UB David + I'll B Jonathan, Inc.


Used with permission: Character by Character compiled by Selwyn Hughes and Trevor Partridge. Copyright © CWR (www.cwr.org.uk).




Scripture passages referenced and linked in this lesson are written out for your convenience on this page.

UB David + I'll B Jonathan, Inc.


Character by Character

Lesson 12: Thomas


Scripture passages referenced and linked in this lesson are written out for your convenience on this page.

Thomas: "Twin"


Matthew 10:3 (click the link to read the passages)

he was chosen

“Thomas the Twin”, as he was known, was one of the twelve apostles. Nothing is known of his twin brother (or sister), and assuming that he or she was alive at the time the Gospels were written, it does not appear that this twin became a follower of Jesus. Commentators believe that Thomas must have been a man of independent judgment for him to break such a close filial relationship to become a disciple of Christ. Was he chosen because of his independence or in spite of it? We will never know – except that he was chosen.

Thomas appears to be a brave and zealous man with an enquiring mind. If he didn’t understand something, he did not hesitate to ask for an explanation.

For thought and contemplation:

Have you ever pondered as to why before the creation of the world (Eph. 1:4) the Lord chose you to be one of His present-day disciples? Was His choice based, as some believe, on the fact that He foresaw that you would accept Him—or, as others believe, on the fact that some are predestined to salvation and others not? What do you think?

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (1 Cor. 1:27, NIV)


John 11:16

Thomas’ declaration of loyalty is significant

We have already dwelt on the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead, but we return to this passage today to focus on the thoughts that were going on in Thomas’ heart as Jesus contemplated returning to Jerusalem. Remember, the Jews had earlier accused Christ of blasphemy (John 10:33) and had prepared to stone Him as prescribed by the law of Moses (Lev. 24:16). Despite the obvious ill feeling against Him that existed in some Jewish circles, Jesus decided to return to the Jerusalem area and visit Mary and Martha at their home in Bethany. Thomas’ declaration of loyalty is significant and quite moving: “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (NIV).

For thought and contemplation:

Isn’t it sad that we have picked out a bad patch in Thomas’s life and labelled the whole of it because of that one mistake? Yes, he displayed doubt, but he displayed loyalty too. Make a decision today to take off any ‘labels’ you may have attached to any of your friends and acquaintances.

“Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6, NIV)


John 14:5-6

Thomas strongly disagrees with this statement

Jesus has just been teaching His disciples about His imminent departure to heaven, promising that after He has prepared a place for them, He will return to take them to their heavenly home. One of the statements Jesus makes is this: “You know where I am going and how to get there” (v. 4, TLB). Thomas strongly disagrees with this statement, and says: “No, we don’t… We haven’t any idea where you are going, so how can we know the say?” Thomas doesn’t hesitate to challenge anything about which he is uncertain, and although some may regard his approach as rude or impertinent, obviously Jesus does not think so, for He responds to him by making His point clearer still: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life…”

For thought and contemplation:

Have you considered that if Thomas had not questioned Jesus’ statement here, we might never have had that beautiful description of Jesus being Himself the Way? Once again, the point is brought home—never be afraid to ask searching or probing questions.

“Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” (Col. 3:1, NIV)


John 20:24

Thomas was not with them when Jesus came!

Following Christ’s death and the apparent end of His ministry, the disciples became afraid of what the Jews might do to them, and so hid behind closed doors—petrified with fear. Suddenly, although the doors were locked and guarded against intruders, Jesus appeared in the midst of His disciples and greeted them with the words: “Peace be with you!” What a glorious revelation that must have been to those stunned and bewildered disciples—how it must have consoled their drooping spirits and elevated their faith. There is only one sad note to the story: Thomas was not with them when Jesus came!

For thought and contemplation:

Let your mind run over some of the reasons why Thomas missed that important meeting. Was it because he didn’t expect Jesus to be there? Was he disappointed with the other disciples? Was it because it was dangerous to be present? Or was the real reason that there was something wrong with himself?

“For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him.” (Psalm 62:5, RSV)

think what Thomas lost

“Old Father Morris”, says his American biographer, “had noticed a falling off in his little village meeting for prayer. The first time he collected a tolerable audience, he took occasion to tell them something concerning the meeting of the disciples after the resurrection. ‘But Thomas was not with them’, said the old man in a sorrowful voice. ‘Why, what could keep Thomas away? Perhaps’, he said, glancing at some of his audience, ‘Thomas had got cold-hearted, and was afraid that they would ask him to make the first prayer. Or perhaps’, he continued, looking at some of the farmers, ‘he was afraid the roads were bad. Or perhaps’, he added, after a pause, ‘he thought a shower was coming on.’ He went on summing up common excuses, and then he added, ‘But only think what Thomas lost, for in the middle of the meeting the Lord Jesus came and stood among them!’


John 20:25

Thomas confesses his doubts

When Thomas, who was absent from that first post-resurrection meeting of Christ and His disciples, is told the thrilling news that Jesus is alive, he is utterly bewildered. The disciples insist that they have seen the very scars which the nails made on Jesus’ body at the time of His crucifixion. Thomas, however, will not be swept off his feet by the testimony of others, and the independence of judgment we spoke of earlier comes again to the fore: “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it” (NIV). At least Thomas confesses his doubts—something many Christians are too ‘spiritual’ to do.

For thought and contemplation:

“Doubts”, said Neil Strand, “can be valuable if they are recognised and confessed… and if they force a man to search deeper and longer for answers.” So, although the point has been made before—don’t be afraid of doubts. For to pursue doubts is to discover some new and exciting beliefs.

“Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt… you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.’” (Matthew 21:21-22, NIV)


John 20:26

Although no clear explanation is given to us in Scripture as to why Thomas missed that first post-resurrection meeting with the Lord, he appears to have been committed to staying in close touch with his fellow disciples—despite his doubts. We should not overlook that characteristic of Thomas.

Put your finger here; see my hand

When next Jesus appears to the disciples, Thomas is present and experiences the wonder of seeing the risen Christ face to face. Jesus responds to Thomas’ plea for physical proof in the most gentle and non-judgmental manner: “Put your finger here; see my hand. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

For thought and contemplation:

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus did not reject Thomas’ attitude, but responded to it? How glad we should be that God accepts us as we are, not as He would like us to be. If He didn’t—we would be sunk!

“Immediately, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, ‘You of little faith’, he said, ‘why did you doubt?’” (Matthew 14:31, NIV)


John 20:27-29

My Lord and my God!

As Thomas’ doubts are removed by seeing for himself the physical evidence in Christ’s hands and side, the unbeliever suddenly leaps beyond the other disciples and cries: “My Lord and my God!” Up until this time, none of the disciples had actually addressed Jesus as God. They had called Him “Messiah”, “Son of God”, “Son of the living God”—but not “God”. This was probably one of the greatest and most revealing statements to have come from the group of disciples. And all the more significant because it came from a man who, up until the moment of seeing the physical evidence of Christ’s wounds, was a doubter and an unbeliever.

For thought and contemplation:

The person who is afraid to face or express doubts, who represses them instead of confessing them, is indeed a troubled person. Some of the biggest doubters have become the greatest disciples. Why? Because they brought their doubts to Jesus and let Him deal with them in the way that only He can.

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” (Psalm 118:8, NIV)

The lesson to be learned from Thomas

Scripture has turned a spotlight upon Thomas and his doubts

Multitudes of Christians have been grateful that the Scripture has turned a spotlight upon Thomas and his doubts. Those who have struggled with doubts—or perhaps still do—find great comfort in the fact that Thomas, the doubter among the disciples, came through to radiant conviction and great spiritual achievement.

Tradition claims that Thomas travelled to many countries preaching the Gospel, and finally landed in India where, after founding a church, he was martyred. We cannot be absolutely sure about this, but this is what many of the Early Church writers, such as Eusebius, believed. The main lesson of Thomas’ life is surely this: those who wrestle with doubts can, with Christ’s help, come through to a glorious certainty of faith and great spiritual effectiveness. Christ has great sympathy with those who cry to Him: “I believe; help my unbelief!”—and He will.

Used with permission: Character by Character compiled by Selwyn Hughes and Trevor Partridge. Copyright © CWR (www.cwr.org.uk).

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