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Biblical People
Matthew. [Gr. Matthaios, probably from the Aramaic Mattay or Mattay, "gift of Yahweh."] A publican who became a disciple of Jesus. A comparison of Mt 9:9 with ch 10:3; Mk 2:14; Lk 5:27 clearly identifies Levi and Matthew as one and the same person. Matthew was the son of Alphaeus (Mk 2:14), but probably not the brother of James the son of Alphaeus (Mt 10:3), or the Gospel writers would have mentioned them as brothers, as they do Peter and Andrew, and James and John (Mt 10:2).

Matthew refers to himself as Matthew (ch 9:9); whereas Mark and Luke call him Levi, and Mark identifies him as the son of Alphaeus (Mk 2:14; Lk 5:27). It may be that Jesus assigned him the name of Matthew at the time of his call to discipleship (cf. Mk 3:16; Jn 1:42). The fact that all 4 lists of the 12 apostles call him Matthew rather than Levi (Mt 10:3; Mk 3:18; Lk 6:15; Acts 1:13) implies that this was his name as a disciple.

Matthew was a "publican," or tax gatherer, stationed at Capernaum (Mt 9:9), probably in the service of Herod Antipas. He had apparently listened with interest to the message proclaimed by Jesus, and when summoned to become a disciple he immediately resigned his occupation. Not long afterward, he was appointed as one of the Twelve (ch 10:2, 3). Being a tax collector, Matthew must have had some education and may well have been acquainted with Greek as well as his native Aramaic. At some time subsequent to his call, Matthew made Jesus the guest of honour at a feast to which he invited his former associates at the tax office (see Mk 2:14-17). Matthew's modest reference to himself in connection with the feast (Mt 9:10; cf. Lk 5:29) is reminiscent of the unobtrusive way in which John (Jn 21:24) refers to himself.

The fact that Matthew's Gospel was obviously written for Jews may imply that he devoted his later apostolic ministry to people of his own race. Nothing further is known about his later life or labours -- Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary.

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