Thomas: the Honest Sceptic
John 20:24-29
But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.…

Renan, in the fiction which he calls "The life of Jesus," when he treats of the resurrection of our Lord, breaks out into a rhapsody utterly unworthy of the critic and historian, "Oh, Divine power of level sacred moments when the passion of a deluded woman gives to the world a God raised from the dead." The Church is prepared to prove that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the best authenticated facts in the world's history. The witnesses of the resurrection include every variety of tempera. ment and intellect.


1. His was not the doubt of vanity. The superficial frivolous nature, proud of doubts as if they were signs of intellectual superiority, is too frequently to be met with.

2. His was not the doubt of hostility. Many who doubt dislike the truths which they doubt. But Thomas was heart-broken over the loss of Jesus. Some have nothing but sweeping denunciation for every kind of doubt or even of inquiry concerning truth. Christianity courts inquiry, commands it. The moral earnestness developed by Christianity necessitates it.Elements that cannot be praised were, however, present in the doubt of Thomas.

1. It was self-willed. As if mentally dwelling upon revelations said to have been granted to others he lays down rigid requirements, and declares nothing else shall satisfy him.

2. It was irrational. What was the nature of the testimony he refused to accept? And yet whilst the testimony of ten tried apostles and several godly women goes for nothing, his own ten fingers are to be all-decisive. Was there no other way in which assurance of a risen Christ could take possession of his heart, no higher way of spiritual illumination? Are our senses our only medium of certainty? God's highest revelations are by His Spirit to man's spirit.


1. Jesus let him for a while taste the bitterness of his doubts. Men are often permitted to drink deeply of the bitter cup which they have wilfully made their own. Thus God tests them. Nothing more perfectly reveals the moral character of a doubter than the instinctive tendencies of his mind during his mental conflicts. Christian and Pliable both fell into the Slough of Despond. Pliable struggled to the side nearest the City of Destruction, but Christian with infinite toil reached the side nearest the Celestial City. Though differing in opinion from his brother disciples, all his sympathies were with their sincerity and goodness.

2. Jesus was full of forbearance towards him.

3. Jesus deeply humbled him — "Then said He to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger," &c. Surely no severer rebuke can be given than amidst the joys of full conviction to be recalled to the lowborn doubts of His less noble self.

4. Jesus warned him of his danger — "Become not faithless, but believing." There is danger to all who doubt that the finer sensibilities of their nature be injured, that their spirit grow harsh and cold, and out of harmony with moral truth.

5. Jesus declares that there is another, a higher way to certainty than that by which Thomas has reached it.

III. THE RESULT OF THE LORD'S TREATMENT. See in Thomas the submission of a sincere soul.

1. Thomas instantly yielded. The moment of conviction became the moment of submission.

2. Thomas publicly yielded. Before all the disciples he had spoken his doubts; before all he retracted.

3. Thomas fully yielded. The honest inquirer convinced becomes the earnest and intelligent believer. As the corn that lies in the earth all through the winter months yields the most bountiful harvest, so the faith of Thomas slowly germinating amidst long, sorrowful musings becomes perfectly developed. The tardy believer becomes the foremost confessor.

(W. J. Cooke.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

WEB: But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, wasn't with them when Jesus came.

Thomas Doubting
Top of Page
Top of Page