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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Matthew (Apostle)

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MATTHEW (APOSTLE). Two sets of parallel passages, both from the Petrine tradition, tell us of this chosen companion of our Lord. The first ( Matthew 9:9 , Mark 2:14 , Luke 5:27 ) narrates his call. He was named both ‘Matthew’ (Mt.) and ‘ Levi ’ (Mk. [where some Western MSS read ‘James’] and Lk.), and was the son of Alphæus (Mk.). He was a publican (Lk.), and was ‘sitting at the place of toll’ (Mt., Mk., Lk.) near Capernaum, which lay on the road from Damascus to the Mediterranean; here he collected dues for Herod the tetrarch. No doubt he was only an agent, not one of the wealthy farmers of the taxes. Nevertheless he must have been fairly rich, and had much to give up in following Jesus. The call is followed by a meal (Mt., Mk.), a great feast given to Jesus by Matthew himself (Lk.), which roused the anger of the ‘scribes of the Pharisees.’ The name ‘Matthew’ probably means ‘Gift of Jahweh’ (cf. ‘Theodore’), and is another form of ‘Matthias’; though some take it as meaning ‘strong.’ ‘manly.’ It was doubtless given to Levi as an additional name, perhaps (like ‘Peter’) by our Lord Himself.

The second set of passages gives the list of the Twelve (Matthew 10:3 , Mark 3:16 , Luke 6:15 , Acts 1:15 ). In all these the surname ‘Matthew’ is given, not ‘Levi,’ just as ‘Bartholomew’ and ‘Thomas’ are surnames; and in all four Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, and James the (son) of Alphæus are mentioned together, though not always in the same order. In two lists (Mt., Ac.) Matthew comes next to James (though they are not joined together as a pair); in the other two, next but one. If then we take the view that this James is neither the brother of our Lord, nor yet the same as James the Little ( Mark 15:40 ), and if we negative the idea that ‘Alpæeus’ (Aram. [Note: Aramaic.] Khalphai ) and ‘Clopas’ are one name, there is perhaps something to be said for the opinion that Matthew and James were brothers. But they are not mentioned together elsewhere. Only in the Mt. list is the designation ‘the publican’ added. For Matthew’s connexion with the First Gospel, see the next article. We have no trustworthy information as to his later career.

A. J. Maclean.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Matthew (Apostle)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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Thursday, October 22nd, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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