Saint Matthew the Apostle


Saint Matthew was born in Galilee and was the son of Alphaeus. It is very likely that he was literate in both Aramaic and Greek. His Hebrew name would have either been Mattityahu מַתִּתְיָהוּ‎‎ or Mattay מתי‎ meaning "Gift of YHVH" and Ματθαῖος or Mattaios in Greek, although the gospel of Mark records his name first as Levi (it could also simply indicate membership in the tribe of Levi). His profession when we first learn of him in Sacred Scripture was that of a tax collector - a profession seen as traitorous by the Jewish society at the time. During this time, the land was under the occupation of the Roman Empire and not only did the Jewish leadership consider tax collectors traitors, but often as thieves as well - tax collectors were known to collect more than required to enrich themselves.


In Matthew, Mark, and Luke we find the story of his calling. In Matthew 9:9:


As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.”

In Mark 2:14:


As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.

And in Luke 5:27-28:


After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.

This calling came while he was working the collection booth in Capernaum. After leaving the booth to follow Jesus, he hosts a large gathering at his house - somewhat of a modern day going away party. He invites many to the party, including his fellow tax collectors. When the Pharisees ask Jesus why he is dining with tax collectors we hear this :


On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” - Matthew 9:12

As a disciple, his scriptures detail the journey taken with Christ and is the only of the Gospels to record the famous beatitudes. He was a witness to the Ascension of Jesus and counted as one of the disciples who withdrew to the upper room in Acts. His Gospel is heavily targeted to the Jewish community, showing them Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecy by the prophets in the Old Testament. His original account was written in Aramaic to further reach these groups.


Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria both write that Saint Matthew preached the gospel to the Jewish community in Judea before leaving to teach to other peoples. Tradition holds that he traveled to Syria, Parthia and Persia before being martyred in Ethiopia. John Foxe's Book of Martyrs states:


“The scene of his labors was Parthia, and Ethiopia, in which latter country he suffered martyrdom, being slain with a halberd in the city of Nadabah, A.D. 60.”

He is counted as one of the Four Evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). There is scholarly debate on the authorship of the Gospel of Matthew, but among other lines of evidence pointing to his own authorship, the concept of gold, silver and money are mentioned much more frequently. For example, Mark mentions it once, Luke four times, and Matthew 38 times. In Matthew's version of the Lord's prayer there is one small difference:


Forgive us our sins,   for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.” - Luke 11:4

and


And forgive us our debts,   as we also have forgiven our debtors.” - Matthew 6:12
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