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matthew Summary and Overview

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matthew in Easton's Bible Dictionary

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 (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.

matthew in Smith's Bible Dictionary

(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 #Ac 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. --ED.)

matthew in Schaff's Bible Dictionary

MAT'THEW , derived from the same word as MATTHI'AS, Acts 1:23, Acts 11:26 (gift of God), apostle, and author of the first canonical Gospel. His original name was Levi, Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27, 1 Chr 2:29, which, like that of Simon and of Saul, was changed on his being called to the apostleship. He was a publican or tax-gatherer near the Sea of Galilee, on the route between Damascus and the Phoenician seaports, and was called by our Lord immediately from the toll-booth. This avocation was regarded by the Jews with contempt, but it doubtless gave him an extensive knowledge of human nature, and accurate business habits, which tended to fit him for his great work as an evangelist The N.T. is silent in regard to his special labors, but he was among 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 legendary. The Gospel according to Matthew was probably written in Palestine, and certainly for Jewish Christians. It presents Christ as the last and greatest Lawgiver and Prophet, as the Fulfiller of the 0.T., as the Messiah and King of the true people of Israel. Its arrangement is not strictly chronological, but topical, grouping together the works and sayings of Christ according to their similarity. Though a simple narrative in its form, and not proposing any definite design on the part of the author, it is in fact an historical proof that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. The frequent references to the fulfilment of O.T. prophecy suggest this purpose. While it is not certain that it was the first in time, it deserves the first place in the N.T., forming, as it does, the best link between the O. and the N.T., between the Law and the Gospel. It occupies the same position in the canon of the N.T. as the Pentateuch in that of the O.T., giving us, in the Sermon on the Mount, a counterpart of the legislation from Mount Sinai, the fundamental law of the Christian Church. The genealogy, the revelation to Joseph, the visit of the Magi, peculiar to this Gospel, all combine to make the impression, as one begins to read, that here is the fulfilment, not the abolition, of the old dispensation; and this impression is deepened by the Sermon on the Mount, the parables of the kingdom of heaven, the discourse against the Pharisees, and the repeated citations from the O.T. prophecies which are declared to be fulfilled in Christ. With respect to the language in which this Gospel first was written, two different views have been set forth: 1. That it was originally composed in Hebrew -- i.e., Syro-Chaldaic, or Western Aramaic, the dialect spoken in Palestine by the Jewish Christians; 2. That it was written in Greek, as we now possess it. The testimony of the early Church unanimously favors the first view. Those Fathers who assert that Matthew wrote in Hebrew also assert that his work was translated into Greek, and unhesitatingly employ the present Greek Gospel as a faithful representative of the apostolic production. If we accept a Hebrew original, then we must also conclude that when the necessity for a Greek version became obvious, Matthew himself made, or caused to be made, the present Greek Gospel. Of this there is no positive and direct proof, but it accords with the testimony of the Fathers and accounts for the double assignment of dates which we find, and also for the universal acceptance of our Gospel. On the other side, it has been urged in favor of a Greek original or of the original character of our Gospel, not only that the testimony of the Fathers is insufficient, unsatisfactory, and at times confused, but that the evidence from the Gospel itself is abundantly conclusive on this point. The theory of a version by Matthew himself will account for the early citation of the present Greek text, but not so readily for certain facts in the Gospel itself. It agrees most exactly with the other two synoptists, Mark and Luke, in the discourses, especially those of our Lord, and differs from them most in the narrative portions. And further, where citations from the O.T. occur in the discourses, they are usually from the Septuagint, while those in the narrative appear to be independent translations from the Hebrew, It is argued that a mere translator could not have done this, but an independent writer, using the Greek tongue and wishing to conform his narrative to the oral teaching of the apostles, might have used for the quotations the well-known Greek O.T. used by his colleagues. The whole question is an open one, and it is to be hoped that some future archaeological discoveries will settle it. The drift of scholarly opinion, however, is toward the acceptance of a Greek original. In any case, there is no reason for doubting the genuineness of the canonical Gospel. With regard to the time when it was written there is great uncertainty. Evidently, Jerusalem had not been destroyed, but its destruction is foretold, Matt 24, in a manner that is only explicable on the assumption of its being still a future event to the writer. On the other hand, it is evident that some time had elapsed since the events it records had occurred. Matt 27:7-8; Matt 28:15. Some of the ancients give the eighth year after the Ascension as the date, others the fifteenth. If there was an original Hebrew Gospel, the earlier date belongs to it; but we would place our present Gospel between 60 and 66 - a period during which both Mark and Luke probably wrote their Gospels.

matthew in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

("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).