The only Evangelist to record this story, John ties Thomas’s experience to other accounts in the Bible. Jesus performed many signs in the presence of the disciples, but his sign-making is not recorded in the Bible. Instead, his signs are included for us to believe that Jesus is the Christ and have life in his name. However, Thomas’s experiences are not the only example of what the Evangelist means by “proof”.
In his commentary on the Gospel of John, the church father, Thomas, was a key figure to the christian community in Syria. He was a trusted confidant of Jesus, and received mystical and advanced knowledge from Jesus. But even in this role, Thomas displayed both a dull mind and a harsh, cynical outlook. In fact, his skepticism and crude realism contradicted his mystical experiences.
In the Commentary on the Gospel of John, Thomas’s attitude toward God is emphasized, which contrasts with his more practical and pragmatic viewpoint. He was a “truth-seeker.” Yet he was also prone to esoteric speculations. In other words, Thomas was not a prophet. And he lacked the spiritual visions that would lead to eternal life.
John Chrysostom, in his Commentary on the Gospel of John, observed that Thomas’ inquisitive attitude was accompanied by an incredibly dull mind. He did not trust his own eyes, and he tended to rely on the craziest of senses when seeking evidence. Theophylact and Euthymios Zigabeos discussed Thomas’ attitude and behavior in the context of the Beatitudes of Jesus.
Though Thomas was an inquisitive person, he was a poor witness and an unreliable witness. His lack of faith made him untrustworthy of God. Although his faith was limited, Thomas was not a bad man. He had a frightened and a dull mind. He would not trust his eyes and would instead seek evidence through the most crass senses.
In John 20:24-29, the real Thomas is revealed. He closes the door to Gnosticizing and esoteric speculations. His inquisitive mind tended to be a dull one. He would not trust his own senses and instead rely on other senses to find evidence. This was a very dangerous trait in a young person.
The apostolic witnesses in John’s Gospel must be believed. This means that we cannot see Jesus for ourselves. Therefore, we must accept what the apostolic witnesses have to say and rely on tradition to understand Jesus. In the case of Thomas, the apostolic eyewitnesses and tradition are the only proof we have to believe in Christ. Unlike Thomas, we have no access to the risen Lord.