shows a very rare character for him by standing to the aide of Jesus and saying that the others should go with Jesus and be by His side.

"John 11:14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. 16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him."

Thomas misunderstood when Jesus spoke of His death and of His resurrection. Jesus used this misunderstanding though to teach a valuable lesson. From John 14:3-7 Jesus gives this teaching:

"John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him."

Thomas of course is most often remembered for his doubting and for having been missing from the Upper Room the time Jesus appeared to the disciples after the Resurrection. Thomas had difficultly in believing that Jesus had actually risen from the dead. When the others told Thomas about Jesus appearing to them, Thomas made this statement:

"John 20:24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, 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, I will not believe. 26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

Although Thomas was truly a doubter once he was given the fact and shown what it was he asked about his loyalty and dedication was unsurpassed by any. Once Thomas believed in something you could not persuade him differently. Thomas felt they would all die by following Jesus to Bethany but he insisted they all go to stand by the side of the one they loved and followed.

It is believed that Thomas preached in Persia, Parthia and also in India. Thomas was the one that helped build a palace in India and credited with the founding of Christianity in that country. Thomas is believed to be buried at Edessa and to have been killed with a spear. The spear and a builder's square are the symbols of Thomas.

As to the works of Thomas it seems his only writing was the Gospel of Thomas. This is a Gnostic Gospel and is not considered to be inspired by the majority of theological leaders, thus it is not included with the authorized King James Version of the Bible. This book of the Gospel is said to be entirely made up of the sayings of Jesus from a very early age onward. The words of Christ as a child, teen, and into young adult hood are said to be in this book and told as Thomas remembers them.

"I, Thomas the Israelite, tell unto you, even all the brethren that are of the Gentiles, to make known unto you the works of the childhood of our Lord Jesus Christ and his mighty deeds, even all that he did when he was born in our land: whereof the beginning is thus: This little child Jesus when he was five years old was playing at the ford of a brook: and he gathered together the waters that flowed there into pools, and made them straightway clean, and commanded them by his word alone. 2 And having made soft clay, he fashioned thereof twelve sparrows. And it was the Sabbath when he did these things (or made them). And there were also many other little children playing with him. 3 And a certain Jew when he saw what Jesus did, playing upon the Sabbath day, departed straightway and told his father Joseph: Lo, thy child is at the brook, and he hath taken clay and fashioned twelve little birds, and hath polluted the Sabbath day. 4 And Joseph came to the place and saw: and cried out to him, saying: Wherefore doest thou these things on the Sabbath, which it is not lawful to do? But Jesus clapped his hands together and cried out to the sparrows and said to them: Go! and the sparrows took their flight and went away chirping. 5 And when the Jews saw it they were amazed, and departed and told their chief men that which they had seen Jesus do. (Gospel of Thomas)"

The writings have similarity to the other Gospels yet add so much more insight to the childhood of Jesus they should not be totally overlooked. It is only because of their very late discovery date that they were never included in the original text of the Bible. This does not make them any less the words of Christ than the other Gospels. This document was found at Naj Hamadi in Egypt in 1945 and is believed to date back to c. A.D. 140.

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