Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 20:29

Jesus *said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Backsliders;   Faith;   Jesus, the Christ;   Thomas;   Thompson Chain Reference - Beattitudes, General;   Dead, the;   Mortality-Immortality;   Resurrection;   The Topic Concordance - Belief;   Blessings;   Seeing;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Miracle;   Thomas;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Beatitudes;   Blessing;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Thomas;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Faith;   John, the Gospel According to;   Mary Magdalene;   Thomas;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Blessing and Cursing;   Fall;   John, the Gospel of;   Resurrection of Jesus Christ;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Confession;   Faith;   John, Gospel of;   Thomas;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Beatitude;   Blessedness (2);   Blessing (2);   Communion (2);   Confession (of Christ);   Dependence;   Faith ;   Happiness;   John, Gospel of (Ii. Contents);   Slowness of Heart;   Thomas;   Witness (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Thomas ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Chief parables and miracles in the bible;   Thomas;   Smith Bible Dictionary - John, Gospel of;   Thom'as;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Thomas;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Jesus of Nazareth;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Beatitudes;   Christ, the Exaltation of;   John, Gospel of;   Thomas;  
Devotionals:
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for May 9;   Every Day Light - Devotion for December 8;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Thomas - This word is omitted by almost every MS., version, and ancient commentator of importance.

Blessed are they, etc. - Thou hast seen, and therefore thou hast believed, and now thou art blessed; thou art now happy - fully convinced of my resurrection; yet no less blessed shall all those be who believe in my resurrection, without the evidence thou hast had. From this we learn that to believe in Jesus, on the testimony of his apostles, will put a man into the possession of the very same blessedness which they themselves enjoyed. And so has God constituted the whole economy of grace that a believer, at eighteen hundred years' distance from the time of the resurrection, suffers no loss because he has not seen Christ in the flesh. The importance and excellence of implicit faith in the testimony of God is thus stated by Rab. Tanchum: "Rab. Simeon ben Lachesh saith, The proselyte is more beloved by the holy blessed God than that whole crowd that stood before Mount Sinai; for unless they had heard the thundering, and seen the flames and lightning, the hills trembling, and the trumpets sounding, they had not received the law. But the proselyte hath seen nothing of all this, and yet he hath come in, devoting himself to the holy blessed God, and hath taken upon him (the yoke of) the kingdom of heaven."

Reader! Christ died for thee! - believe, and thou shalt be saved, and become as blessed and as happy as an apostle.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 20:29". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-20.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Because thou hast seen me - Because you have looked upon my body, and seen the proofs that I am the same Saviour that was crucified. Jesus here approves the faith of Thomas, but more highly commends the faith of those who should believe without having seen.

Blessed - Happy, or worthy of the divine approbation. The word has here the force of the comparative degree, signifying that they would be in some respects more blessed than Thomas. They would evince higher faith.

That have not seen … - Those who should be convinced by the testimony of the apostles, and by the influences of the Spirit. They would evince stronger faith. All faith is of things not seen; and God blesses those most who most implicitly rely on his word.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 20:29". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-20.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

John 20:29

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen Me thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen yet have believed

Who is blessed?

Thomas’s conduct was strange but honest. How much better to be doubting Thomas than the believing priests! They believed the resurrection, or they would never have given to the soldiers the price of a lie. They believed, but they would not believe. Thomas doubted, but would gladly have believed. In the matter of faith and unbelief men may be divided into four classes.

I. THOSE WHO WILL NOT BELIEVE EVEN WHAT THEY SEE. Such were the men who apprehended our Lord. Not one of them in his past life had fallen, or seen another fall, at a word. But now they all fall. Yet they apprehend the mysterious Man, just as if nothing special had occurred. Such was Pharaoh. What evidence will ever convince him that he had better let Israel go? But nothing less than ruin will convince him. Such was Ahaziah (2 Kings 1:1-18). More sad and shocking still, perhaps, is the case of Stephen’s judges. Whether the accused be like an angel or a fiend, matters little or nothing to the Sanhedrim. Yes; there is a class of men like Solomon’s fools, whose folly will not leave them, though they be brayed in a mortar; men who can hear nothing softer than thunder, who can feel nothing lighter than vengeance.

II. THOSE WHO BELIEVE ONLY WHEN THEY SEE. To this class Thomas for a time belongs, and Abraham and the apostles Our Lord, in the plainest words, and more than once, had said that He should rise OH the third day. Who believed it? To this class, of course, belong the men of the world. One can hardly draw a line between saint and worldling so strong and so clear as this. The worldling trusts in himself, or his friends, or his wealth, or his stars; the saint trusts in God.

III. THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN, AND YET HAVE BELIEVED. Without this faith it is impossible to please God. Without faith a man may be a logician, a mathematician, a general, a man of business; but by what possibility can he be a child of God? Take faith from the earth; let everything be done by sight; let the consequence of every action be immediate and irresistibly evident; and what is left but calculation and business, time-tables and statistics? Life has become a counting-house, in which all we want is a sharp eye and a strong hand. With faith has gone every high and holy feeling--all patience, courage, largeness of heart. The believer is every way blessed.

1. He has the best moral education which even the All-wise can give him. What better exercise than to rise from the seen to the unseen? Who can be more noble than he who, in the very sunshine of prosperity, refuses to trust flattering appearances, or even flattering facts? And of all brave men is not he the bravest who, in the darkest and saddest hours, maintains an unflinching trust in the God who hides Himself?

2. He wins an infinite prize. Eternal life is the goal of faith. Do we want an example of steady faith? See it in Noah, who for one hundred and twenty years built the ark. How the faith shines through the long, slow years!

IV. THOSE WHO BELIEVE NOT ONLY WITHOUT BUT AGAINST APPEARANCES--as Abraham when commanded to offer Isaac, and Job when he said,“Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him,” and the three Hebrew children. (W. J. Frankland.)

The blessedness of faith

I. RELIGIOUS PRIVILEGE NOW UNDER THE COMMON GRACE OF THE GOSPEL IS GREATER THAN THAT POSSESSED BY THOSE WHO COMPANIED WITH CHRIST IN THE FLESH. This is the case as regards

1. The evidences of Christ’s Godhead and Divine Apostlate. At first sight it would seem impossible that any evidences should transcend that accorded to Christ’s contemporaries. Yet against this was the constant presence of the Lord’s manhood, which must have been fruitful in misgivings. But this wellspring of incredulity is now sealed. We know not Christ after the flesh. When we connect this with the moral effects of Christianity, the testimony of millions to Christ’s power to bless and save, it is clear that a return to the Apostle’s position would be a loss.

2. The substance of Christian truth. The multitudes to whom Christ spake in parables had no pre-eminence over ourselves; for they were left in ignorance of much that Christ taught His disciples. But these disciples were left in ignorance of many things they were net able to hear until the descent of the Spirit, and all the fruits of their subsequent inspiration we enjoy.

3. The prime grace of the gospel, the knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins. Here, perhaps, more than anywhere, we are apt to draw unfavourable contrasts. Could we but bring our spiritual pollution to where the leper knelt! The music of that word “forgiven,” uttered by Christ’s own lips--did that but fall upon our ears! But are we sure that if Christ were upon earth we should be inclined to seek Him? That the same hindrances of shame, worldliness, &c., would not still operate? And then why should the utterance of Christ’s own lips be more satisfactory than the inward witness of the Holy Spirit? But in two respects one privilege is immeasurably higher.

4. The comparative means for obtaining a perfect preparation for eternal life.

II. IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE GENERAL PRINCIPLES UPON WHICH GOD GOVERNS HIS CREATURES, IT IS BETTER THAT WE ARE CALLED TO LIVE FOR A WHILE BY FAITH AND NOT BY SIGHT.

1. Inward satisfaction in the service of God is in proportion to the difficulties of the service. Were it not for the renunciation of the world, the crucifixion of self, the wrestling with evil, which go hand in hand with the return of a sinful spirit to God, there would be little of that joy which come so often with the first revelation of Christ. If evangelical truth in its sublimer mysteries were accessible to every vagrant aspiration, how poor a harvest of Divine delight would they furnish compared with that now yielded to the toilsome husbandry of thought and devotion! And when we pray, and labour, find peace, thereby we owe it to the spiritual hindrances which block our approach to God and to outward pressure and trial.

2. A life of faith is fitted to produce a symmetry and perfection of Christian character such as could scarcely come by a less trying process. Those Christians are the wisest, and meekest, and most spiritual to whom the largest share of providential trouble has fallen, and the perfecting of the Church for the duties of time and for the felicity and services of heaven is only to be secured under the operation of faith in the unseen Saviour. Were the presence which faith imposes lifted off the Church, pride would take the place of humility, and self-worship consecration to Christ, and hardness charity.

3. The ultimate rewards of creatures like ourselves are determined by the severity of the ordeal which constitutes moral probation. If there be creatures whose final estate is determined apart from probation, we can hardly imagine them possessors of a blessedness comparable to those who have suffered and so are perfected. There is not a good, even of this world, the fruits of pains and trouble, which is not the sweeter from the price we pay for it.

III. THE TEXT HAS OTHER SIGNIFICANT ASPECTS.

1. Towards Christian belief. It shows a strong shadow on millinarianism. Whatever advantage such a state of things might be supposed to confer on the Church, on the principle of the text it would be a diminution, not a heightening, of its present privilege.

2. Towards Christian sentiment and observance. It distinctly frowns upon all interposition of the material and human between God in Christ and our souls. The entire genius of Christianity is hostile to religious symbolism, and the history of the Church utters a strong caution against the use of sense as a helpmate to faith. Faith needs it not. It is impious to set up Moses’ candlestick again now that the Sun has risen.

3. Towards Christian character and life.

Christians.

A simple faith:

A peasant of singular piety, being on a particular occasion admitted to the presence of the King of Sweden, was asked by him what he considered to be the nature of true faith. The peasant entered fully into the subject much to the King’s comfort and satisfaction. When the king was on his death-bed he had a return of Ms fears as to the safety of his soul, and still the same question was perpetually put to those around him, “What is real faith?” The Archbishop of Upsal, who had been sent for, commenced in a learned and logical manner a scholastic definition of faith, which lasted an hour. When he had finished, the king said, with much energy, “All this is ingenious, but it is not comfortable; it is not what I want. Nothing but the farmer’s faith will do for me.” (J. Everett.)

Faith and sight

I. SIGHT WITHOUT FAITH--sin.

1. Ancient--the sin of the Jewish people.

2. Common--the sin of many now.

3. Great--since that which in Christ is presented to the eye of faith and reason ought to lead to heart acceptance of Christ.

II. FAITH AFTER SIGHT--salvation. Exemplified

1. In the disciples (except perhaps John) (John 20:8), who believed in Christ risen after they had seen Him.

2. In those who to-day believe in Christ only after their intellectual difficulties as to Christ have been solved.

III. FAITH WITHOUT SIGHT--blessedness.

1. It implies a larger measure of Divine grace.

2. It exhibits a higher degree of Christian virtue.

3. It secures a richer experience of inward felicity.

4. It wins a readier commendation from the lips of Christ. (T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

The Bible a help to the sight of faith:

You may have stood on the sea coast while a friend has been looking out to sea through a telescope, perhaps it was when you were at Douglas waiting the arrival of a steamer from Liverpool, on which you were expecting a beloved relative. While you are standing on the rock, your friend is looking through the glass, and saying, “Yes; I see him!” You reply, “Let me have the glass! I cannot believe it, unless I see too.” You lift the glass, and in a little while, you say, “Ah, I see him; now, he sees us, and is waving his handkerchief to us!” Here is a telescope which God has provided for every man. We can see, through it, that the record of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, are facts, as plainly as if we had seen Him with our eyes and touched Him with our hands. We also see that He is our Saviour, who died in our room and stead; and that we are saved from the penalty of eternal death, because our iniquities were laid on Him instead of on us. We see through this Divine telescope, that when Jesus was nailed to the cross, He died, not for His own sins, but for ours! Through this glass we see the water of life, and notice to our joy that any thirsty soul may drink thereof, without money and without price. Through this blessed glass, we see the hand of the Lord directing our paths, and holding us up in slippery ways. It is the most wonderful telescope in the world. It shows us our departed friends and children in a beautiful land, where they wear white robes and have neither any sorrow nor sin; and it shows that we have a mansion in paradise on which our names are written; but, best of all, it reveals that we--we!--shall actually enjoy the blessedness of heaven! (W. Birch.)

Meditation a help to the sight of faith:

Meditation and contemplation are often like windows of agate, and gates of carbuncle, through which we see the Redeemer. Meditation puts the telescope to the eye, and enables us to see Jesus after a better sort than we could have seen Him if we had lived in the days of His flesh; for now we see not only Jesus in the flesh, but the spiritual Jesus; we see the spirit of Jesus, the core and essence of Jesus, the very soul of the Saviour. O happy you, that spend much time in contemplations! I wish that we had less to do, that we might do more of this heavenly work. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Sight and faith:

Walking by sight is just this--“I believe in myself;” whereas walking by faith is--“I believe in God.” If I walk by sight I walk by myself; if I walk by faith, then there are two of us, and the second one--ah! how great, how glorious, how mighty is He--the Great All-in-all--God-all-sufficient! Sight goes a warfare at its own charges, andbecomes a bankrupt, and is defeated. Faith goes a warfare at the charges of the King’s Exchequer, and there is no fear that Faith’s bank shall ever be broken. Sight builds the house from its own quarry, and on its own foundation but it begins to build and is never able to finish, and what it does build rests on the sand and falls. But faith builds on the foundation laid in eternity, in the fair colours of the Saviour’s blood, in the covenant of grace. It goes to God for every stone to be used in the building, and brings forth the top-stone with shoutings of “Grace, grace unto it!” (C. H.Spurgeon.)

Sight of faith:

Sight is the noblest sense; it is quick; we can look from earth to heaven in a moment: it is large; we can see the hemisphere of the heavens at one view: it is sure and certain; in hearing we may be deceived; and, lastly, it is the most affecting sense. Even so, faith is the quickest, the largest, the most certain, the most affecting grace: like an eagle in the clouds, at one view, it sees Christ in heaven, and looks down upon the world; it looks backwards and forwards; it sees things past, present, and to come. (R. Sibbes, D. D.)

Faith, not sight:

By constant sight, the effect of objects seen grows less; by constant faith, the effect of objects believed in grows greater. The probable reason of this is, that personal observation does not admit of the influence of the imagination in impressing the fact; while unseen objects, realized by faith, have the auxiliary aid of the imagination, not to exaggerate them, but to clothe them with living colours, and impress them upon the heart. Whether this be the reason or not, the fact is true, that, the more frequently we see, the less we feel, the power of an object; while, the more frequently we dwell upon an object by faith, the more we feel its power. (J. B. Walker, M. D.)

Faith without sight

1. Those who saw and believed not were far from being blessed.

2. Those who saw him, and believed, were undoubtedly blessed.

3. Those who have not seen, and yet have believed, are emphatically blessed.

4. There remains the superlative degree of blessedness in seeing Jesus face to face without need of believing in the same sense as now.

5. But for the present this is our blessedness, this is our place in the gospel history--we have not seen, and yet have believed. What a comfort that so high a degree of blessedness is open to us!

I. DO NOT LET US DIMINISH THIS BLESSEDNESS

1. By wishing to see.

2. By failing to believe. Believe

(3) Livingly, so as to be simple as a child.

II. DO NOT LET US THINK THIS BLESSEDNESS UNATTAINABLE.

1. This blessedness is linked for ever with the faith which our Lord accepts: in fact, it is the appointed reward of it.

2. God deserves such faith of us. He is so true that His unsupported word is quite enough for faith to build upon. Can we only believe Him as far as we can see Him?

3. Thousands of saints have rendered, and are rendering, such faith, and are enjoying such blessedness at this moment, We are bound to have fellowship with them in like precious faith.

4. Hitherto our own experience has warranted such faith. Has it not?

5. Those of us who are now enjoying the blessed peace of faith can speak with great confidence upon the matter. Why, then, are so many cast down? Why will they not believe?

III. DO NOT LET ANY OF US MISS IT. The faith which our Lord described is exceedingly precious, and we ought to seek after it, for

1. It is the only true and saving faith. Faith which demands sight is not faith at all, and cannot save the soul.

2. It is in itself most acceptable with God. Nothing is acceptable without it Hebrews 11:6). It is the evidence of the acceptance of the man and his works.

3. It is a proof of grace within: of a spiritual mind, a renewed nature, a reconciled heart, a new-born spirit.

4. It is the root-principle of a glorious character.

5. It is exceedingly useful to others: in comforting the despondent, in impressing unbelievers, in cheering seekers, &c.

6. It enriches its possessor to the utmost, giving power in prayer, strength of mind, decision of character, firmness under temptation, boldness in enterprise, joy of soul, realization of heaven, &c.

Conclusion:

1. Know you this faith?

2. Blessedness lies that way. Seek it! (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Faith with and without sight

I. WHAT WERE SOME OF THE ADVANTAGES ENJOYED BY THOSE WHO LIVED AND SERVED GOD IN THE TIMES OF MIRACLE?

1. To a considerable extent the pious Jews and the first Christians believed because they saw. Not that they walked wholly by sight. Noah was “warned of God of things not seen as yet.” Abraham went out of his old home, “not knowing whither he went.” And those worthies mentioned in Hebrews 11:1-40. acted without assistance from the objects of time and sense, in the instances that are specified. But taking into the account the whole course of their lives, they were much more aided by sight than we are.

2. How differently the modern believer is situated! Generation after generation has come and gone, but no celestial sign has been given. Christians have believed that God is, but they have never seen His shape nor heard His voice. They have had faith in immortality, but no soul has ever returned to make their assurance doubly sure. In some instances, this reticence has produced an almost painful uncertainty, and wakened the craving for some palpable evidence of unseen realities. And all the attempts of Spiritualism are another testimony to the craving natural to man for miraculous signs. Sceptics contend that the miracle is irrational. But, certainly, nothing is irrational for which there is a steady and constant demand upon the part of human nature.

II. SOME OF THE ADVANTAGES WHICH THE CHURCH OF GOD EXPERIENCES IN THESE LATTER DAYS, WHEN THERE IS NO MIRACLE TO ASSIST FAITH. Believing without seeing

1. Is a stronger faith; and the stronger the faith, the greater the blessedness.

2. Honours God more. We cannot show greater respect for any one than to take his bare word. There are comparatively few men of this first class and standing. And just as far as we withhold our confidence in God until we can see the wisdom of His ways, we dishonour Him. Suppose a sudden and inexplicable sorrow--a missionary is cut down in the midst of great usefulness; a wise and kind father is taken away from a family that leans entirely upon him: if in these instances no doubts are felt, what an honour do they render to God by such absolute confidence. For the faith in such cases terminates upon the very personality and nature of God. It passes by all secondary causes and reposes upon the First Cause. Oftentimes our faith is of such a mixed character, that it honours the creature as much as the Creator. For example, if we expect that the whole world will be Christianized, partly because of the Divine promises and partly because the wealth and civilization and military power of the earth are in the possession of Christian nations, we honour the creature in conjunction with the Creator; and this is to dishonour Him, for He says, “My glory will I not give to another.” The faith of the Church is of the purest, highest kind only when she trusts solely and simply in God, and looks upon all favouring circumstances as results, not as supports, of His promise. Take away the promises and agency of God, and where would be the wealth, &c., of Protestant Europe and America? “Sufficient is Thine arm alone, and our defence is sure.” The early Church, with the civilization of the Greek and Roman world arrayed against them, could not lean upon it in conjunction with God, if they would. They were shut up to the mere power and promise of the Most High. And what honour did they give Him in this: and how did He honour them in return? Conclusion: From this subject it is evident

1. That God is the sole object of faith. There is a difference between belief and faith. We may believe a man; but we may believe in and on God alone. Faith is the resting of the mind; and the mind can find no rest in a creature.

2. If God is the sole object of faith, then we must beware of a mixed or partial faith. We must not trust partly in God, and partly in His creatures. He will receive no divided honours. As in our justification we cannot trust partly in the blood of Christ, and partly in our own good works, so in our more general relation to God, our confidence must not rest upon any combination or union between Him and the works of His hands.

3. We know these things, happy are we if we do them. (Prof. Shedd.)

Faith of Thomas:

Faith, resting upon the word of promise, upon a Divine testimony, is more noble, spiritual, and ingenuous; displays more candour and humility, and brings more glory to God, than that which is the result of sensible manifestation. In illustrating these words, let us

I. EXAMINE THE NATURE OF THAT FAITH WHICH IS HERE COMMENDED BY OUR SAVIOUR. Faith, in its most general sense, is the strong persuasion of any truth, the firm assent of the mind to it. This persuasion may be founded on the evidence of our senses: thus Thomas believed that Jesus was risen, because he saw, felt, and heard Him; thus I believe there is a sun, because I behold it, and am warmed by its beams. Sometimes this persuasion is founded on the deductions of reason: thus, because I discover in the universe so many effects, to produce which there must have been an intelligent First Cause, I believe there is a God (John 10:37.) Butthough the word faith is thus used, both in common language and in the Scriptures, to signify that persuasion which is founded on the evidence of the senses or the deductions of reason, yet, in its more strict and proper reason, it denotes that assent of the mind which is founded on testimony. It is in this manner we believe, although we do not see. Thus I am told that there is such a city as Rome, such a river as the Nile; and though I have never seen them, I am persuaded of their existence, because it is confirmed to me by witnesses who had opportunities of knowing, and who had no interest in deceiving me. Their testimony fully supplies the place of the evidence of the senses or the deductions of reason. If the testimony be that of man, there results from it human faith; if the testimony be that of God, there results from it Divine faith; if it be of God through Jesus Christ and His apostles, there results Christian faith. But that we may more fully understand the nature of this faith, let us consider a few of its properties

1. It is enlightened. To believe without seeing is very different from believing without evidence or proof. The believer is not a weak being, receiving every thing without examination; nor any enthusiast, assenting without motive or light.

2. This faith is humble. A thousand objects connected with the being, attributes, and purposes of God, with the schemes of providence, or the plan of redemption, necessarily present to him abysses which no finite mind can fathom; but, filled with veneration and wonder before the Infinite, the incomprehensible, he submits his understanding; he strives not to break through those barriers which the Eternal has placed around His throne

3. This faith is firm. The foundation of his belief is more stable than the heavens and the earth. It is not a mere probability, a wavering hope, an uncertain guess; but the declaration of God, on which he rests his assured belief and his everlasting interests.

4. This faith is universal in its object: receiving as true the whole of the sacred volume, its histories, its predictions, its doctrines, its precepts, its threatenings, its promises.

5. Finally, this faith is active, efficacious, purifying. It is not confined to a barren admiration of the truths and facts that are revealed; it descends into the heart, and sanctifies all its powers; it receives the precepts and commands of God as well as His promises; it requires the sacrifice of corrupt passions as well as the submission of our reason. Let us not deceive ourselves; the conviction of the understanding must pass to the heart, and then be manifested in all the actions of a holy life.

II. Inquire WHY THOSE WHO THUS BELIEVE, ALTHOUGH THEY DO NOT SEE, ARE BLESSED.

1. They are so because they display true wisdom, both in the choice of objects to occupy their mind, and in the rules they follow in giving their assent to them. They select for their belief, and contemplation, the most important truths. Place by their side the most sublime human sciences; and in comparison these sciences, to Him who judges without prejudice, and with a reference to the eternal duration of man, will appear only a vain and pompous ignorance. How trifling in reality are the pursuits of the greatest earthly philosopher, if he is ignorant of the science of salvation! More happy and more wise are they who are contented to behold with the eyes of God what they cannot behold with their own; who submit to be directed by the infallible Father of lights; who, “though they see not, yet believe.”

2. Happy also because they act not only in the wisest, but also in the most advantageous manner, since they thus avoid misery and secure felicity. Without this faith, what overwhelming doubts, what cruel uncertainties, what multiplied fears surround us! Without it, what hope has the penitent? Can God forgive the rebel, in consistence with His holiness? In what mode can the remission of our sins be secured? These and a thousand other questions are unanswerable. Without it, what adequate consolation is there to the persecuted and oppressed? What relief to the bereaved? What comfort to the dying? (H. Kollock, D. D.)

Faith in an unseen Christ:

Here is another “beatitude” in addition to what Matthew gives. Christ was Himself the “Blessed One”; and well knew who were “blessed,” and what made them so. But how and why are believers so specially “blessed?”

I. THEY THROW THEMSELVES UPON THE BARE WORD OF GOD. So that their faith rests on no divided evidence; and the foundation they build on is not partly strong and partly weak, partly iron and partly clay, partly rock and partly sand, but wholly rock, iron, strong. Sight may change; to-day bright, tomorrow dim; but God’s testimony changes not.

II. THEY COME DIRECTLY INTO CONTACT WITH GOD HIMSELF. No medium comes between them and God. The soul touches Him who is a Spirit, needing no interpreter nor introducer.

III. THEY GET MORE INTO THE HEART AND REALITY OF THE THINGS OF GOD. Sight often crusts over spiritual things, or builds a wall. Simple faith goes in at once to the heart and core of things. Instead of cruising along the rocky sea-board, it strikes inland, and pitches its tent amid the gardens and by the streams of a richer and more glorious country. It is in itself simpler, purer, and more direct; and hence it finds its way into regions into which faith of a grosser kind could never penetrate: it rises up, with a buoyancy all its own, into a higher atmosphere, disentangled from the things of earth. Like a being without a body to clog it, it moves more at will, and rejoices in a liberty to which faith of a more material kind is a stranger.

IV. THEY TAKE FEWER FALSE STEPS, AND MAKE FEWER MISTAKES. Simple faith sees, as it were, everything with God’s eyes, and hears everything with God’s ears; and thus comes to no false conclusions, and is kept from the continual mistakes into which sense is falling. It not only sets the right estimate on the evidence of sense and feeling, but it puts the true interpretation upon all the facts and phenomena coming under the eye or sense. Exercising simple faith on the bare word of Him who has given me the record respecting His crucified, dead, buried, risen Son, I see myself crucified, dead, buried, risen with Him. Though seeing in myself the chief of sinners, I know and believe that there iS no condemnation for me. Thus I believe not only without, but against seeing; and put the right construction upon things seen and temporal, looking at everything with the eyes of God.

V. THEY ARE THUS SUBJECTED TO DISCIPLINE OF THE REST AND MOST EFFECTUAL KIND. This life of believing keeps the body under, while it lifts up the soul; it loosens us from the earthly, and fastens us to the heavenly. It calms us, too, in a stormy world. It awakes us and keeps us awake, amid scenes fitted to lull us asleep. It makes us more truly “children too of the light and of the day,” by transporting us beyond this world of night and darkness, into the kingdom of the unsetting sun. (H. Bonar, D. D.)

Dr. Arnold’s death:

When Dr. Arnold was suddenly stricken with his mortal agony, he was seen, we are told, lying still, with his hands clasped, his lips moving, and his eyes raised upwards as if in prayer; when all at once he repeated, firmly and earnestly: “And Jesus said unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen,” &c. (Bp. Westcott.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "John 20:29". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/john-20.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

Jesus saith unto him, Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

It was absolutely necessary that Thomas' unbelief be removed, and the dramatic and sensational manner in which Jesus removed it had the desired effect; but Jesus thought of the future millions whose faith would have to depend upon the very word of those apostles whose testimony Thomas had refused. In the very nature of things, all men cannot put their fingers in the nail-prints and their hands in his side. Thus, their faith will be a moral judgment, not an intellectual one; and thinking of them, Jesus conferred his divine blessing upon THEM, rather than upon Thomas. "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed!"

One's own heart must speak to him as the sacred chapters of the New Testament are read. The glorious testimony is all there; but, in the last analysis, it is human testimony. In the word of God? Certainly, but conveyed in earthen vessels; and it is the polarization of the soul with reference to the Creator that will trigger the soul's reaction to it. See under John 3:19.

Jesus did not pronounce a blessing upon Thomas, which is not to say that a blessing was withheld, but that he did not here announce one, that grace having been reserved for the faithful of all ages who have believed without seeing and whose hearts rightly appraised the words of the apostles as absolute truth. That appraisal, Thomas was not able to make.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 20:29". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/john-20.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas,.... The word Thomas is omitted in the Alexandrian copy, and in Beza's ancient copy, and in some others, and in the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions.

Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; which carries in it a tacit and gentle reproof for his unbelief, and suggests, that if he had not seen, he would not have believed; but is not so harsh as if that had been expressed; and which the Jews were wont to do in a severe mannerF25T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 75. 1. & Sanhedrin, fol. 100. 1. .

"One said to R. Jochanan, expound Rabbi; for it is beautiful for thee to expound: for as thou sayest, so I see: he replied to him, Raka, אלמלא לא ראית לא האמנת, "if thou seest not, thou wilt not believe".'

Christ here allows that Thomas had believed, that he was risen from the dead, and that he was his Lord and God; and though his faith was late and slow, it was sure and certain, and was appropriating; it was a faith of interest, though upon sight, and not on hearing, or the report of the other disciples: now faith on sight may be in persons who have no true spiritual faith; as in some that saw both the person and miracles of Christ on earth, and in others who will see him come in the clouds of heaven; and it has been in others who have truly believed in Christ, as the apostles of the Lamb: but yet, though it may be, as in many it has been, right, yet not so commendable as that without it. From hence may be observed, that Christ allows of the epithets and titles given him by Thomas, and therefore must be Lord and God; and approves of Thomas's faith, and therefore that must be right; though he prefers faith without personal sight of him to it, in the next clause.

Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. The author of the apocryphal book of 2 Esdras 1:37 says of

"the people to come, whose little ones rejoice in gladness',

in the person of the Almighty Lord, "though they have not seen me with bodily eyes, yet in spirit they believe the thing that I say". It seems as if there were some at this time in the city of Jerusalem, who firmly believed that Christ was risen from the dead, upon the testimony of others, though they had not seen him themselves. Faith without sight, in other respects, may be considered as opposed to the beatific vision in heaven; and as destitute of sensible communion with God; and as giving credit to doctrines and things above carnal sense and reason; such as the doctrines of the Trinity, the sonship of Christ, his incarnation, and the union of the two natures in him, and the resurrection of the dead; and as believing whatever is said in the word of God, upon the credit of his testimony; and which has for its objects things past, as what were done in eternity, in the council and covenant of grace; the works of creation and providence in time, the birth, sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ; and also things present, Christ, and the blessings of grace, and things to come, the invisible glories of the other world. Now such are happy that have true faith in these things, for they enjoy many blessings now, as a justifying righteousness, pardon of sin, adoption, freedom of access to God, and security from condemnation; they have spiritual peace, joy, and comfort in their souls, and shall at last be saved with an everlasting salvation.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on John 20:29". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-20.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

8 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed.

(8) True faith depends upon the mouth of God, and not upon the eyes of the flesh.
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These files are public domain.
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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on John 20:29". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/john-20.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed — words of measured commendation, but of indirect and doubtless painfully - felt rebuke: that is, ‹Thou hast indeed believed; it is well: it is only on the evidence of thy senses, and after peremptorily refusing all evidence short of that.‘

blessed they that have not seen, and yet have believed — “Wonderful indeed and rich in blessing for us who have not seen Him, is this closing word of the Gospel” [Alford].

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 20:29". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/john-20.html. 1871-8.

John Lightfoot's Commentary on the Gospels

29. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

[Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.] "R. Simeon Ben Lachish saith, 'The proselyte is more beloved by the holy blessed God than that whole crowd that stood before mount Sinai. For unless they had heard the thunderings, and seen the flames and lightnings, the hills trembling, and the trumpets sounding, they had not received the law. But the proselyte hath seen nothing of all this, and yet hath come in, devoting himself to the holy blessed God, and hath taken upon him the kingdom of heaven."

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Lightfoot, John. "Commentary on John 20:29". "John Lightfoot Commentary on the Gospels". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jlc/john-20.html. 1675.

People's New Testament

Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. Thomas "saw" (he did not need to handle) and believed. We have not seen, but nevertheless believe upon the same Lord. Upon us he pronounces a special blessedness, because we walk by faith instead of sight.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on John 20:29". "People's New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pnt/john-20.html. 1891.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Thou hast believed (πεπιστευκαςpepisteukas). Perfect active indicative. Probably interrogative, but “it was sight, not touch that convinced Thomas” (Bernard).

And yet (καιkai). Clear use of καιkai in the adversative sense. Thomas made a noble confession, but he missed the highest form of faith without the evidence of the senses. Peter (1 Peter 1:8) uses language that seems like a reminiscence of the words of Jesus to Thomas which Peter heard.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 20:29". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/john-20.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Thomas

Omit.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 20:29". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/john-20.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

The Fourfold Gospel

Jesus saith unto him, Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed1.

  1. Blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed. Thus, while rejoicing in the belief of Thomas, Jesus pronounces a beatitude upon the countless numbers of believers in his resurrection, who are not witnesses of it.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 20:29". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/john-20.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Ты поверил. Христос упрекнул Фому только в следующем: раньше он был столь медлителен в вере, что его пришлось насильно тащить к ней через чувственный опыт. А это полностью противоречит ее природе. Если кто возразит, что не допустимо для веры рождаться от прикосновения и внешнего вида, ответ готов. Как я уже говорил, не только прикосновение и лицезрение побудило Фому поверить в божество Христа. Но, пробудившись, Он вспомнил то учение, которое раньше Христос обильно ему преподал. Ибо вера не может произойти только от опыта; необходимо, чтобы она основывалась на Слове Божием. Итак, Христос потому упрекает Фому, что тот не воздал Его Слову должную честь. И вера, которая должна рождаться от слышания и взирать на Слово, была вызвана у него внешними ощущениями.

Блаженны невидевшие и уверовавшие. Христос хвалит веру за то, что, покоясь на одном Слове, она совершенно не зависит от чувств и разума плоти. В этом определении Он кратко подытоживает природу веры. Она не основывается на текущем лицезрении, но проникает до небес, дабы верить в то, что сокрыто от человеческих чувств. Действительно, мы тогда воздаем честь Богу, когда истина Его для нас αυτοπιστος. Вера обладает своим зрением, но оно не направлено на мир и земные объекты. По этой причине вера называется подтверждением невидимого и не явленного (Евр.11:1). Павел же, противопоставляя ее видению (2Кор.5:7), хочет сказать, что она не прилепляется к текущему положению дел и не взирает на то, что явно в этом мире. Она взирает на уста Божии, и, укрепившись Его Словом, побеждает весь мир, бросая якорь в сами небеса. Итог таков: неправильна та вера, которая не основывается на Слове Божием и не возносится к невидимому царству Божию, дабы превзойти все человеческое разумение.

Если же кто возразит, что это утверждение Христа противоречит другому, где Он объявляет блаженными очи, видевшие Его присутствие (Мф.13:16), отвечаю: Христос говорил там не только о телесном виде, о чем говорит теперь, но об откровении, общем для всех благочестивых и являющем Его миру Искупителем. Апостолов же Он сравнивает со святыми царями и пророками, которые жили под тенью Моисеева закона. Теперь же верующие имеют лучшую участь. Ведь им воссиял более яркий свет, более того, им явлена сама суть и истина образов. Многие нечестивые лицезрели тогда Христа только глазами, и от этого ничуть не были блаженны. Мы же, никогда не видевшие Христа телесным взором, обладаем тем блаженством, о котором говорит Христос. Откуда следует: Он зовет блаженными очи, духовно созерцающие божественное и небесное. Ибо сегодня мы так же отчетливо видим Христа в Евангелии, как если бы Он предстоял перед нами телесно. В этом смысле Павел утверждает (Гал.3:1), что Христос как бы распят перед нашим взором. Посему, если мы хотим видеть во Христе то, что сделает нас блаженными и счастливыми, научимся веровать, даже не видя Его. Этим словам Христа отвечает сказанное в 1Пет.1:8, где Петр хвалит верующих, любящих Христа, Которого не видели, и радующихся радостью неизреченною, хотя и не созерцали Его лично.

Паписты же извращают эти слова для доказательства своего пресуществления, и поступают более чем глупо. Чтобы мы были блаженными, они приказывают нам верить в то, что Христос сокрыт под видом хлеба. Но, мы знаем, Христос меньше всего хотел подчинить веру человеческим измышлениям. Ведь если вера хоть на йоту отклонится от Слова, она перестанет быть верою. Если надлежит без разбора верить во все то, что невидимо, люди могут изобретать любую глупость, выдумывать любую басню, и обязывать тем самым нашу веру. Итак, чтобы применить в данном случае слова Христа, надо, во-первых, доказать, что истина, о которой идет речь, основана на Слове Божием. Они, действительно, приводят Слово в поддержку своего пресуществления, но, истолкованное здраво, оно ничем им не помогает.

 

 

 

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 20:29". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-20.html. 1840-57.

Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books

Ver. 29. In itself, this address of the disciple would not have a decisive value. It might be an exaggeration of feeling. But what gives it an absolute importance is the manner in which Jesus receives it. The Lord does not check this outbreak of feeling, like the angel of the Apocalypse, who says to John:

"Worship God!" He answers, on the contrary: "Thou hast believed," and thus accepts the expression by which Thomas has proclaimed His divinity. In an article by Lien (May, 1869), it is objected that this approving answer of Jesus may refer not to the expression: My God, but to the belief of Thomas in the fact of the resurrection. But if Jesus had approved of the exclamation of the disciple only in part, He would have found the means of removing the alloy, while preserving the pure gold.

The perfect πεπίστευκας, thou hast believed, signifies: "Thou art henceforth in possession of faith." This verb might also be taken in an interrogative sense. For Meyer observes, not without reason, that there is in the words: because thou hast seen, a shade of reproach which accords well with this sense.

In the last words Jesus points out the entirely new character of the era which is beginning, that of a faith which should be contented with testimony, without claiming to be founded on sight, as that of Thomas had done.

This saying closes the history of the development of faith in the apostles, and gives a glimpse of the new phase which is about to begin—that of the faith of the Church resting upon the apostolic testimony. Baur thinks that Jesus here opposes to faith in external facts that which has its contents only in itself, in the idea of which the believer is henceforth fully conscious. But John 20:30-31 express a thought directly opposite to this. So Baur has declared them to be interpolated, without the least proof. The contrast which Jesus points out is altogether different: it is that of a carnal faith, which in order to accept a miracle wishes absolutely to see it, and a faith of a moral nature, which accepts the divine fact on the foundation of a testimony which is worthy of confidence. It was granted to Thomas to be saved on the former path; but from this time forward it will be necessary to content oneself with the second. Otherwise faith would be no longer possible in the world except on condition of miracles renewed unceasingly and celestial appearances repeating themselves for every individual. This is not to be the course of the divine work on earth.

The aorist participle ἰδόντες, properly: who shall have seen, indicates an anterior act with relation to faith, and the aorist participle πιστεύσαντες, who have believed, is spoken from the standpoint of the development of the Church regarded as consummated.

This answer of Jesus to Thomas is the normal close of the fourth Gospel. It indicates the limit of development of the apostolic faith, and the starting-point of the new era which is to succeed it on the earth. The apostolic faith, as it has just risen to the full height of its object, will be able henceforth to re-echo throughout the world by means of the testimony of the chosen messengers, so as incessantly to reproduce itself.

On the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Strauss has said, in speaking of the resurrection of Jesus: "Here is the decisive point, where the naturalistic view must retract all its previous assertions or succeed in explaining the belief in the resurrection without bringing in a miraculous fact." And Strauss is right. The question here is of a miracle sui generis, of the miracle properly so called. The usual expedients for explaining the miracles of Jesus, "the hidden forces of spontaneity," the mysterious influence exerted upon the nerves "by the contact of an exquisite person"—all this has no longer any application here; for no other human being co-operated in the resurrection of Jesus, if it took place. If Jesus really came forth alive from the tomb after His crucifixion, there is nothing left but to say with St. Peter: GOD has raised up Jesus.

It is said: Such a fact would overthrow the laws of nature. But what if it were, on the contrary, the law of nature, when thoroughly understood, which required this fact? Death is the wages of sin. If Jesus lived here below as innocent and pure, if He lived in God and of God, as He Himself says in John 6:57, life must be the crown of this unique conqueror. No doubt He may have given Himself up voluntarily to death to fulfil the law which condemns sinful humanity; but might not this stroke of death, affecting a nature perfectly sound, morally and physically, meet in it exceptional forces capable of reacting victoriously against all the powers of dissolution? As necessarily as a life of sin ends in death, so necessarily does perfect holiness end in life, and consequently, if there has been death, in the resurrection. Natural law, therefore, far from being contrary to this fact, is the thing which requires it.

But if this fact is rational, when once the perfect holiness of Jesus is admitted, is it possible? To deny that it is, would be to affirm an irreducible dualism between being and virtue. It would be to deny monotheism. The divine will is the basis of being, and the essence of this will is to move towards the good. In creating being it has therefore reserved to itself the means of realizing the good in all the forms of existence and of causing the absolute sovereignty of holiness to be triumphant in the being. This is all that we can determine a priori from the theistic standpoint. "Every historian," says Strauss, "should possess philosophy enough to be able to deny the miracle here as well as elsewhere." Every true historian, we will answer, should have philosophy enough, above all, to let the word yield to the facts, here as elsewhere.

Let us, in the first place, study the four, or rather the five, narratives of the appearances of the Risen One.

I. The Narratives.

John mentions three appearances of Jesus (to Mary Magdalene, the Twelve, Thomas), all three in Judea and in the week which followed the resurrection.

Is this to say that the author did not know of a larger number? The twenty-first chapter, which proceeds from him directly or indirectly, proves the contrary. For this chapter mentions a new one which took place in Galilee. That to Thomas closes the Gospel properly so called, for the reasons which belong to the plan and aim of the work (see on John 20:28-29).

Matthew relates two appearances: that to the women in Judea, which seems to be only a generalized double of the appearance to Mary Magdalene (in John), and that to the Eleven on the mountain where He had appointed for them a meeting-place. It was in the latter that Christ made known to the apostles His elevation to the Messianic royalty, to the sovereignty over all things. This is the reason why it closes the first Gospel, which is designed to demonstrate the Messianic dignity of Jesus, and in the view of the author serves to sum up all the others. This took place in Galilee, like that of the twenty-first chapter of John.

If we set aside the unauthentic end of Mark, we find in this Gospel only the promise of an appearance to the believers in Galilee. We are ignorant of what the true conclusion of this work must have contained. What we now possess, composed from John and Luke, mentions the appearance to Mary Magdalene (John) and those to the two from Emmaus and to the disciples on the evening of the day of the resurrection (Luke).

Luke mentions three appearances: that on the road to Emmaus, that to Peter, that to the disciples on the evening of the first day; all three in Judea and on the very day of the resurrection. It would be difficult to believe that he did not know of others, since he had labored for the evangelization of the Gentile world with St. Paul, who, as we are about to see, mentions several others. Luke himself, in Acts 1:3, speaks of forty days during which Jesus showed Himself alive to the apostles. He simply desired, therefore, to report the first appearances which served to establish in the hearts of the apostles the belief in the fact of the resurrection.

As for Paul, he enumerates in 1 Corinthians 15:3 ff., as facts appertaining to the apostolic tradition which he has himself received, first the appearances to Peter and to the Twelve which immediately followed the resurrection; then a later appearance to more than five hundred brethren, some of whom he himself knew personally; moreover, two appearances, one to James, the other to all the apostles. Finally, to these five he adds that which was granted to himself on the road to Damascus.

We are already acquainted with the first two, one from Luke, the other from Luke and John. The third surprises us, since it is not related in any of the four gospels. But it is probably identical with that of which Matthew speaks, which took place on the mountain of Galilee, whither Jesus had summoned all His followers from before His death (Matthew 26:32, Mark 14:28), though in Matthew He addresses only the Eleven in order to call them to their mission to the whole world. The fourth (James), mentioned by Paul alone, is confirmed by the conversion of the four brothers of Jesus (Acts 1:14). The fifth (all the apostles) is evidently that of the ascension, the word all alluding not to James, as has been thought, but rather to Thomas, who had been absent at the time of the first appearance to the Eleven. If mention is not made of the first two appearances in John and Luke, those to Mary Magdalene and the two from Emmaus, it is because they have a private character, Mary and the two disciples not belonging to the circle of the official witnesses chosen by Jesus to declare publicly what concerned Him.

Notwithstanding the diversity of these accounts, it is not difficult to reconstruct by their means the whole course of things. There are ten appearances known:

1. That to Mary, in the morning, at the sepulchre (John and Matthew);

2. That to the two from Emmaus, in the afternoon of the first day (Luke and Mark);

3. That to Peter, a little later, but on the same day (Luke and Paul);

4. That to the Eleven (without Thomas), in the evening of this first day (John, Luke, Mark);

5. That to Thomas, eight days afterwards (John);

6. That to the seven disciples, on the shore of the sea of Galilee (John

7. That to the five hundred believers, on the mountain of Galilee (Matthew, Paul);

8. That to James (Paul);

9. That of the ascension (Luke, Paul). Finally, to complete the whole: 10. That to Paul, some years afterwards, on the road to Damascus.

Evidently no one had kept an exact protocol of what occurred in the days which followed the resurrection. Each evangelist has drawn from the treasure of the common recollections what was within his reach, and reproduced what best answered the purpose of his writing. They did not dream of the future critics; simplicity is the daughter of good faith. But what is striking in this apparent disorder is the remarkable moral gradation in the succession of these appearances. In the first ones, Jesus consoles; He is in the presence of broken hearts (Mary, the two from Emmaus, Peter). In the following ones (the Twelve, Thomas), He labors, above all, to establish faith in the great fact which has just been accomplished. In the last ones, He more particularly directs the eyes of His followers towards the future by preparing them for the great work of their mission. It is thus, indeed, that He must have spoken and acted, if He really acted and spoke as risen from the dead.

II. The Fact.

What really occurred, which gave occasion to the narratives which we have just studied?

According to the contemporary Jews, whose assertion was reproduced in the second century by Celsus and in the eighteenth by the author of the Wolfenbuttel Fragments, the answer is: nothing at all. This whole history of the resurrection of Jesus is only a fable, the fruit of a premeditated deception on the part of the apostles. They had themselves put the body of Jesus out of the way, and then proclaimed His resurrection.

To this explanation we cannot reply better than by saying, with Strauss: "Without the faith of the apostles in the resurrection of Jesus, the Church would never have been born." After the death of their Master the apostles were too much disheartened to invent such a fiction, and it was from the conviction of His resurrection that they drew the triumphant faith which was the soul of their ministry. The existence of the Church which has religiously renewed the world is explained with yet greater difficulty by a falsehood than by a miracle.

Others, Strauss at their head, answer: Something occurred, but something purely internal and subjective. The apostles were, not impostors, but dupes of their own imagination. They sincerely believed that they saw the appearances which they have related. On the day of Jesus" death, or the next day, they fled to Galilee; and, on finding themselves again in the places where they had lived with Him, they imagined that they saw and heard Him again; these hallucinations were continued during some weeks, and here is what gave rise to the narratives of the appearances.

But, 1. From this point of view, the first scenes of the appearances of Jesus must be placed in Galilee, not in Jerusalem, as is the case in all the narratives, even in that which may be called the most decidedly Galilean—that of Matthew (Matthew 28:1-10).

2. According to all the accounts, and even according to the calumny against the disciples invented by the Jews, the body of Jesus, after the descent from the cross, was left in the hands of the Lord"s friends. Now, in the presence of the dead body, all the hallucinations must have vanished. We shall thus be brought back to the first explanation, which makes the disciples impostors— an explanation which Strauss himself declares impossible. If it is said: The Jews got possession of the body and carried it off,—they worked in this case against themselves and for the success of the falsehood which they ascribed to the apostles. And why not bring into broad daylight this point tending to prove criminality instead of confining themselves to accusing the disciples of having put Him out of the way?

3. The hallucinations which are supposed are incompatible with the state of mind of the disciples at this time. The believers so little expected the resurrection of Jesus that it was for the purpose of embalming His body that the women repaired to the sepulchre. If they still had a hope, by reason of the promises which the Lord had made to them before His death, it was that of His return from heaven, whither they believed that He had gone. "Remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom," said the thief on the cross. And this, indeed, was undoubtedly what the disciples from Emmaus meant when they said, Luke 24:21 : "Already it is the third day since these things came to pass." The restoration to life of His body broken on the cross was not dreamed of by any one. What those hoped for who hoped for anything was a Parousia, not a resurrection properly so called. And this also is what they think that they behold at the first moment, when Jesus appears to them; they take Him for a pure spirit returning from heaven. How in such a condition of mind could they have been themselves the creators of the appearances of the Risen One?

4. And what if these appearances consisted only in a luminous figure, an ethereal form floating in the distance, seen between heaven and earth, and soon vanishing in the sky? But it is a person who approaches, who asks them to touch him, who converses with them, who blames them for seeing in him only a spirit, who speaks in a definite way and joins acts with his words ("He breathed on them, saying: Receive ye the Holy Spirit"), who gives positive orders (to assemble on a mountain, to baptize the nations, to tarry in Jerusalem), who has friendly conversations with some of them (the two from Emmaus, Thomas, Peter); hallucination does not comport with such features. We must always come back to the supposition of fiction and falsehood. As to a legendary formation, it cannot be thought of here, since Paul, even during the lifetime of the witnesses, alludes to all these accounts.

5. That a nervous person has hallucinations is a fact often noticed; but that a second person shares these illusions is a thing unexampled. Now this phenomenon takes place simultaneously not in two, but in eleven, and soon even in five hundred persons (1 Corinthians 15:6). The hallucinated Camisards of Cevennes are cited, it is true. But the noises which they heard in the air, the rolling of drums, the singing of psalms, do not in any respect resemble the definite communications which the Lord had with those to whom He appeared and the distinct sight of His person and His features. And if all this were only visions beheld simultaneously by so large a number of persons, it would be necessary to imagine the whole company of the believers raised to such a strange and morbid degree of exaltation that it would become absolutely incompatible with the calm self-possession, the admirable clearness of mind, the practical energy of will, which every one is forced to admire in the founders of the Church.

6. But the most insoluble difficulty for the partisans of this hypothesis is that which Keim has better set forth than any one else

I mean the sudden ending of the appearances. At the end of a few weeks, after eight or nine visions so precise that Paul counts them, as it were, on his fingers—on a certain marked day, that of the ascension, all is over. The visions cease as suddenly as they came; the five hundred who were exalted have returned, as if by enchantment, to cold blood. The Lord, ever living to their faith, has disappeared from their imagination. Although far inferior in intensity, the Montanist exaltation endured for a full half century. Here, at the end of six weeks, the cessation is complete, absolutely ended. In the presence of this fact, it becomes evident that an external cause presided over these extraordinary manifestations, and that, when the cause ceased to act, the phenomenon came to its end. We are thus brought to seek for the historical fact which forms the basis of the narratives that we are studying.

I. Some modern writers (Paulus, Schleiermacher, and others) think that the death of Jesus was only apparent, and that after a long swoon He came to Himself again under the influence of the aromatics and the cool air of the sepulchre. Some Essenic friends also perhaps aided Him with their care. He appeared again, accordingly, among His followers like one risen from the dead; such is the foundation of the accounts of the appearances which we read in our gospels.— Strauss has refuted this hypothesis better than any one else. How, after so cruel a punishment as that of the cross, could Jesus, having been restored by purely natural means, move with perfect ease, go on foot to a distance of some leagues from Jerusalem, and also return to that city the same afternoon; how could He be present without any one seeing His entrance; and disappear without any one noticing His departure? How, above all, could a person who was half dead, who was with difficulty dragged out of his tomb, whose feeble vital breath could not, in any case, have been preserved except by means of care and considerate measures, have produced on the apostles the triumphant impression of a conqueror of death, of the prince of life, and by the sight of Himself have transformed their sadness into enthusiasm, their disheartenment into adoration? And then, finally, in the interval between these visits, what became of this moribund person? Where did He conceal Himself? And how did He bring to an end this strange kind of life in which He was obliged to conceal Himself even from His friends? The critics would persuade us that He died in a Phoenician inn, sparing His disciples the knowledge of this sad ending;...it must also be added: leaving them to believe in His triumph over death, and boldly to preach His resurrection! This is imposture transferred from the disciples to the Master Himself. Does it become thereby more admissible?

II. The opinion which, without denying the miracle, approaches most nearly to the preceding, is that of Reuss and de Pressense . There was in the case of Jesus a real return to life, but in exactly the same body which had previously served Him as an organ. In fact, this body still bears the prints of the nails and of the spear-thrust. De Pressense adds, in proof of this explanation, that Jesus, after the walk to Emmaus, did not reach Jerusalem till a certain time after His two travelling companions, since He did not go to the company of the disciples in the upper chamber until after the arrival of the latter. He will allow us to attach no great importance to this argument. Why could there not have been an interval between the time of His return and that of His appearance in the chamber where the disciples were assembled? Is it not clear that the Lord"s body, although identical in some respects with His previous body, underwent by means of the miraculous fact of the resurrection a profound transformation of nature, and that from that time it lived and acted in entirely new conditions? It appears and disappears in a sudden manner, it obeys the will so far as to become visible in an apartment the doors of which had not opened, it is not recognized by those in whose midst Jesus had passed His life. All this does not allow us to believe that the resurrection consisted for Jesus, as it did for the dead whom He had Himself raised to life, only in a return to the life in His former body. They had returned into their former sphere of infirmity and death; Jesus entered within the higher sphere of incorruptibility.

III. Weiss puts forth an entirely opposite opinion. According to him, the resurrection was the complete glorification of the Lord"s body, which from this time became the spiritual body of which St. Paul speaks, 1 Corinthians 15:44-49. But how are we to explain in that case the sensible appearances of Jesus? For there is no relation between such a body and our earthly senses. It only remains to hold, with Weiss, an act of condescension by which the Risen One appropriated to Himself, at certain moments, a sensible form, which He afterwards laid aside. But this material form was not an envelopment of some sort; it bore the traces of the wounds which had been inflicted upon it on the cross. Was there only an appearance here, a sort of disguise? This is impossible. Or, if these visible prints were real, how could they belong to the spiritual body? Moreover, if we take into account the words of the Lord to Mary: "I am not yet ascended, but I ascend to my Father and your Father," it is impossible to mistake the difference between the resurrection and the complete glorification of the Lord. We see from this declaration that the resurrection is indeed the entrance into a higher state, but that this state is not yet perfect. There remains a place for a last divine act, the ascension, which will introduce Him into His state of final glory.

IV. There is only a shade of difference between the theory of Weiss and Sabatier (set forth in theChristianisme au XIX sie:cle, April, 1880). According to the latter there was no return to life for the body put to death on the cross; the real fact was the reappearance of the Lord with an entirely new body, the spiritual body of which St. Paul speaks. The material elements of the body in which Jesus had lived here on earth are returned to the earth.

At the foundation, what Sabatier thus teaches is nothing else than what the disciples expected, a Parousia, Jesus glorified returning from the other life, but not a resurrection. And yet it is a fact that the reality did not correspond to the expectation of the disciples, but that it went completely beyond it. They went to embalm; they tried to find where the body had been laid; and it was this body which was alive!

Then how can we explain otherwise than by a resurrection the tomb found empty? We have seen that the two suppositions of a removal by the disciples or by the Jews are equally impossible. The return of the material elements to the earth must have been effected by the hands of some agent. Could Jesus have been the digger of His own grave?— Besides, how could Jesus, with a purely spiritual body, have said to the disciples: "Touch me," show them His wounds, ask them for food, and this to the end of convincing them of the material reality of the body which He had?

Sabatier answers that these details are found only in Luke and John, who present to us the appearances under a form materialized by legend, while the normal tradition is still found in Matthew and Mark, and besides in Paul (1 Corinthians 15). In Matthew? But he relates that the women laid hold of the feet of Jesus; the feet of a spiritual body? In Mark? But we do not have the conclusion of Mark"s narrative. In Paul? But he enumerates five appearances, some of which are identical with those of Luke, and he thus confirms the accounts of the latter. Is it probable, moreover, that Luke, St Paul"s companion in preaching, had on this fundamental point of the resurrection of the Lord a different view from the apostle? And what does Paul himself desire to prove in the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians? That we shall receive a new body without any organic relation to our present body? On the contrary, he emphasizes in every way the close bond of union between these two successive organs of our personality. It is this mortal which will put on immortality, this corruptible which will put on incorruption. Only the corruptible elements of flesh and blood will be excluded from this transformation, which, according to Philippians 3:21, will make of the body of our humiliation a body of glory like the present body of the Lord. For a resurrection Sabatier substitutes a creation. By breaking every bond between the present body and the future body, he does away with the victory of the Lord over death, and consequently over sin and condemnation, and thus, while thinking only to treat of a secondary point, does violence to the essence of the Christian redemption.

V. The strangest means of escaping from the notion of a corporeal resurrection and yet attributing some objectivity to the appearances of the Lord was imagined by Weisse, and then adopted and developed by Keim. The appearances of Jesus risen from the dead were spiritual manifestations of Jesus glorified to the minds of His disciples. Their reality belonged only to the inner world; they were nevertheless positive historical facts. But the disappearance of the body of Jesus remains still unexplained, as in most of the preceding hypotheses. And what a strange way of acting is that of a being, pure spirit, who, appearing to the mind of His followers, should take so much pains to prove to them that He is indeed flesh and bones, and not pure spirit! And how should the apostles, who were so little expecting a bodily resurrection, have come to substitute for purely spiritual revelations gross material facts?

After having exhausted all these so different explanations, we return to the thought which naturally comes forth from the words of the Lord: "I am not yet ascended, but I ascend." The interval between the resurrection and the ascension of the Lord was a period of transition. He had indeed recovered His former body, but, through the change which was made in His personal position, this body was subjected to new conditions of existence. It was not yet the spiritual body, but the spirit disposed of it more freely; it was already the docile organ of the will. Thus are the opposite phenomena explained which characterize the manifestations of the Lord in this period of His existence; in particular, the sudden appearances and disappearances. Objection is made because of this fact: that the Lord ate. There would be reason in this objection if He ate for hunger, but this act was not the result of a need. He wished to show that He could eat—that is to say, that His body was real, that He was not a pure spirit or a phantom. The ascension consummated what the resurrection had begun.

There are three miracles in the development of nature: 1. The appearance of matter; 2. The appearance of life in matter; 3. The appearance of the conscious and free will in the domain of life. There are three decisive miracles in the history of the Lord: 1. His coming in the flesh, or His entrance into material existence; 2. The realization of life, of holy communion with God in this corporeal existence; 3. The elevation of this life to the liberty of the divine life by the resurrection and ascension.

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Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on John 20:29". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsc/john-20.html.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

THE BEATITUDE OF FAITH

‘Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.’

John 20:29

Let us ask wherein lies the blessedness of faith, and what are the claims that it makes upon us, if we are to share in the promised benediction.

I. There is one marked difference between this blessing and those others which form the preface to the Sermon on the Mount.—There in each case reasons are given; a specific reward is spoken of as bestowed upon each grace. But no special reward of faith is spoken of in the text. It is not said that the faithful and trusting soul is blessed, for it shall receive the consolations of hope and of assurance. We might, indeed, have expected that our Lord would have given us some such promise. Faith is its own reward; and the law of faith is this: ‘Whosoever hath, to him shall be given.’ Now here is for us a consolation not unneeded at times. Faith may be very true and loyal, and yet may not always be attended by the confident joy and hopefulness of which the Psalmists speak, of which St. Paul speaks, with such assurance. That, indeed, must come in the end; but we dare not permit ourselves to be distressed or despairing because we have it not in such full measure as they.

II. What, then, after all, is this belief?—It seems to be a different thing from open vision, from full assurance. How are we to be sure that we have it? how are we to gain it and make it our own? A mere speculative conviction as to the truth of this or that principle affects conduct but little. There is such a thing as faith without works; but it is dead. Faith in God, in our Blessed Lord Himself, means more than belief such as this; it means trust in a Person.

III. There are two tests by which we may try our faith—the readiness of our obedience, the intensity of our prayers.

(a) Obedience. It is not only a test; it is a source of faith. It is in trying to do God’s will that we learn to hear His voice.

(b) A second test is the reality of our prayers. Prayer is the most rational of all habits; but no man will ever satisfy himself that it is so, unless he prays in his own person and for his own needs. Belief in the efficacy of prayer is best gained in prayer. And for him who believes in that there is nothing that can trouble him, though much that he may not fully understand in the teaching of Jesus Christ his Lord.

—Dean J. H. Bernard.

Illustration

‘On the wall of York Minster there is fixed an ancient sundial: and underneath, a legend is written which is a parable of life: Lucem demonstrat umbra, “Shadows point to the sun.” Were it not for the sun, there would be no shadow; and the direction of the shadow indicates where the source of light may be seen in the heavens. And so with faith in God. Let us observe where it seems faintest, and why; and we shall learn from the shadow of doubt the direction from which the light comes.’

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on John 20:29". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/john-20.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

Ver. 29. Blessed are they that have not seen] We see Christ in the flesh by the eyes of the apostles; like as the Israelites saw Canaan by the eyes of the spies; and this is sufficient unto faith, as the evangelist showeth in the next verses.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 20:29". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-20.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

John 20:29

I. St. Thomas loved his Master, as became an apostle, and was devoted to his service; but when he saw Him crucified, his faith failed for a season with that of the rest. Being weak in faith, he suspended his judgment, and seemed resolved not to believe anything till he was told everything. Accordingly, when our Saviour appeared to him, eight days after His appearance to the rest, while He allowed Thomas his wish, and satisfied the senses that He was really alive, He accompanied the permission with a rebuke, and intimated that by yielding to his weakness, He was withdrawing from him what was a real blessedness. Consider then the nature of the believing temper, and why it is blessed.

I. Every religious mind, under every dispensation of Providence, will be in the habit of looking out of and beyond self, as regards all matters connected with the highest good. For a man of religious mind is he who attends to the rule of conscience, which is born with him, which he did not make for himself, and to which he feels bound in duty to submit. And conscience immediately diverts his thoughts to some Being exterior to himself, who gave it, and who evidently is superior to him; for a law implies a lawgiver, and a command implies a superior. He looks forth into the world to seek Him who is not of the world, to find behind the shadows and deceits of this shifting scene of time and sense, Him whose word is eternal, and whose presence is spiritual. This is the course of a religious mind, even when it is not blessed with the news of divine truth; and how much more will it welcome and gladly commit itself to the hand of God, when allowed to discern it in the Gospel. Such is faith as it arises in the multitude of those who believe, arising from their sense of the presence of God, originally certified to them by the inward voice of conscience.

II. This blessed temper of mind, which influences religious men in the greater matter of choosing or rejecting the Gospel, extends itself also into their reception of it in all its parts. As faith is content with but a little light to begin its journey by, and makes it much by acting upon it, so also it reads, as it were by twilight, the message of truth in its various details. It keeps steadily in view that Christ speaks in Scripture, and receives His words as if it heard them, as if some superior and friend spoke them, One whom it wished to please. Lastly, it rests contented with the revelation made to it; it has "found the Messias," and that is enough. The very principle of its former restlessness now keeps it from wandering when the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding to know the true God; wavering, fearfulness, superstitious trust in the creature, pursuit of novelties, are signs, not of faith, but of unbelief.

J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. ii., p. 13.


Not Seeing, yet Believing

I. It would be a vain and presumptuous thing to attempt to determine positively what was the cause of Thomas's unbelief, on the occasion to which these words refer. Some have endeavoured to excuse him altogether. But our Saviour's few emphatic words plainly show some failing in his mind, which was not to be justified. Otherwise He would not have said, "Be not faithless." However, it is quite according to what we all feel in our own hearts, to suppose that two feelings met in Thomas's mind. One entirely bad—a proud feeling—that having been absent on the previous Sunday, on the occasion of Christ's showing Himself to His other disciples, being vexed with himself, he did not like to receive from others what he would so much rather have witnessed himself. This supposition is confirmed by the resoluteness of the language he uses about it—for we never use resolute language unless we are conscious of an inward vexation. And the other feeling which Thomas probably had in his mind was this, that he wished it it to be just as he said; but the very eagerness of his desire became its own stumbling block, the intensity of the light made the light invisible—in other words, it was "too good to be true."

II. Now, take it either way, or take it both ways, and there are many Thomases. But wherein was Thomas's error? Does God expect us to believe on insufficient evidence? Thomas's error was this: Christ, before He died, had spoken the word—He had spoken it more than once—He had said "I will rise again." If the Lord had not said this, Thomas might have been excused; for then he would only have been disbelieving man; but now, when he was told that Christ had appeared, he ought to have recollected what he had heard Christ Himself say. He was responsible to do that; and against that word of Christ's, he ought not to have allowed any circumstances of sense or reason, however strong they might be, and however they might run counter to it, to weigh one single feather. The inference is clear, that whoever would be blessed must feel and show he feels the absolute claim, and the full certainty, and the entire supremacy of every word of Almighty God.

J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 2nd series, p. 335.


I. Our Lord does not treat the doubt of Thomas as a sin. There is not the slightest trace of fault-finding in what He says to him. He only tells him that his is not the most blessed state. The most blessed state is that of those who can believe without such proof as this. There are such minds. There are minds to whom the inward proof is everything. They believe not on the evidence of their senses or of their mere reason, but on that of their consciences and hearts. Their spirits within them are so attuned to the truth that the moment it is presented to them they accept it at once. And this is certainly far the higher state—the more blessed, the more heavenly. But still the doubt of St. Thomas was not a sinful doubt.

II. St. Thomas's doubt is a type and his character an example of what is common among Christians. There are many who are startled at times by strange perplexities. Doubts arise in their minds, or are suggested by others, about doctrines which they have always taken for granted, or about facts connected with those doctrines. What shall we do when we find these difficulties arise? (1) In the first place let us not permit them to shake our hold of God and of conscience. However far our doubts may go, they cannot root up from within us, without our own consent; the power which claims to guide our lives with supreme authority. They cannot obliterate from within us the sense of right and wrong, and of the everlasting difference between them. By this a man may yet live if he have nothing else to live by, and God will assuredly give him more in his own good time. (2) But again, let us not treat such doubts as sins, which they are not, but as perplexities, which they are. As we must not quit our hold on God, so do not let us fancy that God has quitted His hold on us. Doubts are in fact as much the messengers of God's providence as any other voices that reach us. They may distress us, but they cannot destroy us, for we are in the hands of God. (3) In all such cases remember St. Thomas, and feel sure that what is wanting Christ will give. You are not called on to believe till you are fully able to do so; but you are called on to trust.

Bishop Temple, Rugby Sermons, 1st series, p. 90.


References: John 20:29.—Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes: Gospels and Acts, p. 172; T. J. Crawford, The Preaching of the Cross, p. 174; C. Kingsley, Town and Country Sermons, p. 414; H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. i., p. 329; W. Frankland, Ibid., vol. xxviii., p. 180; vol. ii., p. 340; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. vi., p. 1; J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 2nd series, p. 335; F. W. Robertson, Sermons, 2nd series, p. 268; G. Macdonald, Unspoken Sermons, p. 50; T. T. Lynch, Sermons for my Curates, p. 33.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on John 20:29". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/john-20.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

John 20:29. Because thou hast seen me, &c.— The word seen, according to the Hebrew idiom, is often applied to the other senses; and therefore may here signify that Thomas had the unitedtestimony of all his senses, that Christ had a real, that is to say, a material body. See 1 John 1:1 and Acts 10:41. The words, blessed are they, &c. may in their original application be understood as a commendation of those then present, who had believed that Christ was risen before they had seen him, or without requiring such proof as Thomas sought for. But as they are indefinite, and imply no certain time, they may be extended even to the case of those to whom the gospel was to be proposed, by the apostles then, and by their successors after them. Accordingly, as in these words our Saviour tacitly reproves Thomas for his incredulity, in not believing a matter of fact so well attested, unless he himself saw it; so he lays down an universal proposition for the encouragement of all mankind in future ages, to believe in him, though they had not seen him.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on John 20:29". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/john-20.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Here we have Christ's reprehension of Thomas for not believing without such sensible evidence as he desired. He believed now that Christ was risen from the dead, but it was upon the testimony of his senses only. Therefore Christ tells him, that his faith would have been more excellent and more eminently rewardable, if he had believed without such demonstrative evidence: Faith is the evidence of things not seen. Therefore to give credit to a thing upon the evidence of a sense, is not properly believing.

Observe farther, how Christ pronounces them blessed, who should hereafter believe on him through the preaching of the gospel, though they did not see him as Thomas did, nor handle him as he might. this is a sure rule, that by how much our faith stands in less need of the external evidence of sense, the stronger our faith is, and the more acceptable it is, provided what we believe be revealed in the word of God: Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on John 20:29". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/john-20.html. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

29.] The ὅτι ἑώρ. blames the slowness and required ground of the faith: the πεπίστευκας recognizes and commends the soundness of that faith just confessed.

Meyer remarks on the perf. πεπίστευκας, “thou hast become believing and now believest,” and the aorr. ἰδόντες and πιστεύσαντες, which are not usitative (an usage never occurring in the N.T.), but indicate the state of those described from the time of the μακαριότης predicated of them, “who never saw, and yet became believers.” The aorists, as often in such sentences (see a remarkable coincidence Luke 1:45), indicate the present state of those spoken of, grounded in the past.

Wonderful indeed, and rich in blessing for us who have not seen Him, is this, the closing word of the Gospel. For these words cannot apply to the remaining Ten: they, like Thomas, had seen and believed. “All the appearances of the forty days,” says Stier (vii. 139, edn. 2), “were mere preparations for the believing without seeing.” On the record of them, we now believe: see 1 Peter 1:8.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 20:29". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/john-20.html. 1863-1878.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

John 20:29. ἑώρακας) thou hast seen and hast touched Me.— πεπίστευκας, thou hast believed) Thou dost exercise faith.— μακάριοι, blessed) The blessedness of Thomas is not denied, but the rare and richly-favoured lot of those is specially declared, who believe without seeing. For even in the case of the rest of the apostles, it was when they had seen, and not until then that they believed. [There is hardly a doubt but that the apostles accounted the general multitude of believers who had not seen Jesus, as standing higher in that respect than themselves.—V. g.]

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 20:29". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/john-20.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Thou believest that I am risen from the dead upon the testimony of thy senses; thou doest well in that: thou hast seen, thou hast felt me; but it is a more noble faith to believe without any such sensible evidence. Faith is properly an assent given to a proposition upon the testimony of revelation, which if it be but human it is no more than a human faith; as we give credit to what our neighbours tell us, though we have not seen it with our own eyes, nor heard it with our ears immediately, nor had it made evident to any of our senses. If the revelation to which the assent is given be from God, we call the assent that is given to it a Divine faith; so that to give credit to a thing upon the evidence of sense, is properly no believing, otherwise than as sense confirms what we have before received by a Divine revelation. This is a sure rule, that by how much our faith stands in less need of an external evidence of sense, the stronger it is.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 20:29". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/john-20.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

Иисус предвидел то время, когда не будет доступно такое осязаемое свидетельство, какое получил Фома. Когда Иисус вознесется к Отцу, все верующие будут веровать, не имея преимущества видеть воскресшего Господа. Иисус заявил об особом благословении для тех, кто верует, не имея привилегии Фомы (1Пет. 1:8, 9).

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on John 20:29". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/john-20.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Blessed are they; they who like Thomas believe in Christ, and though they have not seen him, acknowledge him as their Lord and their God.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 20:29". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/john-20.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

29.Hast seen—The word seen here implies the evidence not only of sight but of either or all the senses.

Have not seen, and yet have believed—The visible tangible Christ will soon depart from the earth, to be seen no more. The doctrine and the power of his life and death will come forth to the faith of the world. The hearts and souls that rightly will to accept it, must do it by a faith that is above sight and above sense. Many will say, like Thomas, that they can only believe upon sensible demonstration. They will not be convinced but upon the highest possible proof; proof which shall meet their utmost exaction and leave doubt impossible. Some will do this in a spirit of low sensuality; some in a spirit of scientific indifference or intellectual pride. But all who in a true sense deserve to be saved will be saved; and none but those who deserve to be damned will be damned.

Blessed—In what sense blessed? In no single, but in every divine sense. As faith in its full power procures, so this blessedness includes the full fruition of all that the Gospel offers or the atonement brings to man. Very wise were the words of Pfenninger, quoted by Stier: “Is not Thomas a pledge of all who, like him, are slow to believe, that every severe word spoken to unbelief refers to those who will not believe? As to this not-able and not-willing, God will judge.” That is, God will judge whether the not-able is an honest inability to believe when there is the spirit of faith, or whether it be a not-willing, deceiving the obstinate unbeliever into the false opinion that he is not able to believe.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 20:29". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-20.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘Jesus says to him, “Because you have seen, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Response in faith to the word of God is here seen as the supreme achievement. Many believe for many reasons, but full response to God in response to His word is seen as the ultimate in blessedness.

John began his Gospel by declaring that ‘the Word was God’, so that ‘we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten son of the Father’ (John 1:1; John 1:14). Here he ends it (initially) with Thomas’ declaration “My Lord and my God”, the supreme declaration of faith that would in future determine who was a true believer (Romans 10:9).

John 20:29 is then addressed to the readers calling on them to show that supreme faith which, without seeing, accepts the fullness of the truth of Christ’s deity.

Final Summary.

The call to faith. John calls his readers to share the same faith as Thomas in the fact that Jesus is ‘my Lord and my God’ on the basis of what he has written.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on John 20:29". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/john-20.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

We could translate Jesus" first sentence as either a question or a statement. It confirmed the reality of Thomas" belief in either case, and it prepared for the beatitude that followed (cf. John 13:17). "Blessed" (Gr. makarios) does more than just describe the person in view as happy. It also declares him or her acceptable to God (cf. Matthew 5:3-12).

Most believers have believed on Jesus because of sufficient evidence without the physical confirmation that Thomas required (cf. John 20:8; 1 Peter 1:8-9). Those were the people whom Jesus had in view when He made this statement. This beatitude does not make believers who live after Jesus" ascension superior to those who saw Him in the flesh. Rather it guarantees their blessing by God.

"Thomas"s declaration is the last assertion of personal faith recorded in this Gospel. It marks the climax of the book because it presents Christ as the risen Lord, victorious over sin, sorrow, doubt, and death. It also presents the faith that accepts not only the truth of what Jesus said but also the actuality of what he was-the Son of God. In the experience of Thomas, the writer has shown how belief comes to maturity and how it changes the entire direction of an individual life." [Note: Tenney, " John," p195.]

"The growth of belief depicted in the Gospel of John thus moves from an initial acceptance on the testimony of another to a personal knowledge marked by loyalty, service, and worship; from assumption of the historicity and integrity of Jesus to a personal trust in Him; from an outward profession to an inward reality; from attending to His teachings to acknowledging His lordship over life. Full belief may not be attained instantly; yet the incipient and tentative belief is not to be despised." [Note: Idem, "Topics from . . .," p357.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 20:29". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/john-20.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

John 20:29. Jesus saith unto him, Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; happy are they that have not seen and yet have believed. The words are intended for the Church now about to be called out of the world,—for the Church of all ages, which by the very necessity of the case must believe without seeing. What then is the contrast which Jesus has in view? Can it be a contrast between faith which wishes to see the miraculous fact in order to accept it, and faith which accepts the fact on the ground of simple testimony? Such an explanation limits unduly the meaning of the word ‘believe.’ It substitutes one kind of seeing for another (for what does testimony do but place us in the position of the original witnesses?); and, by failing to bring us into direct contact with the Person of Jesus, it lowers the state of mind to which the blessedness of the Gospel is attached. The contrast is of a deeper kind,—between a faith resting entirely upon outward evidence of Divine claims, and a faith rising higher and resting upon that intuitive perception of the Divine in Jesus which is afforded by the consideration of what He is in Himself as the Crucified and Risen Lord. In the ages of the Church which were to follow the ‘going away’ of Jesus, it was needful that faith should rest first upon testimony; but it was not to pause there. It was to rest upon the spiritual apprehension of that to which testimony is borne,—of that which the Lord is in Himself as the embodiment of the Divine, and the unchanging spring of the heavenly power and grace which are manifested in His people. Thus to us, who are separated by many centuries from the time when the Lord was personally present in the world, is the blessed assurance given that, though we have not seen Him, we may love Him; and that, though now we see Him not, we may rejoice in Him with a joy unspeakable and glorified (1 Peter 1:8). We need not envy Thomas or his fellow - apostles. They were blessed in their faith; we may be even more blessed in ours. The more we penetrate through the outward to the inward, through the flesh to the spirit, through communion with the earthly to communion with the heavenly Lord, the more do we learn to know the fulness that is in Him, in whom ‘dwelled all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,’ and in whom we are ‘complete’ (Colossians 2:9-10).

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 20:29". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/john-20.html. 1879-90.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Thomas. All the texts omit.

that, &c. = who saw not and believed. See John 4:48. Matthew 16:1. 1 Corinthians 1:22. Those who crave for miracles and signs to-day will have them, but they will be Satan"s miracles.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 20:29". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/john-20.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

Jesus saith unto him, [Thomas]. The word enclosed in brackets is almost totally destitute of authority.

Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed - words of measured commendation, but of indirect, and doubtless painfully felt rebuke: q.d., 'Thou hast indeed believed; it is well; but it is only on the evidence of thy senses, and after peremptorily refusing all evidence short of that.'

Blessed are they that have net seen, and yet have believed. 'Wonderful indeed,' as Alford well says, 'and rich in blessing for us who have not seen Him, is this closing word of the Gospel.'

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 20:29". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-20.html. 1871-8.

The Bible Study New Testament

29. How happy are those who believe without seeing me! [Happy: see note on Matthew 5:3] Thomas believed by “seeing. “ Jesus blesses those who will believe without seeing him in person [on the evidence given by the eyewitnesses]. “For our life is a matter of faith, not of sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

 

 

 

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on John 20:29". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/john-20.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(29) Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed.—The name “Thomas” is omitted in all the better MSS., and the order of the other words suggests that they should be read interrogatively—Jesus saith unto him, Because thou hast seen Me, hast thou believed? The tense of the word rendered “hast thou believed” is the perfect-present—“hast thou become, and art thou a believer?” The command of John 20:27 had done its work, and the words are words of approval; but yet they are not wholly so. He had arrived at conviction by means of the senses, but the higher blessedness was that of those who see by the eye of the spirit and not by that of the body; who base their confidence on the conviction of the faith-faculty, and are independent of the changing phenomena of the senses.

Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.—The truth is expressed in its general form. It is not to be understood in any special sense of the Ten, for the Greek is against it, and the other disciples also had seen and had believed; but it includes all who have become believers without having seen. This blessedness is thought of as existing from the moment of believing, and the act of faith is therefore spoken of in the past tense. The words look forward to the development of the Church which is to be founded upon Apostolic witness, and whose faith must ever be in the unseen. (Comp. Notes on John 1:9 and 1 Peter 1:9.)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 20:29". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-20.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
blessed
8; 4:48; Luke 1:45; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 11:1,27,39; 1 Peter 1:8
Reciprocal: Psalm 1:1 - Blessed;  Matthew 5:3 - Blessed;  Matthew 13:16 - GeneralJohn 1:49 - thou;  John 1:50 - Because

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 20:29". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-20.html.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Ver. 29. "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

Christ recognises therefore that faith also which has sight for its condition. That He will receive to Himself the well-disposed though weak in faith, that He will help their unbelief by actual demonstration, is a blessed truth, of which His treatment of Thomas is a most consolatory pledge. But the Lord places higher that faith which is present and energetic before sight comes. Thomas is here blamed for not exhibiting that faith. John had seen but little; and yet he reproves himself for not having believed without seeing: comp. ver. 8. The case was much worse with Thomas. He had, in the testimony of his bother Apostles, received such help for a faith grounded upon the word of God, that if the faith had been in any sense strong within him, he would not have required any further seeing. As then, so now, it becomes believers to believe without seeing: compare the saying of Peter, which alludes to this word of our Lord, 1 Peter 1:8. But then, as now, it pleases Christ to crown and confirm that faith by making Himself known in many ways as its Lord and God. Faith would languish if its actual experience were in continual contradiction to it.

The Aorist participles are to be explained by this, that the process is represented as a closed one, and the μακάριοι is its result.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on John 20:29". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/john-20.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

29.Because thou hast seen me, Thomas. Christ blames nothing in Thomas, but that he was so slow to believe, that he needed to be violently drawn to faith by the experience of the senses; which is altogether at variance with the nature of faith. If it be objected, that nothing is more unsuitable than to say that faith is a conviction obtained from touching and seeing, the answer may be easily obtained from what I have already said; for it was not by mere touching or seeing that Thomas was brought to believe that Christ is God, but, being awakened from sleep, he recalled to remembrance the doctrine which formerly he had almost forgotten. Faith cannot flow from a merely experimental knowledge of events, but must draw its origin from the word of God. Christ, therefore, blames Thomas for rendering less honor to the word of God than he ought to have done, and for having regarded faith — which springs from hearing, and ought to be wholly fixed on the word — as bound to the other senses.

Blessed are they who have not seen, and have believed Here Christ commends faith on this ground, that it acquiesces in the bare word, and does not depend on carnal views or human reason (221) He therefore includes, in a short definition, the power and nature of faith; namely, that it does not rest satisfied with the immediate exercise of sight, but penetrates even to heaven, so as to believe those things which are hidden from the human senses. And, indeed, we ought to give to God this honor, that we should view His truth as ( αὐτόπιστος (222)) beyond all doubt without any other proof (223) Faith has, indeed, its own sight but one which does not confine its view to the world, and to earthly objects. For this reason it is called

a demonstration of things invisible or not seen,
(
Hebrews 11:1;)

and Paul contrasts it with sight, (2 Corinthians 5:7,) meaning, that it does not rest satisfied with looking at the condition of present object, and does not cast its eye in all directions to those things which are visible in the world, but depends on the mouth of God, and, relying on His word, rises above the whole world, so as to fix its anchor in heaven. It amounts to this, that faith is not of a right kind, unless it be founded on the word of God, and rise to the invisible kingdom of God, so as to go beyond all human capacity.

If it be objected, that this saying of Christ is inconsistent with another of his sayings, in which he declares that the eyes which behold him are blessed, (Matthew 13:16,) I answer, Christ does not there speak merely of bodily sight, as he does in this passage, but of revelation, which is common to all believers, since he appeared to the world as a Redeemer. He draws a comparison between the Apostles and the holy kings and prophets, (Matthew 13:17,) who had been kept under the dark shadows of the Mosaic Law. He says, that now the condition of believers is much more desirable, because a brighter light shines around them, or rather, because the substance and truth of the figures was made known to them. There were many unbelievers who, at that time, beheld Christ with the eyes of flesh, and yet were not more blessed on that account; but we, who have never beheld Christ with the eyes, enjoy that blessedness of which Christ speaks with commendation. Hence it follows, that he calls those eyes blessed which spiritually behold in him what is heavenly and divine; for we now behold Christ in the Gospel in the same manner as if he visibly stood before us. In this sense Paul says to the Galatians, (Galatians 3:1,) that Christ was crucified before their eyes; and, therefore, if we desire to see in Christ what may render us happy and blessed, let us learn to believe, when we do not see. To these words of Christ corresponds what is stated in another passage, in which the Apostle commends believers, who

love Christ whom they have not seen, and rejoice with unspeakable joy, though they do not behold him.
(
1 Peter 1:8.)

The manner in which the Papists torture these words, to prove their doctrine of transubstantiation, is exceedingly absurd. That we may be blessed, they bid us believe that Christ is present under the appearance of bread. But we know that nothing was farther from Christ’s intention than to subject faith to the inventions of men; and as soon as it passes, in the smallest degree, beyond the limits of the word, it ceases to be faith. If we must believe without reserve all that we do not see, then every monster which men may be pleased to form, every fable which they may contrive, will hold our faith in bondage. That this saying of Christ may apply to the case in hand, we must first prove from the word of God the very point in question. They bring forward the word of God, indeed, in support of their doctrine of transubstantiation; but when the word is properly expounded, it gives no countenance to their foolish notion.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 20:29". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-20.html. 1840-57.