In the New Testament, Saint Matthew was the New Testament tax collector called by Jesus Christ to be one of the 12 apostles (Matt. 9:9). Matthew has often been identified with Levi, the son of Alphaeus, also a tax collector (Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27-28). Although traditionally regarded as the author of the Gospel According to Saint Matthew, modern scholarship strongly disputes this attribution. Matthew's symbol as an evangelist is an angel, and in art he is often depicted with sword and money bag. Feast day: Sept. 21 (Western); Nov. 16 (Eastern).
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Matthew, gift of God, was 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 (Matt. 9:9). Formerly the name by which he was known was Levi (Mark 2:14; Luke 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" (Luke 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 (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 Acts 1:13. The time and manner of his death are unknown.
(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)
Apostle and evangelist.
The name Matthew is derived from the Hebrew Mattija, being shortened to Mattai in post-Biblical Hebrew. In Greek it is sometimes spelled Maththaios, BD, and sometimes Matthaios, CEKL, but grammarians do not agree as to which of the two spellings is the original.
Matthew is spoken of five times in the New Testament; first in Matthew 9:9, when called by Jesus to follow Him, and then four times in the list of the Apostles, where he is mentioned in the seventh (Luke 6:15, and Mark 3:18), and again in the eighth place (Matthew 10:3, and Acts 1:13). The man designated in Matthew 9:9, as "sitting in the custom house", and "named Matthew" is the same as Levi, recorded in Mark 2:14, and Luke 5:27, as "sitting at the receipt of custom". The account in the three Synoptics is identical, the vocation of Matthew-Levi being alluded to in the same terms. Hence Levi was the original name of the man who was subsequently called Matthew; the Maththaios legomenos of Matthew 9:9, would indicate this.
The fact of one man having two names is of frequent occurrence among the Jews. It is true that the same person usually bears a Hebrew name such as "Shaoul" and a Greek name, Paulos. However, we have also examples of individuals with two Hebrew names as, for instance, Joseph-Caiaphas, Simon-Cephas, etc. It is probable that Mattija, "gift of Iaveh", was the name conferred upon the tax-gatherer by Jesus Christ when He called him to the Apostolate, and by it he was thenceforth known among his Christian brethren, Levi being his original name.
Matthew, the son of Alpheus (Mark 2:14) was a Galilean, although Eusebius informs us that he was a Syrian. As tax-gatherer at Capharnaum, he collected custom duties for Herod Antipas, and, although a Jew, was despised by the Pharisees, who hated all publicans. When summoned by Jesus, Matthew arose and followed Him and tendered Him a feast in his house, where tax-gatherers and sinners sat at table with Christ and His disciples. This drew forth a protest from the Pharisees whom Jesus rebuked in these consoling words: "I came not to call the just, but sinners".
No further allusion is made to Matthew in the Gospels, except in the list of the Apostles. As a disciple and an Apostle he thenceforth followed Christ, accompanying Him up to the time of His Passion and, in Galilee, was one of the witnesses of His Resurrection. He was also amongst the Apostles who were present at the Ascension, and afterwards withdrew to an upper chamber, in Jerusalem, praying in union with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and with his brethren (Acts 1:10 and 1:14).
Of Matthew's subsequent career we have only inaccurate or legendary data. St. Irenæus tells us that Matthew preached the Gospel among the Hebrews, St. Clement of Alexandria claiming that he did this for fifteen years, and Eusebius maintains that, before going into other countries, he gave them his Gospel in the mother tongue. Ancient writers are not as one as to the countries evangelized by Matthew, but almost all mention Ethiopia to the south of the Caspian Sea (not Ethiopia in Africa), and some Persia and the kingdom of the Parthians, Macedonia, and Syria.
According to Heracleon, who is quoted by Clement of Alexandria, Matthew did not die a martyr, but this opinion conflicts with all other ancient testimony. Let us add, however, that the account of his martyrdom in the apocryphal Greek writings entitled "Martyrium S. Matthæi in Ponto" and published by Bonnet, "Acta apostolorum apocrypha" (Leipzig, 1898), is absolutely devoid of historic value. Lipsius holds that this "Martyrium S. Matthæi", which contains traces of Gnosticism, must have been published in the third century.
There is a disagreement as to the place of St. Matthew's martyrdom and the kind of torture inflicted on him, therefore it is not known whether he was burned, stoned, or beheaded. The Roman Martyrology simply says: "S. Matthæi, qui in Æthiopia prædicans martyrium passus est".
Various writings that are now considered apocryphal, have been attributed to St. Matthew. In the "Evangelia apocrypha" (Leipzig, 1876), Tischendorf reproduced a Latin document entitled: "De Ortu beatæ Mariæ et infantia Salvatoris", supposedly written in Hebrew by St. Matthew the Evangelist, and translated into Latin by Jerome, the priest. It is an abridged adaptation of the "Protoevangelium" of St. James, which was a Greek apocryphal of the second century. This pseudo-Matthew dates from the middle or the end of the sixth century.
The Latin Church celebrates the feast of St. Matthew on 21 September, and the Greek Church on 16 November. St. Matthew is represented under the symbol of a winged man, carrying in his hand a lance as a characteristic emblem.
Publication information Written by E. Jacquier. Transcribed by Ernie Stefanik. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York
(This information may not be of the scholastic quality of the other articles in BELIEVE. Since few Orthodox scholarly articles have been translated into English, we have had to rely on Orthodox Wiki as a source. Since the Wikipedia collections do not indicate the author's name for articles, and essentially anyone is free to edit or alter any of their articles (again, without any indication of what was changed or who changed it), we have concerns. However, in order to include an Orthodox perspective in some of our subject presentations, we have found it necessary to do this. At least until actual scholarly Orthodox texts are translated from the Greek originals!)
The holy, glorious and all-laudable Apostle and Evangelist Matthew is traditionally believed to be the author of the Gospel of Matthew. The apostle's symbol is an angel. He is commemorated by the Church on November 16, as well as on June 30 with the Twelve.
Matthew was originally called Levi. He was the son of Alphaeus and was by profession a publican, or tax-collector, 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 Christ, becoming his disciple (Matthew 9:9). He changed his name to reflect his new calling. "Matthew" means "Gift of the Lord."
The same day on which Jesus called him he made a "great feast" (Luke 5:29), a farewell feast, to which he invited Jesus and his disciples and probably also many of his old associates. The last notice of him in the New Testament is in Acts 1:13.
After the resurrection of our Lord, Matthew went and preached amongst the Jews. His Gospel was probably first written in Aramaic and later translated into Greek. Eventually Matthew went to Ethiopia to spread the gospel. There he was martyred by Fulvian, the ruler of the region, by being set on fire. After Matthew willingly gave up his soul to the Lord, his body was put in a coffin and cast into the sea. It washed up at the site of the church he had built. Fulvian, Matthew's persecutor, immediately repented of his deed, renounced his position of worldly power, and was made a presbyter by the Bishop Platon (or Plato). Once Platon died, the apostle appeared to the priest (who had taken the name Matthew as well) and told him to assume the bishop's throne.
Troparion (Tone 3) 
With zeal, you followed Christ the Master,
who in His goodness, appeared on earth to mankind.
Summoning you from the custom house,
He revealed you as a chosen apostle:
the proclaimer of the Gospel to the whole world!
Therefore, divinely eloquent Matthew,
we honor your precious memory!
Entreat merciful God that He may grant our souls remission of transgressions.
Kontakion (Tone 4) 
Casting aside the bonds of the custom house for the yoke of justice,
you were revealed as an excellent merchant, rich in wisdom from on high.
You proclaimed the word of truth
and roused the souls of the slothful
by writing of the hour of Judgment.
Apostle and Evangelist Matthew, November 16 (OCA)
Evangelist Matthew Icon and Story
Apostle and Evangelist Matthew, June 30 (OCA)
Matthew the Apostle & Evangelist (GOARCH)
One of Matthew's parents is recorded in Scripture, his father Alphaeus (Mark 2:14). Although many would like to make him the brother of James the Less, there is nothing to support such a claim other than the fact that their fathers had the same name.
Also called Levi ("joined"), Matthew ("gift of the Lord") was a Jewish tax collector at Capernaum. Publicans were despised by the Jews because they worked for the hated Roman government and took money from their own people, often even more than the Romans required in taxes. They were counted among the worst of the "open sinners." In the eyes of society they were on the same level with prostitutes.
Since Jesus was using Capernaum as his headquarters during his public ministry, Matthew had undoubtedly heard about Jesus and his miracles. Perhaps he had even witnessed the Savior in action. Matthew was sitting in his tax-collecting booth when Jesus called him to follow. Not only did Matthew follow Jesus, he also prepared a banquet in his honor. To this festive meal Matthew invited the outcasts of society - other publicans and open sinners. (Mark 2:13-17; Matthew 9:9-13; Luke 5:27-32) If Jesus wanted to be popular with the people, choosing a publican as a disciple would not have been a good move. The Savior, however, was not concerned about popularity, rather he was concerned about souls.
Although we don't hear much about his activity as a disciple, the Lord used Matthew to write one of the gospel accounts. Since Matthew was a Jew, he wrote with other Jews in mind. His gospel spends much time discussing the Old Testament prophecies and pointing out how Jesus fulfilled them. Outside of Scripture: It is generally supposed that for eight years after the ascension of Jesus, Matthew proclaimed the gospel in Judea. The early Christian church believed that Matthew continued his ministry by preaching in Ethiopia and Arabia. Still others suggest he worked in Palmyra and among cannibals on the shores of the Black Sea.
An ancient writer reported that Matthew died a martyr's death in Ethiopia. He was killed with a halberd (a pike or long spear that was fitted with an ax head) in Nadabah.
The symbol for Matthew reflects his former occupation. The three moneybags (purses) remind us that he had been a tax collector before he became a gatherer of souls in the Savior's Kingdom: Sometimes the symbol for Matthew is an ax, the instrument of his beheading. Other symbols for this apostle depict a book, indicating his authorship of a gospel.
James F. Korthals
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