IS JOHN 20:29 APPLICABLE TO US TODAY?
by Shawn Brasseaux
“‘Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.’ In John 20:29, who is Jesus referring to when He used the word ‘they?’ Is He referring *only* to Jews saved *after* Calvary and *before* Paul’s ministry? Or, is this a transdispensational verse including believers like us today in this the Age of Grace?”
Yes, John 20:29 would be a “transdispensational verse.” That is, it could apply to people of any time and in any dispensation.
What Jesus was saying in “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed,” is actually that it is better to believe God’s Word without having tangible, literal facts to validate it. The Word is true, no matter our situations or circumstances. For sake of our readers unfamiliar with the story of “doubting Thomas,” it is better we “get the flow” of the passage before we comment on verse 29.
Let us read John chapter 20, beginning at verse 19: “ Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.  And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.  Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.  And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:  Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.”
Now, we go into the immediate context of the verse in question: “ But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.  The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.  And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.  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.  And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.  Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
Doubting Thomas refused to believe Jesus had resurrected until he could touch Him, until he could see and put his finger into the scars of Christ. Thomas disbelieved God’s Word. People doubting God’s Word without seeing validation, is true of any dispensation. That is why we commented on the fact that verse 29 is “transdispensational.” As Jesus Himself said, Israel was particularly guilty of “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe” (John 4:48). They always wanted to see miraculous events and yet they would often miss what those events meant (Bible doctrine being communicated in those miracles). Even today, the Charismatics go around saying, “We can see God working. Just look at this experience, look at that experience. A ‘healing,’ a ‘vision,’ a ‘tongues’ meeting, an ‘exorcism,’ an ‘angelic appearance,’…” on and on they go. They are just like doubting Thomas, or unbelieving Israel who always wanted “signs” (John 4:48; 1 Corinthians 1:22). They will not believe God the Holy Spirit is working unless they can “feel” Him in their flesh, until they “see” Him at work with their physical eyes, and so on. The “intellectuals” and “scientific” minds of our day echo that complaint. “Oh, if only you Christians could ‘prove’ God exists, then we would believe. If only we could ‘prove’ the Bible miracles to be true, then we would convert.” (No they would not. Look at how many “converted” in Christ’s earthly ministry with all those miracles!)
Saddest of all, like the Jews of New Testament times, the Charismatics, the “intellectuals,” the “scientists” of our day, they also miss why God the Spirit did those miracles in Israel’s midst. It was to demonstrate the powers of His earthly kingdom, (Hebrews 2:3-5), to confirm the Gospel of the Kingdom being preached—that kingdom will have no sickness or disease (Isaiah 33:24; Isaiah 35:4-6) and no evil spirits (Zechariah 13:2; Revelation 20:2). Please see our related studies linked at the end of this article.
“Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” is the same as, “Happy are you if just believe God’s Word, despite, regardless of, what you see with your physical eyes and touch with your physical hands.” Remember, 2 Corinthians 5:7: “For we walk by faith, and not by sight.” (This is how I also know John 20:29 to be a “transdispensational verse.”) We do not see our glorified bodies literally here today. But, we know they are coming because the previous verses (God’s Word) tell us they are coming one day at the Resurrection/Rapture. You can also see 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, especially verse 18, also talking about our glorified bodies: “ For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;  While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith allows us to see with our spiritual eyes what we cannot see with our physical eyes. It is better to go by the written Word that lasts forever (Isaiah 40:6-8; 1 Peter 1:23-25), than by our current (visible) circumstances because our circumstances will (and do) change. We cannot see Heaven with our physical eyes now, but we know we will go there one day and receive glorified bodies there because the written Word says so (2 Corinthians 5:1-8). Unlike the intellectuals, the Charismatics, et cetera, we walk by faith, not sight. Faith, according to Romans 10:17, is believing the verse (2 Corinthians 5:7).