The Life of the Holy Apostle Thomas

The Holy Apostle Thomas was born in the Galilean city of Pansada and was a fisherman. Hearing the good tidings of the Jesus Christ, he left all and followed Him.

According to Holy Scripture, the Holy Apostle Thomas did not believe the reports of the other Disciples about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe" (St. John 20:25).

On the eighth day after the Resurrection, the Lord appeared to the Apostle Thomas and showed him His wounds, "My Lord and my God," the Apostle cried out (St. John 20:28). "Thomas, being once weaker in faith than the other apostles," says Saint John Chrysostom, "toiled through the grace of God more bravely, more zealously and tirelessly than them all, so that he went preaching over nearly all the earth, not fearing to proclaim the Logos/Word of God to savage nations."

Some icons depicting this event are inscribed "The Doubting Thomas." This is incorrect. In Greek, the inscription reads, "The Touching of Thomas." In Slavonic, it says, "The Belief of Thomas." When Saint Thomas touched the Life-Giving side of the Lord, he no longer had any doubts. What is more, in the English language, the nickname of "Doubting Thomas" can convey the false impression of Thomas as being timid, lacking the full conviction of faith, or even being cowardly; this concept of Thomas is neither historical nor Biblical, except in consideration of the vitality important moment in which Thomas touched the Resurrected Christ; the momentary sinful fluctuation in faith being spectacularly reversed through Divine Grace as an opportunity to validate the bodily Resurrection. In Saint John 11:16, Thomas expressed a desire to die with the Lord, in response to the other disciples' fear that the Pharisees would seek to kill Jesus should they re-enter Judea. The notion of Saint Thomas as wavering or pusillanimous in his faith can be further dispelled in light of the Church Holy Tradition regarding his evangelism, according to which, the Holy Apostle founded Christian Churches in Palestine, Mesopotamia, Parthia, Ethiopia and India. Church Holy Tradition also indicates that the Holy Apostle Thomas baptized the Magi.

Preaching the Holy Gospel earned the Holy Apostle Thomas a Martyr's death. For having converted the wife and son of the Prefect of the Indian city of Maliapur (Melipur) the Holy Apostle was locked up in prison, suffered torture, and finally, pierced with five spears, he departed to the Lord. Parts of his holy relics of the Holy Apostle Thomas are in India, in Hungary and on Mt. Athos. The name of the Holy Apostle Thomas is associated with the Arabian (or Arapet) Icon of the Mother of God (September 6th).

The Holy Apostle Thomas should therefore be considered not merely as "Doubting Thomas", but rather, as someone whose faith did waver at one crucial moment, yet through the Divine grace of Christ, this wavering was reversed into an opportunity for the demonstration of the actual bodily Resurrection of the Lord, and for the concomitant scriptural refutation of Docetism and the Gnostic heresy. The false association of Thomas with Gnostic heretical works is all the more extraordinary in light of the fact that heresy that lies at the heart of the works allegedly authored by St. Thomas. In addition to having been the instrument by which the Lord disproved that pernicious heresy, through a remarkable application of grace reversing a sin into a moment of Divine revelation, the Apostle Thomas should also be remembered as a Great Evangelist; just as Saints Peter and Paul made their way to Rome to evangelize the gentiles therein, and Saint Andrew the Apostle proceeded to the Northwest, Saint Thomas ventured East in order to spread the same Gospel of peace.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Feast. Tone II
You were a disciple of Christ And a member of the divine college of Apostles. Having been weak in faith you doubted the Resurrection of Christ. But by feeling the wounds you believed in His All-Pure Passion: Pray now to Him, O all-praised Thomas to grant us peace and great mercy.

Kontakion Hymn. Tone IV
Thomas, the faithful servant and disciple of Christ, Filled with Divine grace, cried out from the depth of his love: 'You are my Lord and my God!' (Source: Orthodox Church in America)

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