Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Why both words? Doesn't God imply "Lord" as well? I'm assuming this has something to do with the exact original text?
For reference, see: http://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/5096/862
The Greek word κύριος literally means "master." Confusion occurs because it appears to be used in the Greek Septuagint to translate the Tetragrammaton, the Hebrew word יַהְוֶה. But, in fact, it is not being used to translate יַהְוֶה, but instead, אֲדֹנָי. It was used to translate אֲדֹנָי because אֲדֹנָי is what the Jews actually read when they saw the word יַהְוֶה in their scriptures.
The exact meaning of אֲדֹנָי is debated. It may mean "my master," but the possessive pronoun beng ignored over time, the word later was understood as simply "master." For an example, consider the French word monsieur, understood as "master" (or "sir," "lord"), which is formed from mon ("my") and sieur ("master").
In John 20:28, when Thomas calls Jesus «ὁ κύριός μου», he is simply saying what would be equivalent to the English phrase "my master." The reason is simple: if indeed κύριος was being used as the equivalent of the Tetragrammaton יַהְוֶה, it would not be joined with a possessive pronoun, e.g. "my Yahveh." It's unacceptable grammar in Hebrew and Greek (and many other languages, if not all) to adjoin a proper name with a possessive pronoun.
There exist a few possibilities for the translation here. Should John 20:28b be understood as predicate nominatives ("You are my Lord and my God") or as vocatives ("My Lord and my God!")?
I understand it to be the first because the context is confessional. Thomas has proclaimed he will not believe until he sees and feels. Now he sees and confesses (The sentence may have been an exclamation, but it was still confessional).
This is confirmed by Jesus treating the statement as confessional in 20:29.
As mentioned in the other answers, this verse harkens back to 1:1 and 1:14. We also note in the text how John uses many titles for Jesus in just the opening: the Lamb of God (1:29, 36); the Son of God (1:34, 49); Rabbi (1:38); Messiah (1:41); the King of Israel (1:49); the Son of Man (1:51).
Both "lord" and "master" are used in 20:28 to bring us full circle. In 1:1, John showed us what Jesus is. In 20:28, the last of the Twelve knows by experience who Jesus is. Thomas' new understanding also fulfills a prophecy from Jesus himself (John 8:28, which also reminds the reader of 3:14 and 12:32):
John shows us through Thomas' words that Jesus being lifted up for crucifixion fulfilled these prophecies, and through his death, resurrection, and exaltation he has revealed his true identity as both Lord and God.
Since shortly after this
John 20:28 Thomas replied to him, "My Lord and my God!"
the author (John) writes
20:31 But these are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.
Therefore one need not read more and not less into the statement than what it meant for the disciple in his time and language: It is the experience of the presence of God that he experienced in seeing his resurrected Master.
Even the encounter with angels had lead humans (Abraham, Moses) to call on God in the person of the angel. How much more was he in the right to call on God in the person of the Son of God, who had been dead and was living. (Why should the disciple not know the Psalms and the Torah at least as well as we do?)
The Greek phrase ο κυριος μου loosely rendered reads "the master of me," and I can agree with H3br3wHamm3r81 that:
Nevertheless, and ever since the days of Monarchianism and Patripassianism (heresies of the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE, respectively), the words ο θεος μου have apparently created problems for both early and modern interpreters. Prof. Ehrman (The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, 266, 1993, citing Raymond Brown's The Gospel According to John 29, 1966) wrote that one Theodore of Mopsuestia (d. 428 CE) later "argued that Thomas [seemingly ecstatically] uttered those words in praise of God the Father" (i.e., יהוה, the God of first century CE converts from Judaism). And that makes sense to me if, as Strong's G611 and H6030 indicate, Thomas began to give praise to YHVH and was interrupted by Jesus (20:29) commending his (Thomas') belief, misconstrued though it might have been.
Refer back to the Greek of John 1:1 and note that θεος is anarthrous. But in John 20:28, Jesus is specifically called ο θεος (the supreme Divinity, or God; cp. Strong's G2316, et al). So what is the average Bible-reading Christian to think except that Jesus IS "God" himself? And when you combine John 20:28 with 1 John 5:7-8, it's little wonder that Trinitarians believe that Jesus is the God of the OT.
I don't have access to a copy of Codex Ephraemi (C/04, ca. 400-499 CE) but, if I recall correctly, it and other Gospel mss. omit the article, indicating to some interpreters that Jesus of Nazareth, while he might have been θεος (divine-like or godly), is not ο θεος; i.e., THE God Orthodox Christians claim him to be. I also do not have anything by Metzger which addresses John 20:28. Does anyone else know what Metzger said about it?
The writer of John is trying to show, according to his religious training and dogma of the proto-Orthodox Church at Rome's rewrite men, that Jesus of Nazareth was ò λεγόμενος λόγος (cp. Matt. 1:16; 27:17, 22; John 4:25). Why? Because the Greek phrase και θεος ην ο λογος is said to be a carefully worded refutation of the heresy of Sabellianism by the writer of GoJ and the churchmen who signed-off on his work (cp. Robinson's Word Pictures in the NT, et al). And:
But my point was that the writer of the John Gospel (ca. 90-120 CE) misidentified Jesus as being Thomas' ο θεος μου, thereby misconstruing Jesus to be the One God of Israel and Judaism (YHVH), and also of Orthodox Judeo-Christians (YaHVeH, or JeHoVaH).
And, for argument's sake, perhaps your hypothetical John is trying to explain to your hypothetical alien that "èστίν ὀ ἄνθρωπος" is his hypothetical employer, supervisor, or some other person in a position of sanctioned power over others. You know, as in the colloquial expression "he's the man!"??? (Apologies for any redundancy to my other comment)
We are not privy to any explanation of why Thomas was motivated to say both words but it is apparent that the literary/religious reason that "John" included them is to show that Jesus was 'o κύριος but not 'o θεος. He does this is a rather sophisticated manner.
I don't think anyone here will take issue with the fact that Jesus self-identified as "lord" but in case anyone does I'll cite this:
This is construed by some as tantamount to claiming to be God because YHVH self-identified as "lord":
However, it must be noted that God has temporarily retired from being "lord" and temporarily made Jesus to be the lord of Jews and gentiles:
Of course, God has not actually ceded his ultimate sovereignty over all nor his future reclaiming of total and complete lordship while Jesus is returned to the sea of humanity:
So what I'm pointing out is that Thomas' reference to Jesus as "my lord" is completely in line with the whole of scripture, is attributed in the scriptures to a temporary promotion from God and is never challenged by other scripture. Per the scriptures, Jesus is lord.
However, while Jesus is consistently called "the son of God" and even "a god" (John 1:1, Heb 1:8) Thomas has crossed a line by referring to him as "my God".
Since Thomas' exclamation is not followed by rebuke or challenge by Jesus many find in this something tantamount to Jesus claiming to be God. HOWEVER if we consider the whole passage we see that Jesus had arranged in advance for one of the women to bear to the disciples a corrective of Thomas' emotional cry:
Her informed confession is, correctly, that Jesus is "the lord":
This incident, in addition to demonstrating the correct title that Jesus bore suggests strongly that when this was written there had already been many "antichrists" (false representations of Jesus' identity) were already operating in the world. "John" says so much:
So I propose that by John including Thomas' suggestion that Jesus was not only the lord but also God himself AND including Jesus' pointing to the father as his God John reproves those who have departed from the faith: