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Was Thomas Wrong in John 20:28?

When Apostle Thomas said to Jesus “My Lord and my God!” in John 20:28, was he proclaiming Jesus to be God? Was he wrong, or was he right?


Was Thomas Wrong in John 20:28?

Brother Bob Pellien: Thomas, often referred to as “Doubting Thomas,” took one look at the resurrected Jesus and said “My Lord and My God”, and that’s recorded in John 20:28. Dear friends, was he wrong, or was he right? 

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Brother Bob: The Bible, the basis of our faith in the Church Of Christ, which answers questions about proper worship, the right relationship with God, and most importantly, salvation. That’s in the Bible!

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Brother Bob Pellien

Minister of the Gospel

Brother Bob: I’m Bob Pellien, and welcome to the program That’s in the Bible. We received a comment on YouTube from a viewer making the argument that Jesus is God, specifically referencing that verse John 20:28. Here’s his comment:

You forgot what St. Thomas said, ‘My Lord and my God.’ Did anyone complain, or stop, or correct St. Thomas? Even our Savior didn’t correct or deny what St. Thomas said. But rather, the Lord said, ‘You believe because you saw Me. Blessed are those who did not see and yet believe.’”

That came from Jonathan. Well, thank you, Jonathan, for your comment and the opportunity here today to clear this up for you. Let’s frame our topic of discussion around these sub-questions:

  1. Why did Apostle Thomas say to Jesus, “My Lord and My God”? 
  2. Was Apostle Thomas the only one who made this assumption?
  3. Is it true that Jesus Christ did not correct Apostle Thomas and the other apostles?
  4. What did Jesus Christ teach to Thomas and to all His disciples regarding the difference between God and Himself? 

Well, the verse that Jonathan referenced is recorded in the writings of the Apostle John, as I mentioned, in John 20:28. Let’s go ahead and take a look at the verse. You’ll be able to see it there on the screen. John 20:28 reads this way. 

And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

[John 20:28 New King James Version]

Brother Bob: So, dear friends, why did Thomas react this way? Why did he say such a thing to Jesus after seeing Him? You have to remember, they had all witnessed, they knew, Jesus had been crucified. They saw Him die there on the cross. Yet, here He was standing there, right in front of them. It’s important at this point that we read the verses prior to Thomas’s reaction, which is at the core of our discussion, right? Let’s do that, back up to verse 24, same chapter:

One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (called the Twin), was not with them when Jesus came.

[John 20:24 Good News Bible]

Brother Bob: So, let’s pause here for a second, dear friends. Wait a minute. We can see here that Jesus had already appeared to some of His disciples, prior to this moment. But what else can we notice? Thomas was not among them at the time. So, when Thomas finally saw Jesus after His resurrection it was already the second time that Jesus had shown Himself to them. Considering that, let’s continue verse 25:

So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the scars of the nails in his hands and put my finger on those scars and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

[John 20:25 Good News Bible] 

Brother Bob: So, we can see the mindset, or the way of thinking, that Thomas had and is recorded here in this verse. Thomas did not believe that Christ was resurrected back to life. What happened when Christ appeared again to the disciples, this time with Thomas, present? Let’s continue, verse 26 and 27. 

A week later the disciples were together again indoors, and Thomas was with them. The doors were locked, but Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then reach out your hand and put it in my side. Stop your doubting, and believe!”

[John 20:26-27 Good News Bible] 

Brother Bob: So, after Jesus showed the doubting Thomas He was really there, or truly resurrected from the dead, what then was the reaction of Thomas? In verse 20:28:

Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

[John 20:28 Good News Bible] 

Brother Bob: So, dear friends, after learning the context, or the full situation, we can understand the startled reaction of Thomas. In this verse we just read, Thomas is not preaching that Jesus Christ is God, as if that is what Christ had taught him. But rather, he said it from his shocking amazement that Jesus is there, standing in front of them alive again. 

But the vital question here, dear viewers, is simply this: Was Thomas even correct in saying that, “My Lord and my God” when referring to Jesus? He was not. Why are we certain? First of all, was Thomas the only one who made such a wrong conclusion when they saw the resurrected Jesus? No. What’s the proof? Let’s turn to the Book of Luke, chapter 24, verse 33, where here the Apostle Luke, he wrote about the same incident from his vantage point. He wrote in 24:33 the following:

So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together,

[Luke 24:33 New King James Version]

Brother Bob: Let’s pause again. Here, we can see that in this gathering where Jesus showed Himself to His disciples, all the other apostles were present. Now, did the other disciples react any differently from Thomas? Let’s continue in verse 36 and 37:

Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit.

[Luke 24:36-37 New King James Version]

Brother Bob: Friends, according to the Bible here, the writings of Apostle Luke, it was not only Apostle Thomas that was startled but the others as well. The Bible said that “they were terrified and frightened.” What did they suppose they were seeing? As we read here, they supposed that they had seen a spirit. 

We can see that the other disciples had the same kind of reaction as Apostle Thomas. Why can we firmly say that they had the same reaction? Because Jesus already had taught His disciples about the nature of the true God, and that was recorded back in John 4:24, where He taught them that God is Spirit. 

The mere fact, this is important dear friends, the mere fact that they think that Christ is a spirit, God is a spirit, so they jumped to that sort of equivalency, they jumped to the conclusion, therefore, Christ is God. And that’s incorrect. It was the same big mistake that Apostle Thomas made by calling Jesus God.

The commenter on YouTube said Jesus Christ didn’t correct Thomas. But is that true? Did Jesus correct Thomas and, in fact, correct all the disciples from thinking that He is God or a spirit? What we need only to do is to continue reading the answers and clarifications from the Holy Bible. Verse 38 and 39, same chapter, Luke 24:

And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?  Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”

[Luke 24:38-39 New King James Version] 

Brother Bob: Jesus points out here, dear friends, the doubt that was in their hearts. What did he ask them? He asked them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?” 

But the argument of some people is, for example Jonathan and his comment on YouTube that began our discussion, their comment is that Christ did not correct them, because they cannot read in the very next verse that Christ issued an immediate correction there. So, they jumped to the conclusion that, therefore, Jesus accepted the statement of Thomas. 

We would like to make very clear, right here, that Jesus, in fact, did correct Thomas, and the rest of the disciples for that matter, who made the wrong assumption of Him. Although the correction was not recorded in the writings of Apostle John, Apostle Luke recorded the same event, and shows us Christ’s response to all those who made such wrong assumptions about Him. 

Again, how did Jesus correct Thomas, and the others, when they jumped to the wrong conclusion that Jesus was a spirit or therefore God? Did Jesus allow them to think that way, or did He correct them? What did He say? As we read, He said, “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit,” and as He clarified, God is a spirit, “a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”

He corrected Thomas, He corrected the other disciples. How did he do that? He made the clear distinction between Himself and God, who is a spirit. Having already taught them that God is spirit, Christ proved that’s not what He is by telling the apostles, he said come on, handle me, touch me, you’ll see. 

Christ made it, therefore, very clear, right there and then, the difference between Himself and God. We repeat, He showed His disciples that a spirit, or God, does not have flesh and bones, “as you see I have,” said Jesus. And what further did Jesus mean when He said that He, Himself, He has flesh and bones? He answers that here in John, chapter eight, recorded here in John 8:40, let’s quote the words of our Lord Jesus: 

But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God.

[John 8:40 New King James Version] 

Brother Bob: When He said He has flesh and bones, when He said that to His disciples, He was teaching them what? He was teaching that He is a man, and not God. Did He ever teach His disciples that, in fact, He is their God? Absolutely not. In fact, He taught them He is a man. In fact, if we go back to that verse where Thomas says, “My Lord and My God,” that’s John, chapter 20, verse 28. But in that same Book of John, in fact, same chapter 20, let’s just back up a couple of verses. And listen, dear friends, listen closely to the words of Jesus as He clarifies who their God is. I quote, John 20:17, it says:

Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”

[John 20:17 New King James Version]

Brother Bob: Christ clarifies here distinctly, dear friends, His God is the Father, which is the same God as His disciples. He said, “My Father and your Father, and My God, and Your God.”

We started this discussion with four main questions. Let’s go back and review those questions and what we have learned from these Bible verses we have read together:

  1. Why did Apostle Thomas say to Jesus, “My Lord and My God”? 

Answer: He mistakenly called Jesus that in his shocking amazement that Jesus is alive again. He was wrong, and he was not teaching. The conversation was about Christ’s resurrection from the dead, not anything about Christ being God. 

  1. Was Apostle Thomas the only one who had that wrong assumption?

No. Other disciples of Christ had similar reactions, in fact. They were terrified, they were frightened to see Him alive again, and thought that He was a spirit, and mistook Him for God who they knew to be a spirit. 

  1. Is it true that Jesus Christ did not correct Apostle Thomas and the other apostles?

Christ did correct Thomas, and He did correct the other apostles, and even pointed out they were doubting His teachings that He and God were different. 

  1. What did Jesus Christ teach regarding the difference between God and Himself? 

We read, Christ made clear distinction that God is a Spirit, which means God does not have flesh and bones as Jesus does, said Christ. 

We hope this answers the curiosity of those who believe in the Trinity, or that Jesus is God, or they misunderstand John 20:28 and Apostle Thomas. The true disciples of Christ back then, and even now, believe that Christ is not God. He is very different from God, and He lovingly corrected his followers who made that mistake. 

We know there are verses that people use to try to prove that Jesus is God, but there is no properly translated verse of the Bible that will ever teach that Jesus is God. The trinity is a false doctrine. We serve the true God here inside the Church Of Christ, because That’s in the Bible

We’d like you to continue learning about the Iglesia Ni Cristo, the Church Of Christ. To do so,

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Brother Bob: please visit us online, browse the different topics, or set up an appointment to meet with the minister of the gospel. And if you have any questions about the Bible or salvation, please email them to us.

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Brother Bob: I’m Bob Pellien. Thanks for watching. See you next time on That’s in the Bible!

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Was Thomas Wrong in John 20:28?