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Thomas was a doubting apostle. Thomas best known for his doubting tendencies, but the disciple of Jesus also known as Didymus was capable of demonstrating courage and resolve, too. When his friend Lazarus died, Jesus set out for Bethany, near Jerusalem—not to pay His last respects, but to raise Lazarus from the dead. However, doing so meant walking straight into His enemies’ lair.
The disciples were aware of the dangers. Jesus had already alluded to His death (John 10:15), and of course they were not blind to opposition of the religious leaders. They knew going to Bethany was risky. Yet Thomas alone spoke in favor of Jesus’ plan, saying that if their Master was going to die, the rest of them may as well die with Him.
This episode of courage is overshadowed by Thomas’s infamous display of doubt following the resurrection of Jesus. Thomas had been away when Jesus first appeared to the disciples. Upon hearing the news, he refused to believe it—until Jesus appeared yet again, astonishing the skeptical disciple.
It is easy to judge Thomas harshly. However, to do so is to forget that bodily resurrections were not exactly an everyday occurrence in the first century. Even the fact that Thomas had seen his Master raise others from the dead could have been forgotten easily in the grief and confusion that followed Jesus’ crucifixion.Thomas was not condemned by Jesus, nor was his belief rejected.
Nevertheless, the risen Lord used the occasion to bless those who would believe in Him even without seeing. There are competing accounts of Thomas’s life following the resurrection of Jesus. According to one tradition, he ventured as far as India.
However, the early church theologian Origen wrote that Thomas brought the gospel to Parthia, which included parts of present-day Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. He is said to have died in Edessa, present-day Turkey. Whatever his contribution to the spread of Christianity may have been, Thomas was almost certainly a part of it. After all, he was present with the other disciples after Jesus ascended to heaven (see Acts 1:13).