Do you want to know the important lessons you can learn from the life of the Apostle Thomas? If yes, you came to the right place. Join us now as we take a deep dive into the life of Thomas and discover how to become a disciple of Christ!
The Apostle Thomas is best known by his title, “doubting Thomas”. However, if we look closer into his life, there is more to learn from his story than his first encounter with the resurrected Christ. In this post, discover the 5 best lessons we can learn from the life of the Apostle Thomas.
Who is the Apostle Thomas?
The Apostle Thomas is one of the original twelve disciples of Yahshua the Messiah or popularly known as Jesus Christ. Much of what we know about Thomas is written in the Gospel of John. Thus, is not surprising to see that there are different theories revolving his true identity.
The name Thomas means a twin. In John’s writing, Thomas is also called Didymus, which is a Greek equivalent of his Hebrew name. Some Bible scholars suggest that Thomas is a brother of Matthew and James, the son of Alphaeus. Others suggest that his real name is Judas and Thomas is just his surname, which makes him a brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:55).
When it comes to his birthplace, it was said that he was born in Galilee to a humble family. It was also believed that his apostolic mission was centered more in India where he was also killed around 72 AD.
Some scholars postulate that after Christ’s crucifixion, Thomas separated from the rest of the disciples, which explains why he was absent during the first appearance of Christ to the group.
While there might be a lot of speculations about Thomas, for the purpose of this article, let us stick to what the Bible clearly reveals.
With that being said, here are the five lessons we can learn from the life of Thomas.
Lesson no. 1: We must be loyal to God unto death
Most people don’t know it but Thomas was a loyal disciple of Christ who is willing to die for him. When Lazarus passed away, Jesus decided to go back to Judea. At this time, Jesus is already a wanted man and the Jews want to kill Him. Going to Judea was surely a suicide mission.
Thus, we read the response of the apostles in John 11:8:
“Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?”
However, Jesus Christ was determined to go back to Judea and perform one of the greatest miracles he would ever perform – bringing a dead person back to life.
Christ said in verse 14 and 15:
“Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.”
Here is where the courage of Thomas manifested in verse 16:
Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”
Some commentators believed that the “Him” in Thomas’ response refer to Lazarus, indicating that he is hopeless and just being sarcastic.
However, personally, I would say that the “Him” here refers to Christ. Thomas believed at this time that if Christ will die, it would be the end of it all. Since he doubts that Christ will ever be resurrected, his mind is set to die with their Master once and for all. If they die, they die with Jesus.
While the statement of Thomas might be something that signals his lack of understanding and faith, it still shows his loyalty to Christ. He is more than willing to die for Jesus and this has also been a motivation to other disciples who heard him.
Notice Thomas statement, “Let US go.” He didn’t say, “I will go.” Thomas’ desire is that other disciples would also do the same. He wants his fellow disciples to have the same frame of mind.
Thomas has answered Christ invitation, “Follow Me.” Now, he is ready to act upon that invitation to the point of death. He is ready to die with Christ and this desire comes from his strong affection to his Master.
As Christians, we need to make sure that we are also ready to die for Christ if the situation calls for it. Time will come when being a Christian would be difficult. In other parts of the world, Christians are already being killed because of their belief.
Following Christ does not only mean to die for him but also to live for him. [Click to tweet!]
We are urged by the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:1:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a LIVING sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
When we decided to follow God, it means that we must also be ready to forsake everything, including our life.
Lesson no. 2: We must be willing to be taught
As Christians, we must recognize the need to learn and be taught by God. Sometimes, because of pride, we think that we know enough and thus, we couldn’t see the need to learn anymore.
Here’s the truth: as long as we live, there’s no end to learning. In fact, in my life, I could personally say that the more I study, the more I realize how little I know. A lifetime is not even enough to completely study God’s word. There are just so many golden nuggets in the Word of God and it is up to us to find them.
The Apostle Thomas recognizes the need to learn further. Christ was teaching his disciples about a place He is preparing for them. We read in John 14:1-4:
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
In verse 5, we read Thomas’ response:
“Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
Christ’s responded, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Sometimes, it takes courage to admit your ignorance. [Click to tweet!]
Because of pride, we refuse to learn.
In this situation, though it is a sign of ignorance, Thomas nevertheless asked Christ for clarification of His earlier statement.
For us to learn, we must not be afraid to ask questions. Like Thomas, it is better to be ignorant for a few minutes and ask questions rather than not ask a question at all and be ignorant forever. [Click to tweet!]
Another important ingredient to learning is getting rid of our pre-conceived bias, prejudice, and ideas. One of the main reasons that Thomas didn’t understand what Jesus was saying is that they have a pre-conceived notion that the Messiah will be reign during their lifetime.
They expected that the Messiah will be a conquering King who would deliver the Jewish nation from the clutches of the Roman Empire and restore its glorious days.
Thus, they didn’t understand why Christ will have to go far and prepare a place for them. For Thomas and the disciples, they are going to reign now and don’t have to wait for a long time.
So, if you want to learn, be humble, don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know the answer, and finally, get rid of pre-conceived ideas and be open to new truths!
Lesson no. 3: You must believe and don’t doubt
Now, we come to the story where Thomas was made more popular. It was the time when he first saw the resurrected Christ.
We read in John 20:24-25:
Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples, therefore, said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
We don’t know the exact reason why Thomas wasn’t part of the group when Yahshua came. Because of this, he doubted their report that they have seen Christ.
He responded in verse 25:
So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
For Thomas, he wanted more proof. He doesn’t want to simply hear their report. If it is proof that he needs, then it is proof he will get.
We read in verses 26:28:
And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
The Bible told us to prove all things. However, Thomas, who has been with Jesus for more than three years should have already proven to himself that Christ will not remain in the grave but rather be resurrected on the third day!
Thomas, instead of believing, he doubted his fellow disciple as well as the words of Christ. He got the proof that he needed and thus, he believed.
Nevertheless, Christ has this to say in verse 29:
“Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
For us Christians, it is not “to see is to believe”, but rather “to believe is to see.” [Click to tweet!]
That’s what we call faith:
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
Faith is the EVIDENCE – the proof – of things that are not seen. If Thomas could have been more faithful, he doesn’t need the proof of seeing Christ personally. By the mere report of the other disciples, he should have already believed!
Thankfully, Thomas eventually grew in faith. After witnessing the irrefutable proof of Christ’s resurrection and receiving the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, he became as courageous and zealous as the rest of the disciples. He became an instrumental leader in the church and has helped in spreading the Gospel.
As Christians today, it is true that to doubt is easier than to believe and have faith. However, as long as we stay close to God, remember His promises, and follow His will in our lives, there’s no reason for us to doubt.
The resurrection of Christ is the ultimate proof of what He says He is. He is truly the Son of the Living God and His sacrifice enabled us to receive the Holy Spirit and have the potential to be part of God’s future Kingdom.
Lesson no. 4: We must continue doing the work
After Christ’s death, it seems that all hope is gone. Many of the disciples and followers of Christ went back to their old occupation. They stopped doing the work of God.
However, after Jesus’ resurrection and the confirmation that He is indeed the Messiah, many of His followers had a renewed zeal and dedication to do God’s work. Among them is Thomas.
We read in Acts 1:13-14:
And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
We read from this passage that Thomas didn’t stop following Christ. Along with other disciples, they all continued in prayer and supplication. They have been preparing to do God’s work and now, they are ready to perform the commission Christ gave them.
For us, Christians, we must not forget that the greatest work on the face of the planet is not our earthly jobs, but rather it is the preaching of the Gospel. [Click to tweet!]
(Please be sure to read, “10 Most Effective Ways to Preach the Gospel Today.”)
Like Christ, our daily spiritual bread should be doing the work of God. We must not let any day pass by without doing anything to preach the Gospel. It should be a top priority for us since by preaching the Gospel, we are also hastening the return of Christ.
Lesson no. 5: A moment of weakness should not define us
The life of the Apostle Thomas is just filled with a lot of lessons. He is truly a doubter who became a man of faith. Once he felt the wounds of Christ, all doubts and reservation of the Apostle Thomas quickly vanished. He was quick to exclaim, “My Lord and my God!”
Now, it is true that most people remember Thomas as the doubting Thomas. We must also remember that this is the same Thomas who exclaimed, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”
After saying those brave words, we could have also said, “Courageous Thomas.” However, the “Doubting Thomas” stuck more easily in the minds of many people.
Of course, let us not also forget that Thomas is among the disciples who deserted Christ during His darkest hour. The courage that Thomas once had were all erased by the thought of lashing, whipping, and torturing of Christ.
The best thing about all of these is that you don’t have to let the moment of your weakness define your life. Like Thomas, he might have failed a lot of times during his time with Christ, but he certainly made great improvement after he has confirmed the resurrection of the Messiah.
Through God’s mercy and goodness, we are not consumed when we commit mistakes and sin. We can always turn to God, ask for His forgiveness, and change our ways.
Perhaps, you have made a great mistake today. But don’t worry, you have a choice to stand on your feet, dust off the dirt, and continue your walk with God. [Click to tweet!]
Thankfully, God does not take snapshots of our lives and base his judgment on those. Rather, he takes a motion picture, where he takes into consideration not just what we were, but also what we can become, from beginning to finish.
What are the lessons you learn from the Apostle Thomas?
These are just some of the best lessons from the life of the Apostle Thomas, which I can share with you today. I hope we learn a lot from his life.
Thomas is just like most of us – weak, faithless, and pessimistic. However, with God’s help, Thomas transformed his life and become a great instrument in the hands of His Maker. In the same manner, no matter who you are, you can also make a positive change in your life and be like Thomas.
How about you? Do you have any lesson you want to share with us? Did I miss anything? Let us know by leaving a comment below. Share this blog to your friends and family if it has blessed you.