John 20:28 “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses like to explain this verse by distinguishing between Lord and God, as Jesus presumably looks first at Jesus, and then lifts up his eyes to God in heaven:
My Lord: Jesus
My God: God the Father (looking up to Heaven)
But the first part of the phrase states that “Thomas . . . said unto him”, which means Jesus. So Thomas called Jesus “God”. Jesus can, indeed, be called God based on His nature, and therefore based on His divinity – which is the nature and divinity of the Father (see esp. John 1:1-3).
Thomas recognizes Jesus’ divinity when he calls Jesus “my God”. John 20:28 thereby closes a bookend with John 1, in which the nature of the Word is qualified as “God” (v1). And the Word is also identified as “Lord” in John 1:23: “He said, ‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.’”
Who is this “Lord” in Isaiah 40:3? Yahweh (Jehovah), God Himself. But did the Father come to earth? No. By the authority of the Father, Jesus (as God’s Son), may claim the prerogatives of His Father. This is how Jesus is Lord. Remember Exodus 23:21? – “for my name is in him”.
Thomas’ exclamation also proves John 8:28 right, in that the crucifixion (the lifting up of Jesus) confirms His identity: “When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then ye shall know that I am he.” Jesus affirms in John 20:29 that Thomas has finally come to believe.
So remember, both “God” and “Lord” are realities that were granted to Jesus:
|“Jehovah is the name given to Christ” (ST 5/3 1899).|
(As previously discussed, the word “Jehovah” is derived from superimposing the vowels from the Hebrew word for Lord – “Adonai” – over the word for God, Yahweh. Jesus carries His Father’s name).
We have to recognize that the Bible uses “theos” [God] in different ways. It is even used for Satan! Clearly, not every use of theos means “God” in the sense of “God the Father”, the one true God. The uses for theos in the New Testament in relation to Jesus are actually few: John 1:1, 18; 20:28; possibly Romans 9:5 and Titus 2:13 (compare KJV to NKJV); Hebrews 1:8, by heirship; possibly 2 Peter 1:1 (compare KJV to NKJV). (Manuscripts and translations make a key difference here).
Ellen White offers no direct explanation of John 20:28, though she refers to John 20:28 in 6T 416. But she certainly opposes a plurality of Gods:
““There is no place for gods in the heaven above. God is the only true God. He fills all heaven. Those who now submit to His will shall see His face; His name will be in the foreheads of all who are pure and holy” Letter 5-1896.14).
Thomas does not make Jesus “the one true God” in John 20:28, confusing the Son with the Father. Like the thief on the cross (Lk 23:42), he simply acknowledges Christ’s divinity. Else we would risk polytheism, which both Old and New Testament strictly oppose.