Answer to Abgar’s letter, which the apostle Thomas wrote to this prince by command of the saviour.
“Blessed is he who believes in me without having seen me! For it is written of me: ‘Those who see me will not believe in me, and those who do not see me will believe and live.’As to what thou hast written asking me to come to thee, I must accomplish here all that for which I have been sent; and, when I shall have accomplished it all, I shall ascend to Him who sent me; and when I shall go away I will send one of my disciples, who will cure thy diseases, and give life to thee and to all those who are with thee.” Anan, Abgar’s courier, brought him this letter, as well as the portrait of the Saviour, a picture which is still to be found at this day in the city of Edessa.
After the ascension of our Saviour, the Apostle Thomas, one of the twelve, sent one of the seventy-six disciples, Thaddaeus, to the city of Edessa to heal Abgar and to preach the Gospel, according to the word of the Lord. Thaddaeus came to the house of Tobias, a Jewish prince, who is said to have been of the race of the Pacradouni. Tobias, having left Archam, did not abjure Judaism with the rest of his relatives, but followed its laws up to the moment when he believed in Christ. Soon the name of Thaddaeus spreads through the whole town. Abgar, on learning of his arrival, said: “This is indeed he concerning whom Jesus wrote to me; ”and immediately Abgar sent for the apostle. When Thaddaeus entered, a marvellous appearance presented itself to the eyes of Abgar in the countenance of the apostle; the king having risen from his throne, fell on his face to the earth, and prostrated himself before Thaddaeus. This spectacle greatly surprised all the princes who were present, for they were ignorant of the fact of the vision. “Art thou really,” said Abgar to Thaddaeus, “art thou the disciple of the ever-blessed Jesus? Art thou he whom He promised to send to me, and canst thou heal my maladies? ”“Yes,” answered Thaddaeus; “if thou believest in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the desires of thy heart shall be granted.” “I have believed in Jesus,” said Abgar, “I have believed in His Father; therefore I wished to go at the head of my troops to destroy the Jews who have crucified Jesus, had I not been prevented by reason of the power of the Romans.”
Thenceforth Thaddaeus began to preach the Gospel to the king and his town; laying his hands upon Abgar, he cured him; he cured also a man with gout, Abdu, a prince of the town, much honoured in all the king’s house. He also heated all the sick and infirm people in the town, and all believed in Jesus Christ. Abgar was baptized, and all the town with him, and the temples of the false gods were closed, and all the statues of idols that were placed on the altars and columns were hidden by being covered with reeds. Abgar did not compel any one to embrace the faith yet from day to day the number of the believers was multiplied.
The Apostle Thaddaeus baptizes a manufacturer of silk head-dresses, called Attaeus, consecrates him, appoints him to minister at Edessa, and leaves him with the king instead of himself. Thaddaeus, after having received letters patent from Abgar, who wished that all should listen to the Gospel of Christ, went to find Sanadroug, son of Abgar’s sister, whom this prince had appointed over the country and over the army. Abgar was pleased to write to the Emperor Tiberius a letter in these words:—
“I know that nothing is unknown to your Majesty, but, as your friend, I would make you better acquainted with the facts by writing. The Jews who dwell in the cantons of Palestine have crucified Jesus: Jesus without sin, Jesus after so many acts of kindness, so many wonders and miracles wrought for their good, even to the raising of the dead. Be assured that these are not the effects of the power of a simple mortal, but of God. During the time that they were crucifying Him, the sun was darkened, the earth was moved, shaken; Jesus Himself, three days afterwards, rose from the dead and appeared to many. Now, everywhere, His name alone, invoked by His disciples, produces the greatest miracles: what has happened to myself is the most evident proof of it. Your august Majesty knows henceforth what ought to be done in future with respect to the Jewish nation, which has committed this crime; your Majesty knows whether a command should not be published through the whole universe to worship Christ as the true God. Safety and health.”