Thomas the Apostle of Jesus Christ

Learn how this disciple got the nickname 'Doubting Thomas'

Apostle Thomas in the Bible
'The Incredulity of Saint Thomas' by Caravaggio. Public Domain

Thomas was one of Jesus Christ's original twelve apostles, specially chosen to spread the gospel after the Lord's crucifixion and resurrection. The Bible also calls Thomas "Didymus" (John 11:16; 20:24). Both names mean "twin," although we aren't given the name of Thomas' twin in Scripture.

Two important stories paint a portrait of Thomas in the Gospel of John. One (in John 11) shows his courage and loyalty to Jesus, the other (in John 20) reveals his human struggle with doubt.

Key Verses: Thomas the Apostle

  • Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." (John 11:16, NIV)
  • Then he (Jesus) said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." (John 20:27)
  • Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28)
  • Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:29)

How the Apostle Got the Nickname 'Doubting Thomas'

The apostle Thomas was not present when the risen Jesus first appeared to the disciples. When told by the others, "We have seen the Lord," Thomas replied that he would not believe it unless he could actually touch Jesus' wounds. Jesus later presented himself to the apostles and invited Thomas to inspect his wounds.

Thomas was also present with the other disciples at the Sea of Galilee when Jesus appeared to them again.

Although it is not used in the Bible, the nickname "Doubting Thomas" was given to this disciple because of his disbelief about the resurrection. People who are skeptical are sometimes referred to as a "Doubting Thomas."

Apostle Thomas' Accomplishments

The Apostle Thomas traveled with Jesus and learned from him for three years. Church tradition holds that after Jesus resurrected and ascended to heaven, Thomas carried the gospel message to the east and was eventually martyred for his faith.

Because of Thomas, we have these inspiring words of Jesus: "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29, NKJV). Thomas’ lack of faith has served to encourage all future Christians who have not seen Jesus and yet have believed in him and his resurrection.

Thomas' Strengths

When Jesus' life was at risk by returning to Judea after Lazarus had died, the Apostle Thomas courageously told his fellow disciples they should go with Jesus, no matter what the danger.

Thomas was honest with Jesus and the disciples.

Thomas' Weaknesses

Like the other disciples, Thomas deserted Jesus during the crucifixion. Despite listening to Jesus' teaching and seeing all his miracles, Thomas demanded physical proof that Jesus had risen from the dead. His faith was based solely on what he could touch and see for himself.

Life Lessons

All of the disciples, except John, deserted Jesus at the cross. They misunderstood and doubted Jesus, but the Apostle Thomas is singled out in the gospels because he put his doubt into words.

It is worth noting that Jesus did not scold Thomas for his doubt. Instead of rebuking Thomas, he had compassion for his human struggle with doubt. In fact, Jesus invited Thomas to touch his wounds and see for himself. Jesus understands our battles with doubt and invites us to come near and believe.

Today, millions of people stubbornly want to witness miracles or see Jesus in person before they will believe in him, but God asks us to come to him in faith. God provides the Bible, with eyewitness accounts of Jesus' life, crucifixion, and resurrection to strengthen our faith.

In response to the Apostle Thomas' doubts, Jesus said that those who believe in Christ as Savior without seeing him—that's us—are blessed.



References to Thomas the Apostle in the Bible

In the synoptic Gospels (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15) Thomas appears only in the lists of the apostles, but in John's Gospel (John 11:16, 14:5, 20:24-28, 21:2), Thomas leaps to the forefront in two important narratives. He is also mentioned in Acts 1:13.


The Apostle Thomas' occupation before he met Jesus is unknown. After Jesus' ascension, he became a Christian missionary.

Family Tree

Thomas has two names in the New Testament. Thomas, in Greek, and Didymus, in Aramaic, both meaning "twin." Scripture does not give the name of his twin, nor any other information about his family tree.