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Saint Matthew
Saint Matthew and the Angel
by Guido Reni
Apostle, Evangelist, Martyr
Died near Hierapolis or Ethiopia
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Churches
Eastern Catholic Churches
Anglican Communion
Lutheran Church
some other Protestant Churches
Canonized pre-congregation
Major shrine Salerno, Italy
Feast 21 September (Western Christianity)
16 November (Eastern Christianity)
Attributes Angel
Patronage Accountants, Salerno, Italy, and others, see[1]

Matthew the Evangelist (מתי/מתתיהו, "Gift of Yahweh", Standard Hebrew and Tiberian Hebrew: Mattay or Mattithyahu; Septuagint Greek: Ματθαίος, Matthaios) was, according to Christian tradition, one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus and one of the four Evangelists.

Matthew, a former tax collector, composed the Gospel of Christ. It was first published in Judea in Hebrew for Hebrew Christians. It was later translated into Greek. Moreover the Hebrew Gospel itself was brought to the Library of Cæsarea by Pamphilus. The Nazarenes, who used it, had a copy of it transcribed for Jerome.[2]



Among the early followers and apostles of Jesus, a Matthew is mentioned in Mt 9:9 and Mt 10:3 as a former tax collector from Capernaum who was called into the circle of the Twelve by Jesus. He is also named among the number of the Twelve, but without identification of his background, in Mk 3:18, Lk 6:15 and Acts 1:13. He is often equated with the figure of Levi, son of Alpheus, also a tax collector, who is mentioned in Mk 2:13 and Lk 5:27.

Early church fathers Epiphanius and Jerome mention Matthew as the author of a first gospel, the now lost Gospel of the Hebrews.[3] However, the attested canonical gospel that came to be ascribed to Matthew's authorship by later tradition was probably originally composed in Greek and by an author who was not a direct companion of the historical Jesus, according to the majority opinion of modern biblical scholarship.[4]

Some use the designation "Matthew the Evangelist" to refer to the anonymous gospel author, and "Matthew the Apostle" to refer to the biblical figure described. Christian tradition holds that they are the same person.[5]

Early life

Matthew was born in First Century Judea. He was a Galilean and the son of Alpheus [6] During the Roman occupation, Matthew collected taxes from the Hebrew people for Herod Antipas. His Tax Office was located in Capharnaum. Jews who became rich in such a fashion, were despised and considered outcasts. However, as a tax collector he would have been literate in Aramaic (but probably not Greek or Latin).[7] [8][5]

It was in this setting, near what is today Almagor, that Jesus called Matthew to be one of the Twelve Disciples. After his call, Matthew invited the Lord home for a feast. On seeing this, the Scribes and the Pharisees criticized Jesus for eating with tax collectors and sinners. This prompted Jesus to answer, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” [9][10][8][11][12]

Matthew's Ministry

Matthew's ministry in the New Testament is likewise complex. When Matthew is mentioned he usually paired him with Thomas. As a disciple, he followed Christ, and was one of the witnesses of the Resurrection and the Ascension. Afterwards, Matthew along with Mary, James and other close followers of the Lord, withdrew to the Upper Chamber, in Jerusalem.[13][14][15][16] At about this time James succeeded his brother Jesus of Nazareth[17][18] as the leader of this small Jewish sect.[19]

They remained in and about Jerusalem and proclaimed that Jesus son of Joseph was the promised Messiah. These early Jewish Christians were thought to have been called Nazerenes.[20][21] It is near certain that Matthew belonged to this sect, as both the New Testament and the early Talmud affirm this to be true.[22]

Matthew, for 15 years, preached the Gospel in Hebrew to the Jewish community in Judea. Later in his ministry he would travel to Gentile nations and spread the Gospel to the Ethiopians, Macedonians, Persians, and Parthians. He is said to have died a natural death either in Ethiopia or in Macedonia. However Roman Catholic Church says he died a martyr on September 21 and of the Orthodox Church also says he died a martyr but on November 10.[23][5]

Matthew's Gospel

St Matthew and the Angel by Rembrandt

Origen said the first[24] Gospel was written by Matthew.[25] This Gospel was composed in Hebrew near Jerusalem for Hebrew Christians and translated into Greek, but the Greek copy was lost. The Hebrew original was kept at the Library of Caesarea. The Nazarene Community transcribed a copy for Jerome which he used in his work.[26] Matthew's Gospel was called the Gospel according to the Hebrews or sometimes the Gospel of the Apostles [27][28] and it was once believed that it was the original to the Greek Matthew found in the Bible, but this has been largely disproved by modern Biblical Scholars.[29]


Matthew is recognized as a Saint in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran and Anglican churches. His feast day is celebrated on September 21 in the West, November 16 in the East (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, 16 November currently falls on 29 November of the modern Gregorian Calendar). He is also commemorated by the Orthodox, together with the other Apostles, on 30 June (13 July), the Synaxis of the Holy Apostles.

Like the other evangelists, Matthew is often depicted in Christian art with one of the four living creatures of Revelation 4:7. The one that accompanies him is in the form of a winged man. The three paintings of Matthew by Caravaggio in the church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome, where he is depicted as called by Christ from his profession as gatherer, are among the landmarks of Western art.

See also


  1. ^ "Saints.SQPN BLOG: Saint Matthew the Apostle". Retrieved 2010-02-22. 
  2. ^ Jerome and the Early Church Fathers
  3. ^ Mills, Watson E., Richard F. Wilson and Roger Aubrey Bullard, Mercer Commentary on the *New Testament, Mercer University Press, 2003, p.942
  4. ^ Brown, Raymond E., Introduction to the New Testament, Anchor Bible, 1997, p.210–211.
  5. ^ a b c "The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Matthew". Retrieved 2010-02-22. 
  6. ^ Mark 2:14
  7. ^ Werner G. Marx, Money Matters in Matthew, Bibliotheca Sacra 136:542 (April-June 1979):148- 57
  8. ^ a b Encyclopædia Britannica. "Encyclopædia Britannica: Saint Matthew the Evangelist". Retrieved 2010-02-22. 
  9. ^ Mark 2:14
  10. ^ Matthew 9:9
  11. ^ Mark 2:15–17
  12. ^ Luke 5:29
  13. ^ Acts 1:10
  14. ^ Anchor Bible Reference Library, Doubleday, 2001 pp. 130-133, 201
  15. ^ Acts 1:14
  16. ^  "St. Matthew". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  17. ^ James was called the brother of the Lord, although there is a dispute over what was meant by it.
  18. ^ Patrick William, James, the Lord's Brother, BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2009 p.1 ISBN 1113203552
  19. ^ "James the Just".,the+brother+of+the+lord%22&source=bl&ots=MRj_si8g__&sig=uur0espW-RiEsfBmaVC4KRCZDuk&hl=en&ei=TBTGSsm3A4HU8QbJzL1G&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1#v=onepage&q=just%20mary%20john%20%22II.James%2Cthe%20brother%20of%20the%20lord%22&f=false. Retrieved 2010-02-22. 
  20. ^ F.L. Cross and E.A. Livingston, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Oxford University Press, 1989, p. 597&722
  21. ^ Matthew 2:23
  22. ^ Bernhard Pick, The Talmud: What It Is and What It Knows of Jesus and His Followers, Kessinger Publishing, 2006 p. 116
  23. ^ "Eusebius, ''Church History'' 3.24.6".,+having%22+%22+first+preached+to+the+Hebrews%22+%22go+to+other+people%22&lr=&num=100&as_brr=3#v=onepage&q=%22Eusebius%20about%20315%22%20%22%20Matthew%2C%20having%22%20%22%20first%20preached%20to%20the%20Hebrews%22%20%22go%20to%20other%20people%22&f=false. Retrieved 2010-02-22. 
  24. ^ "Eusebius, ''Church History'' 6.25.4".,+says+Origen%22++%22written+by+Matthew,+who+once+had+been+a+tax%22&lr=&num=100&as_brr=3#v=onepage&q=%22The%20First%20Gospel%2C%20says%20Origen%22%20%22written%20by%20Matthew%2C%20who%20once%20had%20been%20a%20tax%22&f=false. Retrieved 2010-02-22. 
  25. ^ "Jerome, ''Commentary on Matthew'' 2.12". Retrieved 2010-02-22. 
  26. ^ "Jerome, ''On Illustrious Men'' 3". Retrieved 2010-02-22. 
  27. ^ "John Bovee Dods, ''The Gospel of Jesus'', G. Smith Pub., 1858 pp. iv — vi". Retrieved 2010-02-22. 
  28. ^ "Jerome, ''Against Pelagius'' 3.2". Retrieved 2010-02-22. 
  29. ^ Bart Ehrman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, Oxford University Press, 1999 p. 43

External links

Calling of Matthew
Life of Jesus: Ministry Events
Preceded by
Hometown Rejection of Jesus,
"Physician, heal thyself"
   New Testament   

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ST MATTHEW (MaOOaios or MarOaios, probably a shortened form of the Hebrew equivalent to Theodorus), one of the twelve apostles, and the traditional author of the First Gospel, where he is described as having been a tax-gatherer or customs-officer (TEX .wi]s, x. 3), in the service of the tetrarch Herod. The circumstances of his call to become a follower of Jesus, received as he sat in the " customs house " in one of the towns by the Sea of Galilee - apparently Capernaum (Mark ii. 1, 13), are briefly related in ix. 9. We should gather from the parallel narrative in Mark ii. 14, Luke v. 27, that he was at the time known as " Levi the son of Alphaeus " (compare Simon Cephas, Joseph Barnabas) :: if so, " James the son of Alphaeus " may have been his brother. Possibly " Matthew " (Yahweh's gift) was his Christian surname, since two native names, neither being a patronymic, is contrary to Jewish usage. It must be noted, however, that Matthew and Levi were sometimes distinguished in early times, as by Heracleon (c. 170 A.D.), and more dubiously by Origen (c. Celsum, i. 62), also apparently in the Syriac Didascalia (sec. iii.), V. xiv. 14. It has generally been supposed, on the strength of Luke's account (v. 29), that Matthew gave a feast in Jesus' honour (like Zacchaeus, Luke xix. 6 seq.). But Mark (ii. 15), followed by Matthew (ix. 10), may mean that the meal in question was one in Jesus' own home at Capernaum (cf. v. 1). In the lists of the Apostles given in the Synoptic Gospels and in Acts, Matthew ranks third or fourth in the second group of four - a fair index of his relative importance in the apostolic age. The only other facts related of Matthew on good authority concern him as Evangelist. Eusebius (H.E. iii. 24) says that he, like John, wrote only at the spur of necessity. " For Matthew, after preaching to Hebrews, when about to go also to others, committed to writing in his native tongue the Gospel that bears his name; and so by his writing supplied, for those whom he was leaving, the loss of his presence." The value of this tradition, which may be based on Papias, who certainly reported that " Matthew compiled the Oracles (of the Lord) in Hebrew," can be estimated only in connexion with the study of the Gospel itself (see below). No historical use can be made of the artificial story, in Sanhedrin 43a, that Matthew was condemned to death by a Jewish court (see Laible, Christ in the Talmud, 71 seq.). According to the Gnostic Heracleon, quoted by Clement of Alexandria (Strom. iv. 9), Matthew died a natural death. The tradition as to his ascetic diet (in Clem. Alex. Paedag. ii. 16) may be due to confusion with Matthias (cf. Mart. Matthaei, i.). The earliest legend as to his later labours, one of Syrian origin, places them in the Parthian kingdom, where it represents him as dying a natural death at Hierapolis (= Mabog on the Euphrates). This agrees with his legend as known to Ambrose and Paulinus of Nola, and is the most probable in itself. The legends which make him work with Andrew among the Anthropophagi near the Black Sea, or again in Ethiopia (Rufinus, and Socrates, i. 19), are due to confusion with Matthias, who from the first was associated in his Acts wih Andrew (see M. Bonnet, Acta Apost. apocr., 1898, II. i. 65). Another legend, his Martyrium, makes him labour and suffer in Mysore. He is commemorated as a martyr by the Greek Church on the 16th of November, and by the Roman on the 21st of September, the scene of his martyrdom being placed in Ethiopia. The Latin Breviary also affirms that his body was afterwards translated to Salerno, where it is said to lie in the church built by Robert Guiscard. In Christian art (following Jerome) the Evangelist Matthew is generally symbolized by the " man "in the imagery of Ezek. i. 10, Rev. iv. 7.

For the historical Matthew, see Ency. Bibl. and Zahn, Introd. to New Test., ii. 506 seq., 522 seq. For his legends, as under Mark.

(J. V. B.)

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