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" in Word Study
| Thomas, Gospel Of
| Thorn in the Flesh
In Bible versions:
a man who was one of the twelve apostles also called on three occasions,
Thomas = "a twin"
1) one of the apostles
2381 Thomas tho-mas'
of Chaldee origin (compare 8380); the twin; Thomas, a
see HEBREW for 08380
twin, one of the twelve (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18, etc.). He was also called Didymus (John 11:16; 20:24), which is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name. All we know regarding him is recorded in the fourth Gospel (John 11:15, 16; 14:4, 5; 20:24, 25, 26-29). From the circumstance that in the lists of the apostles he is always mentioned along with Matthew, who was the son of Alphaeus (Mark 3:18), and that these two are always followed by James, who was also the son of Alphaeus, it has been supposed that these three, Matthew, Thomas, and James, were brothers.
called Didymus. One of the twelve apostles, Matt. 10:3
; Mark 3:18
; Luke 6:15
Present at the raising of Lazarus, John 11:16
Asks Jesus the way to the Father's house, John 14:5
Absent when Jesus first appeared to the disciples after the resurrection, John 20:24
Skepticism of, John 20:25
Sees Jesus after the resurrection, John 20:26-29
Dwells with the other apostles in Jerusalem, Acts 1:13
Loyalty of, to Jesus, John 11:16
), one of the apostles. According to Eusebius, his real name was Judas. This may have been a mere confusion with Thaddeus, who is mentioned in the extract. But it may also be that; Thomas was a surname. Out of this name has grown the tradition that he had a twin-sister, Lydia, or that he was a twin-brother of our Lord; which last, again, would confirm his identification with Judas. Comp. (Matthew 13:55
) He is said to have been born at Antioch. In the catalogue of the apostles he is coupled with Matthew in (Matthew 10:3
; Mark 3:18
; Luke 6:15
) and with Philip in (Acts 1:13
) All that we know of him is derived from the Gospel of St. John; and this amounts to three traits, which, however, so exactly agree together that, slight as they are they place his character before us with a precision which belongs to no other of the twelve apostles except Peter, John and Judas Iscariot. This character is that of a man slow to believe, seeing all the difficulties of a case, subject to despondency, viewing things on the darker side, yet full of ardent love of his Master. The latter trait was shown in his speech when our Lord determined to face the dangers that awaited him in Judea on his journey to Bethany. Thomas said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." (John 11:16
) His unbelief appeared in his question during the Last Supper: "Thomas saith unto him Lord we know not whither thou goest, and how can we: know the way?" (John 14:5
) It was the prosaic, incredulous doubt as to moving a step in the unseen future, and yet an eager inquiry as to how this step was to be taken. The first-named trait was seen after the resurrection. He was absent --possibly by accident, perhaps characteristically --from the first assembly when Jesus had appeared. The others told him what they had seen. He broke forth into an exclamation, the terms of which convey to us at once the vehemence of his doubt, and at the same time the vivid picture that his mind retained of his Master?s form as he had last seen him lifeless on the cross. (John 20:25
) On the eighth day he was with them st their gathering, perhaps in expectation of a recurrence of the visit of the previous week; and Jesus stood among them. He uttered the same salutation, "Peace be unto you;" and then turning to Thomas, as if this had been the special object of his appearance, uttered the words which convey as strongly the sense of condemnation and tender reproof as those of Thomas had shown the sense of hesitation and doubt. The effect on him was immediate. The conviction produced by the removal of his doubt became deeper and stronger than that of any of the other apostles. The words in which he expressed his belief contain a far higher assertion of his Master?s divine nature than is contained in any other expression used by apostolic lips--"My Lord and my God." The answer of our Lord sums up the moral of the whole narrative: "Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen me, and yet have-believed." (John 20:29
) In the New Testament we hear of Thomas only twice again, once on the Sea of Galilee with the seven disciples, where he is ranked next after Peter, (John 21:2
) and again in the assemblage of the apostles after the ascension. (Acts 1:13
) The earlier traditions, as believed in the fourth century, represent him as preaching in Parthia or Persia, and as finally buried at Edessa. The later traditions carry him farther east, His martyrdom whether in Persia or India, is said to have been occasioned by a lance, and is commemorated by the Latin Church on December 21 the Greek Church on October 6, and by the Indians on July 1.
- tom'-as (Thomas; ta'om, "a twin" (in plural only):
1. In the New Testament:
One of the Twelve Apostles. Thomas, who was also called "Didymus" or "the Twin" (compare Jn 11:16; 20:24; 21:2), is referred to in detail by the Gospel of John alone. His election to the Twelve is recorded in Mt 10:3; Mk 3:18; Lk 6:15; Acts 1:13. In Jn 11:1-54, when Jesus, despite imminent danger at the hands of hostile Jews, declared His intention of going to Bethany to heal Lazarus, Thomas alone opposed the other disciples who sought to dissuade Him, and protested, "Let us also go; that we may died with him" (Jn 11:16). On the eve of the Passion, Thomas put the question, "Lord, we know now whither thou goest; how know we the way?" (Jn 14:5). After the crucifixion, Thomas apparently severed his connection with the rest of the apostiles for a time, as he was not present when the risen Christ first appeared to them (compare Jn 20:24). But his subsequent conversation with them, while not convincing him of the truth of the resurrection--"except I shall see .... I will not believe" (Jn 20:25)--at least induced him to be among their number eight days afterward (Jn 20:26) in the upper room. There, having received the proofs for which he sought, he made the confession, "My Lord and my God" (Jn 20:28), and was reproved by Jesus for his previous unbelief: "Because thou hast seen me thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" (Jn 20:29). He was one of the disciples to whom Jesus manifested Himself during the fishing expedition at the Sea of Tiberias (Jn 21:1-11).
2. In Apocryphal Literature:
According to the "Genealogies of the Twelve Apostles" (compare Budge, The Contendings of the Apostles, II, 50), Thomas was of the house of Asher. The oldest accounts are to the effect that he died a natural death of (compare Clement of Alexandria iv.9, 71). Two fields are mentioned by apocryphal literature as the scene of Thomas' missionary labors. (1) According to origen, he preached in Parthia, the according to a Syrian legend he died at Edessa. The Agbar legend also indicates the connection of Thomas with Edessa. But Eusebius indicates it was Thaddaeus and not Thomas who preached there (see THADDAEUS). (2) Along with these are other sources identifying Thomas with India. Thus, "The Acts of Thomas" (see APOCRYPHAL ACTS, sec. B, V), a Gnostic work dating from the 2nd century, tells how when the world was partitioned out as a mission field among the disciples, India fell to "Judas Thomas, also called Didymus," and narrates his adventures on the way, his trials, missionary success, and death at the hands of Misdai, king of India (compare Budge, II, 404 ff; Hennecke, Neutestamentliche Apokryphen, 473-544; Pick, The Apocryphal Acts, 224 ff). The "Preaching of Thomas" (compare Budge, II, 319) relates still more fantastic adventures of Thomas in India, and the "Martyrdom of Thomas in India" states that on his departure toward Macedonia he was put to death as a sorcerer.
Of the two, the former is the more probable. An attempt at reconciliation has been made by supposing that the relics of Thomas were transported from India to Edessa, but this is based on inaccurate historical information (compare Hennecke, op. cit., 474). The additional names "Judas" and "Didymus" have causd further confusion in apocryphal literature in regard to Thomas, and have led to his identification with Judas of James, and hence, with Thaddaeus (see THADDAEUS), and also with Judas the brother of Jesus (compare Mt 13:55). Thus in the "Acts of Thomas" he is twice called the "twin brother of the Messiah." Another legend makes Lysia the twin sister of Thomas. A Gnostic "Gospel of Thomas" (see APOCRYPHAL GOSPELS, III, 2, (a)) was known to Irenaeus (compare Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., 1,20).
Although little is recorded of Thomas in the Gospels, he is yet one of the most fascinating of the apostles. He is typical of that nature--a nature by no means rare--which contains within it certain conflicting elements exceedingly difficult of reconciliation. Possessed of little natural buoyancy of spirit, and inclined to look upon life with the eyes of gloom or despondency, Thomas was yet a man of indomitable courage and entire unselfishness. Thus with a perplexed faith in the teaching of Jesus was mingled a sincere love for Jesus the teacher. In the incident of Christ's departure for Bethany, his devotion to his Master proved stronger than his fear of death. Thus far, in a situation demanding immediate action, the faith of Thomas triumphed; but when it came into conflict with his standards of belief it was put to a harder test. For Thomas desired to test all truth by the evidence of his senses, and in this, coupled with a mind tenacious both of its beliefs and disbeliefs, lay the real source of his religious difficulties. It was his sincerity which made him to stand aloof from the rest of the disciples till he had attained to personal conviction regarding the resurrection; but his sincerity also drew from him the testimony to that conviction, "My Lord and my God," the greatest and fullest in all Christianity.
C. M. Kerr
Also see definition of "Thomas
" in Word Study