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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [1]

called also Levi, was the son of Alpheus, but probably not of that Alpheus who was the father of the Apostle James the less. He was a native of Galilee; but it is not known in what city of that country he was born, or to what tribe of the people of Israel he belonged. Though a Jew, he was a publican or tax-gatherer under the Romans; and his office seems to have consisted in collecting the customs due upon commodities which were carried, and from persons who passed, over the lake of Gennesareth. Our Saviour commanded him, as he was sitting at the place where he received these customs, to follow him. He immediately obeyed; and from that time he became a constant attendant upon our Saviour, and was appointed one of the twelve Apostles. St. Matthew, soon after his call, made an entertainment at his house, at which were present Christ and some of his disciples, and also several publicans. After the ascension of our Saviour, he continued, with the other Apostles, to preach the Gospel for some time in Judea; but as there is no farther account of him in any writer of the first four centuries, we must consider it as uncertain into what country he afterward went, and likewise in what manner and at what time he died.

In the few writings which remain of the apostolical fathers, Barnabas, Clement of Rome, Hermas, Ignatius, and Polycarp, there are manifest allusions to several passages in St. Matthew's Gospel; but the Gospel itself is not mentioned in any one of them. Papias, the companion of Polycarp, is the earliest author on record who has expressly named St. Matthew as the writer of a Gospel; and we are indebted to Eusebius for transmitting to us this valuable testimony. The work itself of Papias is lost; but the quotation in Eusebius is such as to convince us that in the time of Papias no doubt was entertained of the genuineness of St. Matthew's Gospel. This Gospel is repeatedly quoted by Justin Martyr, but without mentioning the name of St. Matthew. It is both frequently quoted, and St. Matthew mentioned as its author, by Irenaeus, Origen, Athanasius, Cyril, Epiphanius, Jerom, Chrysostom, and a long train of subsequent writers. It was, indeed, universally received by the Christian church; and we do not find that its genuineness was controverted by any early profane writer. We may therefore conclude, upon the concurrent testimony of antiquity, that this Gospel is rightly ascribed to St. Matthew. It is generally agreed, upon the most satisfactory evidence, that St. Matthew's Gospel was the first which was written; but though this is asserted by many ancient authors, none of them, except Irenaeus and Eusebius, have said any thing concerning the exact time at which it was written. The only passage in which the former of these fathers mentions this subject, is so obscure, that no positive conclusion can be drawn from it; Dr. Lardner, and Dr. Townson, understand it in very different senses; and Eusebius, who lived a hundred and fifty years after Irenaeus, barely says, that Matthew wrote his Gospel just before he left Judea to preach the religion of Christ in other countries; but when that was, neither he nor any other ancient author informs us with certainty. The impossibility of settling this point upon ancient authority has given rise to a variety of opinions among moderns. Of the several dates assigned to this Gospel, which deserve any attention, the earliest is A.D. 38, and the latest, A.D. 64.

It appears very improbable that the Christians should be left any considerable number of years without a written history of our Saviour's ministry. It is certain that the Apostles, immediately after the descent of the Holy Ghost, which took place only ten days after the ascension of our Saviour into heaven, preached the Gospel to the Jews with great success; and surely it is reasonable to suppose, that an authentic account of our Saviour's doctrines and miracles would very soon be committed to writing, for the confirmation of those who believed in his divine mission, and for the conversion of others; and, more particularly, to enable the Jews to compare the circumstances of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus with their ancient prophecies relative to the Messiah; and we may conceive that the Apostles would be desirous of losing no time in writing an account of the miracles which Jesus performed, and of the discourses which he delivered, because the sooner such an account was published, the easier it would be to inquire into its truth and accuracy; and, consequently, when these points were satisfactorily ascertained, the greater would be its weight and authority. We must own that these arguments are so strong in favour of an early publication of some history of our Saviour's ministry, that we cannot but accede to the opinion of Jones, Wetstein, and Dr. Owen, that St. Matthew's Gospel was written A.D. 38. There has also of late been great difference of opinion concerning the language in which this Gospel was originally written. Among the ancient fathers, Papias, as quoted by Eusebius, Irenaeus, Origen, Cyril, Epiphanius, Chrysostom, and Jerom, positively assert that it was written by St. Matthew in Hebrew, that is, in the language then spoken in Palestine; and indeed Dr. Campbell says, that this point was not controverted by any author for fourteen hundred years. Erasmus was one of the first who contended that the present Greek is the original; and he has been followed by Le Clerc, Wetstein, Basnage, Whitby, Jortin, Hug, and many other learned men. On the other hand, Grotius, Du Pin, Simon, Walton, Cave, Hammond, Mill, Michaelis, Owen, and Campbell have supported the opinion of the ancients. In a question of this sort, which is a question of fact, the concurrent voice of antiquity is decisive. Though the fathers are unanimous in declaring that St. Matthew wrote his Gospel in Hebrew, yet they have not informed us by whom it was translated into Greek. No writer of the first three centuries makes any mention whatever of the translator; nor does Eusebius; and Jerom tells us, that in his time it was not known who was the translator. It is, however, universally allowed, that the Greek translation was made very early, and that it was more used than the original. This last circumstance is easily accounted for. After the destruction of Jerusalem, the language of the Jews, and every thing which belonged to them, fell into great contempt; and the early fathers, writing in Greek, would naturally quote and refer to the Greek copy of St. Matthew's Gospel, in the same manner as they constantly used the Septuagint version of the Old Testament. There being no longer any country in which the language of St. Matthew's original Gospel was commonly spoken, that original would soon be forgotten; and the translation into Greek, the language then generally understood, would be substituted in its room. This early and exclusive use of the Greek translation is a strong proof of its correctness, and leaves us but little reason to lament the loss of the original.

"As the sacred writers," says Dr. Campbell, "especially the evangelists, have many qualities in common, so there is something in every one of them, which, if attended to, will be found to distinguish him from the rest. That which principally distinguishes St. Matthew, is the distinctness and particularity with which he has related many of our Lord's discourses and moral instructions. Of these, his sermon on the mount, his charge to the Apostles, his illustrations of the nature of his kingdom, and his prophecy on Mount Olivet, are examples. He has also wonderfully united simplicity and energy in relating the replies of his Master to the cavils of his adversaries. Being early called to the apostleship, he was an eye-witness and an ear- witness of most of the things which he relates; and though I do not think it was the scope of any of these historians to adjust their narratives to the precise order of time wherein the events happened, there are some circumstances which incline me to think, that St. Matthew has approached at least as near that order as any of them." And this, we may observe, would naturally be the distinguishing characteristic of a narrative, written very soon after the events had taken place. The most remarkable things recorded in St. Matthew's Gospel, and not found in any other, are the following: the visit of the eastern magi; our Saviour's flight into Egypt; the slaughter of the infants at Bethlehem; the parable of the ten virgins; the dream of Pilate's wife; the resurrection of many saints at our Saviour's crucifixion; and the bribing of the Roman guard appointed to watch at the holy sepulchre by the chief priests and elders.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [2]

(Ματθαῖος Textus Receptus, Μαθθαῖος Lach., Tisch., WH[Note: H Westcott-Hort’s Greek Testament.])

The person bearing this name in the NT is represented as one of the twelve apostles who before his call by Christ had been engaged as a publican or custom-house officer in Capernaum. He is also called Levi ( Mark 2:14,  Luke 5:29), and many have supposed that he received the name Matthew after his call by Jesus, just as Simon became Peter. On the other hand, it seems to have been common in Galilee for a man to possess two names-a Greek and an Aramaic (cf. Edersheim, LT [Note: T Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Edersheim).]4, 1887, i. 514). In the various lists of the apostles, Matthew’s name occurs seventh in  Mark 3:18 and  Luke 6:15 and eighth in  Matthew 10:3 and  Acts 1:13. All the Synoptists narrate the story of the call of Matthew from his tax-gatherer’s booth and the subsequent feast in his house which aroused the wrath of the Pharisees and led Jesus to defend Himself by the declaration: ‘They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous but sinners’ ( Matthew 9:9-13,  Mark 2:14-17,  Luke 5:27-32). As a publican Matthew was employed collecting the toll at Capernaum on the highway between Damascus and the Mediterranean, and was no doubt in the service of Herod the Tetrarch.

Matthew is called the ‘son of Alphaeus’ ( Mark 2:14), and the question has arisen whether he is to be regarded as the brother of James the son of Alphaeus ( Matthew 10:3,  Mark 3:18,  Luke 6:15,  Acts 1:13). In the four lists of apostles, while Matthew and James occur in the same group of four, the two are not placed alongside one another as is usual with the other pairs of brothers in the apostolic band. Again, if we identify Clopas of  John 19:25 with Alphaeus of the Synoptists (Aram. Chalphai  ; cf.  1 Maccabees 11:30), and consequently assume that James the Less of  Mark 15:40 is the son of Alphaeus, it is extremely unlikely that Matthew’s name would be omitted in  Mark 15:40 if he were one of the sons of Mary and the brother of James, Joses, and Salome. On the whole, it is almost certain that the two apostles were not related.

In the story of the Apostolic Church as we find it in the NT the name of Matthew occurs only once, viz. in the list of apostles in  Acts 1:13. Probably he became a preacher to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and for the most part confined his labours to the land of Palestine. His name became associated with the First Gospel either because he was supposed to be the author or because he was the author of one of the sources on which the work was based. Eusebius makes three interesting statements regarding Matthew. He says ( Historia Ecclesiastica (Eusebius, etc.) iii. 24): ‘Matthew and John are the only two apostles who have left us recorded comments, and even they, tradition says, undertook it from necessity. Matthew, having first proclaimed the gospel in Hebrew, when on the point of going also to other nations, committed it to writing in his native tongue, and thus supplied the want of his presence to them by his writings.’ Again we find in Historia Ecclesiastica (Eusebius, etc.) iii. 39 the famous statement of Papias quoted by Eusebius, ‘Matthew composed his logia in the Hebrew tongue, and everyone translated as he was able.’ We also find in Eusebius’ review of the canon of Scripture the statement: ‘The first (Gospel) is written according to Matthew, the same that was once a publican but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, who, having published it for the Jewish converts, wrote it in the Hebrew’ ( Historia Ecclesiastica (Eusebius, etc.) vi. 25). These varied quotations associate Matthew with a Hebrew Gospel or collection of the Sayings of Jesus which in some way or other is connected with or incorporated in our First Gospel. Probably Matthew the ex-publican and apostle did form such a collection of the Sayings of our Lord which were wrought into a connected narrative of the Life of Christ by the First Evangelist, a Palestinian Jew of the 1st century. But for full discussion see article‘Matthew, Gospel of,’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) and Dict. of Christ and the Gospels . Unfortunately, Eusebius does not tell us what the ‘other nations’ were to whom Matthew proclaimed the gospel, and we have no certain knowledge of his subsequent missionary labours.

W. F. Boyd.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [3]

When the Gospel writers Mark and Luke give the list of the twelve apostles, they name Matthew but do not record his occupation ( Mark 3:18;  Luke 6:15). When they mention the tax collector who responded to Jesus’ call and invited his fellow tax collectors to a feast to meet Jesus, they call him not Matthew, but Levi, which was his other name ( Mark 2:14-17;  Luke 5:27-32). It seems as if, to be kind to Matthew, they deliberately avoid mentioning that he was once a tax collector. Jews in general despised those of their people who collected taxes on behalf of Rome. They regarded them as dishonest and unpatriotic people who had lost their self-respect (see Tax Collector ).

Matthew’s response to the call of Jesus changed his attitude to life completely. This is seen in the Gospel traditionally associated with Matthew. The book itself does not state whether Matthew was the person who actually wrote it, but there is good evidence to suggest that, no matter who wrote it, it came from material that Matthew had prepared. And far from hiding the fact that he was once a tax collector, Matthew states it clearly. He uses the name Matthew, not Levi, in his account of Jesus’ call ( Matthew 9:9-13), and in his list of the twelve apostles he states his previous occupation ( Matthew 10:3). The book reflects a tax collector’s gratitude to Jesus for calling such a person to be an apostle. (See also Matthew, Gospel Of )

At the time he first met Jesus, Matthew lived and worked in Capernaum on the shore of the Sea of Galilee ( Mark 2:1;  Mark 2:13-14). He had a good income ( Matthew 9:9) and owned a house large enough to accommodate a good number of people ( Luke 5:29). But he left all this to join Jesus in the urgent and risky business of spreading the good news of the kingdom of God ( Matthew 10:5-23). Though the Bible gives no details of Matthew’s later activities, he was involved in the establishment of the church after Jesus’ resurrection ( Acts 1:13).

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [4]

("the gift of Jehovah"), contracted from Mattathias. The evangelist and apostle. Son of Alphaeus (not the father of James the Less, for Matthew and James are never coupled as brothers). Mark ( Mark 2:14, compare  Mark 3:18) and Luke ( Luke 5:27, compare with  Luke 6:15) veil his former less honorable occupation of a publican under his original name Levi; but Matthew himself gives it, and humbly puts himself after Thomas, an undesigned mark of genuineness; whereas Mark ( Mark 3:18) and Luke ( Luke 6:15) put Matthew before Thomas in the list of apostles. (See Publican .) As subordinate to the head farmers of the Roman revenues he collected dues at Capernaum on the sea of Galilee, the route by which traffic passed between Damascus and the Phoenician seaports. But Matthew is not ashamed to own his identity with "the publican" in order to magnify Christ's grace ( Matthew 9:9), and in his catalogue of the apostles ( Matthew 10:3).

Christ called him at "the receipt of custom," and he immediately obeyed the call. Desiring to draw others of his occupation with him to the Savior he made in His honor a great feast ( Matthew 9:9-13;  Luke 5:29;  Mark 2:14). "Many publicans and sinners" thus had the opportunity of hearing the word; and the murmuring of the Pharisee, and the reply of our Lord "they that be whole need not a physician but they that are sick ... I am not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance," imply that his effort was crowned with success. With the undesigned propriety which marks genuineness Matthew talks of Jesus' sitting down in "the house" without telling whose house it was, whereas Mark mentions it as Levi's. He was among those who met in the upper room at Jerusalem after our Lord's ascension ( Acts 1:13). Eustathius (H. E. iii. 24) says that after our Lord's ascension Matthew preached in Judaea and then in foreign nations (Ethiopia, according to Socrates Scholasticus, H. E. i. 19).

Holman Bible Dictionary [5]

 Matthew 9:9 Matthew 10:3DisciplesTax Collector

Matthew is the same person as Levi, a tax collector ( Mark 2:14;  Luke 5:27 ), and thus the son of Alphaeus. James the son of Alphaeus is also listed among the Apostles ( Mark 3:18;  Matthew 10:3;  Luke 6:15;  Acts 1:13 ). This indicates that both Matthew and his (half) brother were in close association with Jesus. Mary, the mother of James, keeps the vigil at the foot of the cross with Mary, the mother of Jesus ( Matthew 27:55-56;  Mark 15:40 ). If the James mentioned here is the same as the son of Alphaeus, then we have a larger family closely associated with the family of Jesus.

Later legendary accounts tell of Matthew's travel to Ethiopia where he became associated with Candace, identified with the eunuch of  Acts 8:27 . The legends tell us of Matthew's martydom in that country.

Why did Jesus call Matthew? Because Matthew had the gifts to be trained as a disciple to share with others, could keep meticulous records, and was a potential recorder/author of the Gospel. From earliest times Christians affirmed that Matthew wrote the Gospel that bears his name. See The Gospel Of Matthew .

Oscar Brooks

People's Dictionary of the Bible [6]

Matthew ( Măth'Thu ). Derived from the same word as Matthias,  Acts 1:23;  Acts 1:26 ( Gift Of God), apostle, and author of the first gospel. His original name was Levi,  Mark 2:14;  Luke 5:27;  Luke 5:29, which, like that of Simon and of Saul, was changed on his being called to the apostleship. He first appears in the gospels as a publican or tax-gatherer near the Sea of Galilee, and the last mention of him is in the list of those who met in the upper room at Jerusalem after the ascension of our Lord.  Acts 1:13. The tradition of his martyrdom in Ethiopia is not very trustworthy.

The Gospel according to Matthew was probably written in Palestine, and for Jewish Christians. It was probably first composed in Hebrew— I.E., Syro-Chaldaic, or Western Aramaic, the dialect spoken in Palestine by the Jewish Christians, and then later in Greek, as we now possess it. The date of its composition was clearly before the destruction of Jerusalem,  Matthew 24:1-51, and yet some time after the crucifixion of Christ.  Matthew 27:7-8;  Matthew 28:15. Some of the ancients give the eighth year after the ascension as the date, others the fifteenth. We would place it between 60 and 66 a.d.—a period during which both Mark and Luke probably wrote their gospels.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [7]

Mat'thew. (Gift Of Jehovah). (A contraction, as is also Matthias, of Mattathias. His original name was Levi, and his name, Matthew, was probably adopted as his new apostolic name as a Jew. His father's name was Alphaeus. His home was at Capernaum. His business was the collection of dues and customs from persons and goods crossing the Sea of Galilee, or passing along the great Damascus road which ran along the shore between Bethsaida, Julius and Capernaum.

Christ called him from this work to he his disciple. He appears to have been a man of wealth, for he made a great feast in his own house, perhaps in order to introduce his former companions and friends to Jesus . His business would tend to give him a knowledge of human nature, and accurate business habits, and of how to make a way to the hearts of many publicans and sinners not otherwise easily reached.

He is mentioned by name, after the resurrection of Christ , only in  Acts 1:15, but he must have lived many years as an apostle, since he was the author of the Gospel of Matthew which was written at least twenty years later. There is reason to believe that he remained for fifteen years at Jerusalem, after which he went as missionary to the Persians, Parthians and Medes. There is a legend that he died a martyr in Ethiopia. - Editor).

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [8]

An apostle and evangelist, was son of Alpheus, a Galilean by birth, a Jew by religion, and a publican by profession,  Matthew 9:9   10:3   Luke 6:15 . The other evangelists call him only  Mark 2:14   Luke 5:27; but he always calls himself Matthew, which was probably his name as a publican, or officer for gathering taxes. He does not dissemble his former profession; thus exalting the grace of Christ which raised him to the apostleship. His ordinary abode was at Capernaum, and his office probably on the main road, near the Sea of Tiberias; here, in the midst of his business, he was called by Jesus to follow him,  Matthew 9:9   Mark 2:14 . It is probable that he had a previous knowledge of the miracles and doctrine of Christ.

For the Gospel Of Matthew see Gospel .

Morrish Bible Dictionary [9]

The son of Alphaeus and one of the twelve apostles. He was a tax-collector for the Romans, called 'publican' in the A.V. He left his office immediately he was called by the Lord and entertained Him at a feast. No other incidents are recorded of him apart from the other apostles. He is universally believed to have written the gospel bearing his name.  Matthew 9:9;  Matthew 10:3;  Mark 3:18;  Luke 6:15;  Acts 1:13 . He is called LEVI in  Mark 2:14;  Luke 5:27,29 .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [10]

 Matthew 9:9 Mark 2:14 Luke 5:27 Luke 5:29 Acts 1:13

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [11]

The apostle and evangelist, or, as he himself in great humility writes, Matthew the publican, than,  Matthew 10:3. His history we have in the gospel.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [12]

( Ματθαῖος v. r. Μαθθαῖος ), one of the apostles and evangelists. In the following account of him and his Gospel we have endeavored to collect and arrange all that is definitely known on the subject.

I. His Name. According to Gesenius, the names Matthaeus and Matthias are both contractions of Maittathias (מִתַּתְיָה , "gift of Jehovah;" Θεόδωρος , Θεόδοτος ), a common Jewish name after the exile. (See Mattithiah).

Matthew had also the name of Levi ( Mark 2:14;  Luke 5:27). In the catalogues  Mark 3:18;  Luke 6:15 -he is coupled with Thomas, which has given rise to the not altogether unfounded conjecture that Matthew was the twin brother of Thomas ( תְּאוֹם a Twin), whose real name, according to Eusebius, ''H. E'' 1:13, was Judas, and that they were both "brethren of our Lord" (Donaldson, Jashar, p. 10; comp.  Matthew 13:55;  Mark 6:3). This last supposition would account for Matthew's immediate obedience to the call of Christ, but is hardly consistent with the indefiniteness of the words with which he is introduced- Ἄνθρωπον Ματθ . Λεγόμ . ( Matthew 9:9); Τελώνην Ὀνόματι Λευϊ v Ν (Luke v. 27) or the unbelief of our Lord's brothers ( John 7:5). Heracleon, as quoted by Clem. Alex (Strom. 4:11), mentions Levi as well as Matthew among the early teachers who did not suffer martyrdom. Origen also (Contr. Cels. 1, sec. 62 [48]) speaks of Λεβὴς Τελώνης Ἀκολουθήσας Τῷ Ι᾿Ησὂυ , together with "Matthew the publican;" but the names Λεβής and Δευϊ v Σ are by no means identical, and there is a hesitation about his language which shows that even then the tradition was hardly trustworthy. The attempt of Theod. Hase (Bibl. Brem. v. 475) to identify Levi with the apostle Lebbseus is an example of misapplied ingenuity which deserves little attention (comp. Wolf. Cur. ad Marc. 2:14).

The distinction between Levi and Matthew has, however, been maintained by Grotius (though he acknowledges that the voice of antiquity is against him, "et sane congruunt circumstantiae"), Michaelis, De Wette, Sieffert, Ewald, etc. But it is in the highest degree improbable that two publicans should have been called by Christ in the same words, at the same place, and with the same attendant circumstances and consequences; and that, while one became an apostle, the other dropped entirely out of memory. Still less can we acquiesce in the hypothesis of Sieffert (Urspir. d. erst. Kanon. Ev. p. 59) and Ewald (Drei Erst. Ev. p. 344: Christus, p. 289, 321) that the name "Matthew" is due to the Greek editor of Matthew's Gospel, who substituted it by an error in the narrative of the call of Levi. On the other hand, their identity was assumed by Eusebius and Jerome, and most ancient writers, and has been accepted by the soundest commentators (Tischendorf, Meyer, Neander, Lardner, Ellicott, etc.). The double name only supplies a difficulty to those who are resolved to find such everywhere in the Gospel narrative. It is analogous to what we find in the case of Simon Peter, John Mark, Paul, Jude, etc., which may all admit of the same explanation, and be regarded as indicating a crisis in the spiritual life of the individual, and his passing into new external relations. He was no longer לֵוַי but מִתִּי , not Levi but Theodore one who might well deem both himself and all his future life a veritable "gift of God" (Ellicott, Hist. Lect. p. 172; compare Meyer, Comment. 1:2; Winer, ''R. W. B'' s.v. Matthiius, Name). See Michaelis. Einleit. 2:934; Kraft, Observ. Sacr. v. 3; Bid, in the Bibl. Brenl. 6:1038; Heumann, Erklar. D.'' NT 1:538; Frisch, Diss. De Levi C. Matth. Non Confundendo (Leips. 1746); Thiers, Krit. Comment. 1:90; Sieffert, Urspir. D. Kanon. Evang. p. 54. (See Name).

II. Scripture Statements Respecting Him. His father's name was Alphaeus ( Mark 2:14), probably different from the father of James the son of Mary, the wife of Cleophas, who was a "sistef" of the mother of Jesus ( John 19:25). (See Alphaeus). His call to be an apostle (A.D. 27) is related by all three evangelists in the same words, except that  Matthew 9:9 gives the usual name, and  Mark 2:14 and  Luke 5:27 that of Levi. Matthew's special occupation was probably the collection of dues and customs from persons and goods crossing the Lake of Gennesareth. It was while he was actually engaged in his duties, Καθημένον Ἐπὶ Τὸ Τελώνιον , that he received the call, which he obeyed without delay. Our Lord was then invited by him to a "great feast" ( Luke 5:29), to which perhaps, as Neander has suggested (Life Of Christ, p. 230, Bohn; comp. Blunt, Undes. Coincid. p. 257), by way of farewell, his old associates, Ὄχλος Τελώνων Πολύς , were summoned. The publicans, properly so called (Publicani), were persons who farmed the Roman taxes, and they were usually, in later times, Roman knights, and persons of wealth and credit. They employed under them inferior officers, natives of the province where the taxes were collected, called properly Portitores, to which class Matthew no doubt belonged. These latter were notorious for impudent exactions everywhere (Plautus, Menoech. 1:2, 5; Cic. Ad Quint. Fir. 1:1; Plut. De Curios. p. 518 e); but to the Jews they were especially odious, for they were the very spot where the Roman chain galled them, the visible proof of the degraded state of their nation. As a rule, none but the lowest would accept such an unpopular office, and thus the class became more worthy of the hatred with which in any case the Jews would have regarded it. The readiness, however, with which Matthew obeyed the call of Jesus seems to show that his heart was still open to religious impressions. We find in  Luke 6:13, that when Jesus, before delivering the Sermon on the Mount, selected twelve disciples, who were to form the circle of his more intimate associates, Matthew was one of them. On a subsequent occasion (Luke v. 29), Matthew gave the parting entertainment to his friends. After this event he is mentioned only in  Acts 1:13. A.D. 29.

III. Traditionary Notices. According to a statement in Clemens Alexandrinus (Paedagog. 2:1), Matthew abstained from animal food. Hence some writers have rather hastily concluded that he belonged to the sect of the Essenes. It is true that the Essenes practiced abstinence in a high degree, but it is not true that they rejected animal food altogether. Admitting the account in Clemens Alexandrinus to be correct, it proves only a certain ascetic strictness, of which there occur vestiges in the habits of other Jews (comp. Josephus, Life, 2 and 3). Some interpreters find also in Romans 14 an allusion to Jews of ascetic principles. According to another account, which is as old as the first century, and which occurs in the Κήρυγμα Πέτρου in Clemens Alexandrinus (Stroml. 6:15), Matthew, after the death of Jesus, remained about fifteen years in Jerusalem. This agrees with the statement in Eusebius (Hist. Eccles. 3:24), that Matthew preached to his own nation before he went to foreign countries. Rufinus (Hist.  Ecclesiastes 10:9) and Socrates (Hist. Eccles. 1:19) state that he afterwards went into Ethiopia (Meroe); but Ambrose says that God opened to him the country of the Persians (In Psalms 45); Isidore, the Macedonians (Isidore Hisp. De Sanct. 77); and others the Parthians, the Medes, the Persians of the Euphrates (comp. Florini Exercit. hist. phil. p. 23; Credner, Einl. ins N.T. I 1:58). There also he probably preached specially to the Jews. See Abdiae, Histor. Apost. 7, in Fabricii Cod. apocrs. 1:636; Perionii Vit. Apost. p. 114; comp. Martyrol. Roma. Sept. 21. According to Heracleon (about A.D. 150) and Clemens Alexandrinus (Stronz. 4:9), Matthew was one of those apostles who did not suffer martyrdom, which Clement, Origen, and Tertullian seem to accept: the tradition that he died a martyr, be it true or false, came in afterwards (Niceph. II.E. 2:41). Tischendorf has published the apocryphal "Acts and Martyrdom of Matthew" (Acta Apocrypha, Lips. 1841). (See Spurious Acts).

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [13]

Matth´ew. According to , Matthew was a son of Alphaeus. It is generally supposed that Jacobus, or James, the son of Alphaeus, was a son of Mary, the wife of Cleophas, who was a sister of the mother of Jesus . If this opinion is correct, Matthew was one of the relations of Jesus. Matthew was a portitor, or inferior collector of customs at Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee. He was not a publicanus, or general farmer of customs. We may suppose either that he held his appointment at the port of Capernaum, or that he collected the customs on the high road to Damascus, which went through what is now called Khan Minyeh, which place, as Robinson has shown, is the ancient Capernaum. Thus we see that Matthew belonged to the lower class of people.

In , and , he is called Levi. We hence conclude that he had two names. This circumstance is not mentioned in the list of the apostles (Matthew 10 and Luke 6); but the omission does not prove the contrary, as we may infer from the fact that Lebbæus is also called Judas in , in which verse the name Lebbæus is omitted. In is related how Matthew was called to be an apostle. We must, however, suppose that he was previously acquainted with Jesus, since we read in , that when Jesus, before delivering the Sermon on the Mount, selected twelve disciples, who were to form the circle of his more intimate associates, Matthew was one of them. After this Matthew returned to his usual occupation; from which Jesus on leaving Capernaum, called him away. On this occasion Matthew gave a parting entertainment to his friends. After this event he is mentioned only in .

According to a statement in Clemens Alexandrinus, Matthew abstained from animal food. Hence some writers have rather hastily concluded that he belonged to the sect of the Essenes. It is true that the Essenes practiced abstinence in a high degree; but it is not true that they rejected animal food altogether. Admitting the account in Clemens Alexandrinus to be correct, it proves only a certain ascetic strictness, of which there occur vestiges in the habits of other Jews.

According to another account, which is as old as the first century, Matthew, after the death of Jesus, remained about fifteen years in Jerusalem. This agrees with the statement in Eusebius (Hist. Eccles. iii. 24), that Matthew preached to his own nation before he went to foreign countries. Rufinus (Hist. Eccles. x. 9) and Socrates (Hist. Eccles. i. 19) state that he afterwards went into Ethiopia; and other authors mention other countries. There also he probably preached specially to the Jews. According to Heracleon (about A.D. 150) and Clemens Alex. (Strom. iv. 9), Matthew was one of those apostles who did not suffer martyrdom.

The Gospel of St. Matthew

The genuineness of this Gospel has been more strongly attacked than that of any of the three others, as well by external as by internal arguments. With regard to the former, external testimonies are clearly in favor of the genuineness of this Gospel. Its authenticity, indeed, is as well supported as that of any work of classical antiquity. It can also be proved that it was early in use among Christians, and that the Apostolic Fathers at the end of the first century ascribed to it a canonical authority.

A good deal of discussion respecting the question—whether or not there was a Hebrew Gospel of St. Matthew, has arisen out of a statement made by Papias, that 'Matthew wrote the sayings in the Hebrew tongue.' Tholuck, who inclines to the opinion that the original Gospel of St. Matthew was written in Hebrew, thinks it by no means improbable that, after several inaccurate and imperfect translations of this original came into circulation, Matthew himself was prompted by this circumstance to publish a Greek translation, or to have his Gospel translated under his own supervision.

With regard to the internal arguments which have been brought against the authenticity of this Gospel, it has been objected, 1st, that the representations of Matthew have not that vivid clearness which characterizes the narration of an eyewitness, and which we find, for instance, in the Gospel of John. Even Mark and Luke surpass Matthew in this respect. Compare, for example, with sq.; sq. with , sq. This is most striking in the history of his own call, where we should expect a clearer representation.

2nd. He omits some facts which every apostle certainly knew. For instance, he mentions only one journey of Christ to the Passover at Jerusalem, namely, the last; and seems to be acquainted only with one sphere of Christ's activity, namely, Galilee.

3rd. He relates unchronologically, and transposes events to times in which they did not happen; for instance, the event mentioned in must have happened at the commencement of Christ's public career, but Matthew relates it as late as , sq.

4th. He embodies in one discourse several sayings of Christ which, according to Luke, were pronounced at different times (comp. Matthew 5; Matthew 7; Matthew , 23).

To these objections we may reply as follows:—

1st. The gift of narrating luminously is a personal qualification of which even an apostle might be destitute, and which is rarely found among the lower orders of people: this argument therefore has recently been given up altogether. In the history of his call to be an apostle, Matthew has this advantage over Mark and Luke, that he relates the discourse of Christ with greater completeness than these evangelists. Luke relates that Matthew prepared a great banquet in his house, while Matthew simply mentions that an entertainment took place, because the apostle could not well write that he himself prepared a great banquet.

2nd. An argumentum a silentio must not be urged against the evangelists. The raising of Lazarus is narrated only by John; and the raising of the youth at Nain only by Luke; the appearance to five hundred brethren after the resurrection, which, according to the testimony of Paul , was a fact generally known, is not recorded by any of the evangelists. The apparent restriction of Christ's sphere of activity to Galilee we find also in Mark and Luke. This peculiarity arose perhaps from the circumstance that the apostles first taught in Jerusalem, where it was unnecessary to relate what had happened there, but where the events which had taken place in Galilee were unknown, and required to be narrated: thus the sphere of narration may have gradually become fixed.

3rd. There is no reason to suppose that the Evangelists intended to write a chronological biography. On the contrary, we learn from , and , that their object was of a more practical and apologetical tendency. With the exception of John, the Evangelists have grouped their communications more according to the subjects than according to chronological succession. This fact is now generally admitted. The principal groups of facts recorded by St. Matthew are:—1. The preparation of Jesus, narrated in to . 2. The public ministry of Jesus, narrated in to . 3. The conclusion of the life of Jesus, narrated in to .

But our opponents further assert that the Evangelist not only groups together events belonging to different times, but that some of his dates are incorrect: for instance, the date in cannot be correct if Luke 4, has placed the event rightly. If, however, we carefully consider the matter, we shall find that Matthew has placed this fact more chronologically than Luke. It is true that the question in , and the annunciation in , seem to synchronize best with the first public appearance of Jesus. But even Schleiermacher, who, in his work on Luke, generally gives the preference to the arrangement of that evangelist, nevertheless observes (p. 63) that leads us to suppose that Jesus abode for a longer period in Capernaum (comp. the words 'as his custom was' in ).

4th. If the evangelist arranges his statements according to subjects, and not chronologically, we must not be surprised that he connects similar sayings of Christ, inserting them in the longer discourses after analogous topics had been mentioned. These discourses are not compiled by the Evangelist, but always form the fundamental framework to which sometimes analogous subjects are attached. But even this is not the case in the Sermon on the Mount; and in Mathew 13, it may be doubted whether the parables were spoken at different times. In the discourses recorded in Mathew 10 and Mathew 23, it can be proved that several sayings are more correctly placed by Matthew than by Luke (comp. especially with ).

These arguments may be supported by adding the positive internal proofs which exist in favor of the apostolical origin of this Gospel. 1. The nature of the book agrees entirely with the statements of the Fathers of the church, from whom we learn that it was written for Jewish readers. None of the other Evangelists quote the Old Testament so often as Matthew, who, moreover, does not explain the Jewish rites and expressions, which are explained by Mark and John 2. If there is a want of precision in the narration of facts, there is, on the other hand, a peculiar accuracy and richness in the reports given of the discourses of Jesus; so that we may easily conceive why Papias styled the Gospel of Matthew, the sayings of the Lord.

Some of the most beautiful and most important sayings of our Lord, the historical credibility of which no skeptic can attack, have been preserved by Matthew alone (;;; comp. also 11:2-21; 12:3-6, 25-29; 17:12, 25-26; 26:13). Above all, the Sermon on the Mount must here be considered, which is given by Matthew, and which forms the most beautiful and the best arranged whole of all the evangelical discourses.

With regard to the date of this gospel, Clemens Alexandrinus and Origen state that it was written before the others. Irenaeus agrees with them, but places its origin rather late—namely, at the time when Peter and Paul were at Rome. Even De Wette grants that it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem. In proof of this we may also quote .

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [14]

math´ū  : Matthew the apostle and evangelist is mentioned in the 4 catalogues of the apostles in   Matthew 10:3;  Mark 3:18;  Luke 6:15;  Acts 1:13 , though his place is not constant in this list, varying between the 7th and the 8th places and thus exchanging positions with Thomas. The name occurring in the two forms Ματθαῖος , Matthaı́os , and Μαθθαῖος , Maththaı́os , is a Greek reproduction of the Aramaic Mattathyāh , i.e. "gift of Yahweh," and equivalent to Theodore. Before his call to the apostolic office, according to  Matthew 9:9 , his name was Levi. The identity of Matthew and Levi is practically beyond all doubt, as is evident from the predicate in  Matthew 10:3; and from a comparison of  Mark 2:14;  Luke 5:27 with   Matthew 9:9 . Mark calls him "the son of Alpheus" ( Mark 2:14 ), although this cannot have been the Alpheus who was the father of James the Less; for if this James and Matthew had been brothers this fact would doubtless have been mentioned, as is the case with Peter and Andrew, and also with the sons of Zebedee. Whether Jesus, as He did in the case of several others of His disciples, gave him the additional name of Matthew is a matter of which we are not informed. As he was a customs officer (ὁ τελώνης , ho telṓnēs ,  Matthew 10:3 ) in Capernaum, in the territory of Herod Antipas, Matthew was not exactly a Roman official, but was in the service of the tetrarch of Galilee, or possibly a subordinate officer, belonging to the class called portitores , serving under the publicani , or superior officials who farmed the Roman taxes. As such he must have had some education, and doubtless in addition to the native Aramaic must have been acquainted with the Greek His ready acceptance of the call of Jesus shows that he must have belonged to that group of publicans and sinners, who in Galilee and elsewhere looked longingly to Jesus ( Matthew 11:19;  Luke 7:34;  Luke 15:1 ). Just at what period of Christ's ministry he was called does not appear with certainty, but evidently not at once, as on the day when he was called ( Matthew 9:11 ,  Matthew 9:14 ,  Matthew 9:18;  Mark 5:37 ), Peter, James and John are already trustworthy disciples of Jesus. Unlike the first six among the apostles, Matthew did not enter the group from among the pupils of John the Baptist. These are practically all the data furnished by the New Testament on the person of Matthew, and what is found in post-Biblical and extra-Biblical sources is chiefly the product of imagination and in part based on mistaking the name of Matthew for Matthias (compare Zahn, Introduction to the New Testament , chapter liv, note 3). Tradition states that he preached for 15 years in Palestine and that after this he went to foreign nations, the Ethiopians, Macedonians, Syrians, Persians, Parthians and Medea being mentioned. He is said to have died a natural death either in Ethiopia or in Macedonia. The stories of the Roman Catholic church that he died the death of a martyr on September 21 and of the Greek church that this occurred on November 10 are without any historical basis. Clement of Alexandria ( Strom ., iv. 9) gives the explicit denial of Heracleon that Matthew suffered martyrdom.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [15]

A publican, by the Sea of Tiberias, who being called became a disciple and eventually an apostle of Christ; generally represented in Christian art as an old man with a large flowing beard, often occupied in writing his gospel, with an angel standing by.