Remembering Matthew

JanRizzo
09/26/2013

Remembering Matthew

A mosaic of the symbol of Matthew on the façade of St. Paul’s in Rome.

In the church calendar we remember Matthew, apostle and evangelist on Sept. 21. Here are 12 things about Matthew that you may not know.
  1. Matthew was one of the 12 apostles of Jesus and one of the four evangelists. An apostle is a disciple-turned-teacher. Matthew was one of Jesus’ disciples who went out as an apostle to teach others. The distinction of “evangelist” is given to the four authors of the Gospels.
  2. As mentioned in Matthew 9:9, Matthew was a former tax collector from Capernaum. Jesus called Matthew while he was collecting money, presumably for Herod Antipas, at a tax booth. Tax collectors were considered outcasts in both the Jewish society and religion.
  3. As a tax collector Matthew would have been literate in Aramaic and Greek.
  4. The apostles Matthew and James are described as being the “Son of Alphaeus.” There is no biblical account of the two being brothers.
  5. The name “Matthew” was attached to the Gospel in the second century A.D. Post-modern scholars believe that this Gospel was written by an unknown author. However, early Christian writers Clement and Irenaeus claim the apostle Matthew as the writer of the first book of the New Testament.
  6. The four evangelists have been depicted as winged, living figures since the early Christian artists. The winged creatures are taken from the vision of Ezekiel and the Revelation of John. Matthew is most often represented by a creature in human likeness with wings. It is said that this is because of the human nature of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew.
  7. After the day of Pentecost nothing is written about Matthew in the Bible. Traditionally, Matthew was said to have preached in the area of Palestine for 15 years. There is also a belief that Matthew traveled to Ethiopia and yet another tradition claims that he spread the gospel in Parthia and Persia.
  8. Matthew is this apostle’s Greek name, which means “gift of the Lord.” He is also called Levi, the son of Alpheus in Mark 2:14 and Luke 5:27.
  9. Matthew is spoken of five times in the New Testament — Matthew 9:9, Luke 6:15, Mark 3:18, Matthew 10:3 and Acts 1:13.
  10. As recorded in the New Testament, Matthew was one of the witnesses of the resurrection and the ascension.
  11. The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church each hold the tradition that Matthew died as a martyr. There is no historical evidence to support this claim.
  12. The western Church celebrates the feast of St. Matthew on Sept. 21 and the Orthodox Church on Nov. 16.
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