According to Saint John’s Gospel, one of the disciples doubted the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The identity of this disciple has been a topic of debate among scholars for centuries.
The Doubtful Disciple
In John 20:24-29, it is recorded that Thomas, also known as Didymus, was not present when Jesus first appeared to the other disciples after his resurrection. When Thomas returned and was told about what had happened, he famously declared that he would not believe unless he could see and touch Jesus’ wounds for himself.
Some scholars have argued that Thomas was not the only disciple who doubted the resurrection. In fact, they point out that earlier in John’s Gospel, after hearing about Lazarus’ death, it is recorded that some of the disciples expressed doubt about Jesus’ ability to raise him from the dead (John 11:1-16).
However, others argue that these doubts were different from Thomas’ doubt about Jesus’ resurrection. They suggest that while the other disciples may have been skeptical about Jesus’ power to perform miracles, they did not necessarily doubt his divinity or his ability to rise from the dead.
- Arguments for Thomas: Those who believe that Thomas was indeed the doubtful disciple point to several factors. Firstly, John’s Gospel specifically mentions him by name and records his declaration of disbelief.
Secondly, when Jesus appears to the disciples a second time and shows Thomas his wounds, he addresses him by name and tells him to “stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27), suggesting that Thomas was indeed struggling with doubt.
- Arguments against Thomas: On the other hand, some scholars argue that John’s Gospel portrays Thomas in a more positive light than is often assumed. For example, in John 11:16 when Jesus announces his intention to return to Judea (where the disciples had just narrowly escaped being stoned), it is Thomas who bravely declares, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” This suggests that Thomas was not lacking in faith or commitment to Jesus.
Regardless of whether Thomas was the only disciple who doubted the resurrection or not, his story holds significant lessons for Christians today. Firstly, it reminds us that doubt is a natural part of faith and that even those closest to Jesus sometimes struggled with their beliefs. Secondly, it demonstrates the importance of seeking answers and seeking Jesus for ourselves rather than relying solely on the testimony of others.
While scholars may continue to debate which disciple doubted the resurrection in Saint John’s Gospel, what is clear is that this story has enduring relevance for Christians today. Whether we are struggling with doubts or simply seeking a deeper understanding of our faith, we can look to Thomas as an example of someone who didn’t let his doubts hold him back from ultimately embracing the truth.