By Ron Daly
One of the most remarkable and sublime declarations in New Testament writings regarding the deity of Jesus Christ is the address of Thomas after the resurrection of the Lord recorded in John 20. (The whole of the twentieth chapter of the Gospel according to John ought to be read for the important contextual material.)
We should note with particular significance verses 24-29 of chapter twenty, for the following facts are stated: (1) Thomas called Didymus (Gk. Didumos, meaning “twofold, twain, double, hence, by implication, twin”) was one of the twelve, but was not with them when Jesus came. (2) The other disciples of the Lord declared that they had seen Jesus but Thomas avowed that in the absence of physical testimony, “Except I shall see” and “put my finger into” and “put my hands into” (the nail prints and His side), “I will not believe.” (Note: In the Greek New Testament, the phrase, “I will not believe” is “ou me pisteuso”.) When used with the subjunctive or future indicative ou me is the strongest form of negative and connotes “in no way” or “not at all.” The verb pisteuso is the first person singular, future, active indicative of the root word pisteuo and, when we consider the phrase ou me pisteuso as a whole, the double negative ou me being emphatic, we see the force involved in Thomas’ refusal to believe unless he exercised what he thought was the proper ground (basis) for faith (belief). For study purposes, let us compare several translation of the phrase ou me pisteuso and see how they capture the force of it as recognized in the Greek text. Williams New Testament (p. 252), “I will never believe it,” ASV, NASB, Young’s Literal Translation, and KJV render the phrase, “I will not believe.” The Goodspeed Translation has “I will never believe it!” (3) We also ascertain that after eight days Jesus appeared to the disciples, and Thomas was with them. The Master said, “Peace be unto you.” (4) The Lord speaks directly to Thomas (how shocked Thomas must have been!). Jesus tells him to “reach hither thy finger, and see my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and put it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.” (5) In verse 28, Thomas addresses the risen Redeemer as, “My Lord and my God.” (6) Jesus states the true component of faith, “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
We shall now turn our attention specifically to the address of Thomas in verse 28 for a more complete discussion of its significance.
There has been divergence of views regarding the significance of the phrase “My Lord and My God” among New Testament scholars and theologians. Some of the exegetical and critical commentators believe that Thomas’ statement is to be regarded only as an exclamation, i.e. a matter of astonishment or excitement. But, this conclusion seems to be untenable for the following reasons: (1) Thomas knew that Jesus was more than man; (2) the use of expressing the vocative case (the case of address) by the form of the nominative with the article; (3) Jesus accepted Thomas’ emphatic words of conviction without rebuke; (4) the context, i.e., the fact that Christ appears after the breaking of the bonds of death (cf. Rom. 1:4); (5) eipen auto, “said to him.”
B.F. Westcott in commenting on the phrase “My Lord and my God” truly says, “The words are beyond question addressed to Christ (saith unto him), and cannot be understood as a confession of belief as to His Person . . . expressed in the form of an impassioned address” (The Gospel According To Saint John, p. 297). Albert Bengel asserted, “The disciples had said ton Kurion, the Lord, ver. 25: now Thomas, recalled to faith, not merely acknowledges Jesus to be Lord, as he had before, and that he had risen, as his fellow-disciples asserted; but even makes loftier confession of his Godhead, than anyone before” (New Testament Word Studies, p. 728). There is little doubt that Thomas’ words must be construed (interpreted), not as an avowal of excitement or exclamation, but as an address to the Christ concerning His person, deity, Godhood! Let us now look into the Greek Testament and briefly analyze the key words in John 20:28.
“Ho Kurios Mon Kai Ho Theos Mou”
The above phrase enclosed in quotations marks is a transliteration of what Thomas said as recorded in the gospel according to John.
A Grammatical Analysis. Ho is the definite article used to point out particular identity and is here translated “the.” Kurios is nominative singular masculine and denotes a potentate, sovereign. Mou is the first person singular, genitive case of ego and a literal translation is “of me.” Kai serves as a conjunction and is connective in nature. The second ho has the same nature as the first, a definite article. Theos is nominative singular masculine and denotes the supreme, one and only true God, deity. The second mou has the same structure as the first and being in the genitive is to be translated “of me.:
Based on the grammatical analysis we give the following as a literal, accurate translation of what Thomas said: “The Lord (sovereign) of me and the God (one true deity) of me.” It should be noted that the repetition of the article and that of the pronoun (mou, of me) give to the words of Thomas solemnity which only deity merits! Jesus, in full acceptance receives Thomas’ address! It is concerning Jesus that Paul the apostle says in Colossians 2:9 – “For in Him dwelleth (katoikei, third person singular, present, active ind. of katoikeo). The fact that katoikei is a present tense verb denotes durative or linear action which could be literally translated, “is dwelling” or “continues to dwell.”
Christ the Lord (Kurios) and He is God (Theos) according to the teaching of Old and New Testament Scripture (Isa. 7:14; 9:6; Ps. 110:1; Jn. 1:1, 14; 8:58; 5:17-18; et. al). The fact that Christ is Lord (Kurios) in the absolute sense means that he has “all authority” over all creation (Mt. 28:18).
God’s children should always be ready to defend the gospel (Phil. 1:15, 6; Jude 3) against “spiritual intruders” and teachers of heresy concerning the divinity of Christ. It disturbs me no little to gaze intently upon a new generation which is unable and ill-equipped to present the case (as taught in the Scriptures) for the deity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Modernistic and materialistic groups as foaming waves of the sea are marching to and fro disseminating their damnable propaganda, saturating the minds of the gullible and unsuspecting. Furthermore, if we sit upon the mountain top and watch without becoming active participants in the ever present conflict with error, we sin!
Brethren, are we putting forth the necessary exertion in order to overthrow the onslaught of infidelity? Why not start now by diligently studying the Scriptures?
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 10, pp. 309-310
May 16, 1985