What does John 20:27 mean?
ESV: Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe."
NIV: Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
NASB: Then He *said to Thomas, 'Place your finger here, and see My hands; and take your hand and put it into My side; and do not continue in disbelief, but be a believer.'
CSB: Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and look at my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Don’t be faithless, but believe."
NLT: Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!'
KJV: Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
NKJV: Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
Verse Commentary:
Many skeptics of religion, especially of Christianity, demand proof far beyond what's reasonable. Scripture approves of cautious skepticism (Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1; 2 Corinthians 13:5). It does not indulge those who are simply trying to excuse their choice not to believe. A common result of this is known as "moving the goal posts;" this expression means demanding a level of certainty, only to re-define or re-locate those requirements after the original demand is met. In this way, no matter what happens, the person can continue to claim there is not enough evidence.

In Thomas' case, Jesus had predicted His own resurrection (John 2:19–22). Thomas had seen Him bring people out of death (John 11:43–44). Eyewitnesses had seen Jesus, in person, alive after His crucifixion (John 20:17–18; Luke 24:10–11; 23–24). Christ had even appeared in a locked room, speaking to Thomas' fellow disciples (John 20:19–24). Rather than accept the obvious, Thomas made what he likely thought was an absurd, impossible demand: to put his own fingers into Jesus' crucifixion wounds before believing in the resurrection (John 20:25).

When Jesus reappears, again in a locked room, He challenges Thomas to make good on his claim. Jesus is now there, in the flesh, offering Thomas the opportunity to do what he said was needed to make him believe. Jesus' comment here indicates that Thomas' choice is exactly that: a decision not to accept what he ought to believe. This is a common theme among those who reject faith in Christ (John 5:39–40). Thomas has not been sincere, he has been obstinate. The question he is now faced with is whether he will continue to "move the goal posts," or admit the truth.

Scripture does not say, explicitly, whether Thomas literally did this or not. The flow of John's account makes it seem he did not. Rather, he appears to immediately respond to Jesus' mere presence. Whether Thomas touched Jesus' wounds, or not, his response is—finally—the correct one. He will accept the truth and acknowledge Jesus for who He is (John 20:28).
Verse Context:
John 20:24–29 is the source of an unfortunate nickname: "Doubting Thomas." Thomas was not present when Jesus came through a locked door and proved to the other disciples that He was alive. He makes an exaggerated demand for proof before he will believe, insisting on more evidence than is reasonable. Once again, Jesus passes through a physical barrier to appear. Thomas is reminded of his earlier stubbornness, but humbly confesses that Jesus is God.
Chapter Summary:
Peter and John get a report from Mary Magdalene that Jesus' body is gone. They arrive to find an open grave, and empty grave clothes, along with a folded face cloth. When the two men leave, Mary remains and suddenly encounters a resurrected Jesus. Though she tells the others, they resist believing until they see Jesus in person. Thomas is especially stubborn, and Jesus remarks on how blessed they are to have been given so much proof. John points out that his writing is meant to prove that Jesus is the Messiah, arranged to encourage those who read to come to faith.
Chapter Context:
Most of Jesus' disciples scattered and hid when He was arrested (Matthew 26:56). Only John and some women were present to see His death and burial (John 19:26–30, 41–42; Matthew 27:60–61). When Jesus' tomb is seen empty, there is further confusion. Jesus appears to His followers, proving that He is alive, and remarking that they are blessed to have so much proof. John will complete his account in the next chapter with another encounter and more reminders about the nature of his writing.
Book Summary:
The disciple John wrote the gospel of John decades after the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls "signs"— to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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