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John 20:29 (ESV)

29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Jesus appears to be saying that those who believe without seeing are especially blessed. However, the Apostle Paul saw many things, and still was blessed:

2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (ESV)

2 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (ESV)

6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

If those who believe without seeing are especially blessed, then how come the Apostle Paul had so many extraordinary revelations from the Lord and still was blessed?

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  • The extraordinary revelation was tempered with significant chastening (a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of the Adversary) to prevent conceit. And that extraordinary revelation enabled us to receive astounding truth, which otherwise we would not know. I cannot see any 'contradiction' whatsoever. All of this has been gifted by Jesus Christ from above, for the edification of the whole Body. I fail to understand any point to this question.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 9, 2022 at 20:35
  • I am struggling to the see the contradiction here. Paul was given specific revelations as a prophet of God - what is the problem?
    – Dottard
    Mar 9, 2022 at 21:56
  • @Dottard - basically that Paul was shown/revealed (i.e. he saw) extraordinary things and was blessed by God, yet Jesus said that it's better to believe without seeing, because those will be blessed.
    – user38524
    Mar 9, 2022 at 22:30
  • @NigelJ - see above.
    – user38524
    Mar 9, 2022 at 22:30

1 Answer 1

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No contradiction here.

Faith

Faith is sometimes defined as “belief without evidence”; this is a non-Biblical definition. The English theological word faith relies upon the Greek “pistis” (conveying trust) and the Hebrew “aman” (conveying certainty).

Faith is exercised when we say “this person/book/process/source/etc. worked for me last time, so I will trust it enough to use it again." Thus trust implies belief sufficient to justify action.

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Thomas

Thomas had been given reason to believe—he had felt the power of Jesus’ teachings, witnessed miracles, listened to the predictions of Jesus’ death & resurrection, received the promise of the Holy Ghost, and heard the testimony of trusted peers that Jesus had risen. Apparently God expects many people to believe—sufficiently to act—with less evidence than this.

Whether Thomas had more evidence or less evidence than Paul is irrelevant--God knows each person's heart--see 1 Samuel 16:7--and He knows each person's capability--see Matthew 25:14-30--so He knows what to expect based upon what He has given (see also Luke 12:47-48).

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Great Expectations

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:29)

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power (1 Cor. 2:4-5)

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (John 7:17)

All convey a consistent expectation by God. God expects to provide reasons to believe, expects people to test His promises, and expects them to act rationally based upon that evidence. To demand more evidence ad infinitum is contrary to the purposes of God and is irrational.

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Conclusion

Thomas may not have believed as quickly as he should have; however, the Lord mercifully granted him the opportunity to be a special witness of the resurrection in order to enable him to fulfil his apostolic responsibility.

But the Lord also knew that most people will be called upon to believe--sufficiently to act--without that particular revelatory experience.

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  • Good answer. +1.
    – Dottard
    Mar 10, 2022 at 6:07

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