The UK Bible Students Website
All Scripture references are the King James Version, unless indicated otherwise.
Question: Explain the words of Thomas in John 20: 28:
Answer: This occasion was the second appearance of the risen Jesus to the disciples sequestered in a locked room. A few days previous, when Jesus had shown Himself to His disciples, Thomas was absent (John 20: 19-24). When the disciples related to him what had happened (v. 25), Thomas did not believe them. The narrative that pertains to our question begins with v. 26:
‘And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered [responded] and said unto him, My Lord and my God.’ [emphasis added.]
The group of disciples whom Jesus selected comprised different personalities. Thomas was a doubter. There is nothing wrong with being a doubter, for doubt prompts one to look for answers. Evidently disheartened by the crucifixion of Jesus, Thomas would not be easily persuaded that the Master had, in fact, been raised from the dead, no matter what his fellow-disciples said. But when he saw Jesus with his own eyes, his doubts dispersed immediately. In the ecstasy of his conviction he uttered the words ‘My Lord and my God’. The Greek text uses the standard words kurios (‘Lord’) and theos (‘God’).
We often assume although we are not told that Thomas was kneeling when he spoke these words, and that they were an exclamation of praise. Were Thomas to touch the wounds in the Master’s hands and side, one might expect that he would examine His feet also, thus putting him on his knees. Regardless of this assumption, Thomas in his words pronounces the surrender of his mind and heart and soul to the Lord Jesus, all doubts gone.
Thus, it is a potent text in support of that doctrine, the assertion being that Thomas spoke under Divine revelation to testify to the truth that Jesus is God.
Mary Magdalene uses the same expression, ‘my Lord’, in her address to the angel: ‘they have taken away my Lord [kurios; ‘the Lord of me’], and I know not where they have laid him’. This is recorded in John 20: 13, the same chapter which contains our query text. Turning away, she encounters a man she assumes to be the gardener. It is Jesus. In response to her greeting He says (v. 17):
In His reply Jesus affirms the relationship between Himself and God, and also the separateness my Father, my God; and the relationship between the believer and God your Father, your God. This is consistent with His previous statements on the subject. (John 14: 28; and see the various Q&A’s on our site.)
The similar expression used by Thomas, ‘my God’, should not therefore be taken to mean that Thomas thought Jesus is God the Father. Just as Thomas had hitherto doubted that Jesus had risen from the dead, so now, in a sudden and spectacular reversal, he pours out his heart and pledges his unreserved commitment to his Master (kurios) and his adoration of Him (the object of his worship, theos).
On a related note, the words of Thomas are incidentally and mildly prophetic. Jesus was now raised from the dead to the Divine nature, but was not yet lifted in glory to the right hand of the Father. In that exalted position, which He now occupies, He is given by the Father the power and authority to function like God Himself (Matthew 28: 18). As the Vicegerent of the Almighty, Christ Jesus will assume the rulership of earth in the Kingdom on earth and be the ‘mighty God’ and the ‘everlasting Father’; Isaiah 9: 6).
Copyright December 2010 ukbiblestudents.co.uk
You are free to reproduce this article, but please let us know if you do.