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Question

Did the Apostle Thomas take the gospel all the way to India?

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Answer


The apostle Thomas was one of the original twelve disciples of Jesus (Matthew 10:3). He is sometimes known as “Doubting Thomas,” because he declared that he would not believe that Jesus was resurrected until he could touch Jesus’ wounds (John 20:25). He is also known as one of the first missionaries in the early church. After the Day of Pentecost, the gospel began to spread from Jerusalem to other parts of the world. According to tradition, Thomas took the gospel of Christ to the subcontinent of India.

Various historical records and traditions indicate that Thomas traveled by sea to India in AD 52. He was later martyred and buried there after witnessing to the Indian people. The tomb of St. Thomas is in Mylapore, India. A poet, St. Ephrem, recorded in his hymns and poetry that Thomas worked miracles in the Indian city of Edessa. A Syrian ecclesiastical calendar has an entry which reads, “3 July, St. Thomas who was pierced with a lance in ‘India.’ His body is in Urhai (Edessa) having been brought there by the merchant Khabin.” A tradition observed by the people of Edessa honors Thomas, calling him “the Apostle of India.” Many other accounts and traditions mention Thomas in connection with India.

While these accounts and documents are compelling, there is no way to be absolutely certain that Thomas took the gospel to India. Based on the biblical record, we can be sure that Thomas did exist as one of Jesus’ disciples, that he was a faithful follower of Christ, and that he proclaimed Christ’s deity (John 11:16; 14:5; 20:24–29). Outside of that, there is no way to be entirely sure. It is possible, likely even, that Thomas took the gospel to India—there is no reason why he could not have done so—but there is no way to be absolutely sure the extra-biblical histories are correct. Since none of the accounts are recorded in the authoritative and inerrant Word of God, some of the stories of Thomas may be embellished; others may be entirely the product of legend.

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Did the Apostle Thomas (St. Thomas) take the gospel all the way to India?
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This page last updated: April 26, 2021