An apostle and evangelist, was son of Alpheus, a Galilean by birth, a Jew by religion, and a publican by profession, Mt 9:9; 10:3; Lu 6:15. The other evangelists call him only LEVI, which was his Hebrew name, Mr 2:14; Lu 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, Mt 9:9; Mr 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.
gift of God, a common Jewish name after the Exile. He was the son of Alphaeus, and was a publican or tax-gatherer at Capernaum. On one occasion Jesus, coming up from the side of the lake, passed the custom-house where Matthew was seated, and said to him, "Follow me." Matthew arose and followed him, and became his disciple (Mt 9:9). Formerly the name by which he was known was Levi (Mr 2:14; Lu 5:27); he now changed it, possibly in grateful memory of his call, to Matthew. The same day on which Jesus called him he made a "great feast" (Lu 5:29), a farewell feast, to which he invited Jesus and his disciples, and probably also many of old associates. He was afterwards selected as one of the twelve (Lu 6:15). His name does not occur again in the Gospel history except in the lists of the apostles. The last notice of him is in Ac 1:13. The time and manner of his death are unknown.
("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 (Mr 2:14, compare Mr 3:18) and Luke (Lu 5:27, compare with Lu 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 (Mr 3:18) and Luke (Lu 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 (Mt 9:9), and in his catalogue of the apostles (Mt 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 (Mt 9:9-13; Lu 5:29; Mr 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 (Ac 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).
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. Mt 9:9; 10:3; Mr 3:18; Lu 6:15; Ac 1:13. He is called LEVI in Mr 2:14; Lu 5:27,29.
(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 was 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
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. --ED.)
MATTHEW, 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 character