An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Thomas the Apostle, Saint

Also called Didymus, the twin, Thomas is identified as an apostle in all the lists of the apostles (Mt 10:3, Mk 3:18, Lk 6:15, Acts 1:13), and he has an important role in John's gospel. Thomas boldly urges his fellow disciples to go with Jesus to Bethany in Judea, despite the dangers they will face. Thomas says, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (Jn 11:16). At the Last Supper, Thomas tells Jesus that he does not know where Jesus is going, and asks, “How can we know the way?” (Jn 14:5). Thomas was absent at the time of Jesus' first appearance to the disciples after the resurrection. Thomas did not believe the other disciples when they told him they had seen the Lord. He has been known as “doubting Thomas” because of his disbelief that Jesus had appeared to the disciples. Thomas needed proof to believe. He did believe when Jesus appeared to him and the other disciples a week later. Thomas responds to Jesus' appearance by clearly proclaiming his faith, “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28). Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (Jn 20:29). Several apocryphal works have been attributed to Thomas, including the Gospel of Thomas. He is associated with the Christian mission to Parthia and India. Thomas's willingness to express his doubts and his faith in Jesus has provided a helpful example for many Christians. The BCP collect for Saint Thomas the Apostle prays that “our faith may never be found wanting” (BCP, p. 237). His life is commemorated on Dec. 21 in the Episcopal calendar of the church year.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.