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Saint Matthew
St MatthewOrsanmicheleFlorence.jpg

Saint Matthew by Lorenzo Ghiberti
Apostle, Evangelist, Martyr
Born Born::January 1, 1 BC
Died Died::January 24, 34 AD
Venerated in Roman Catholicism
Eastern Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy
Canonized Pre-congregation
Major shrine Salerno, Italy
Feast September 21 (Western Christianity)
November 16 (Eastern Christianity)
Attributes tax collector
Patronage Accountants

Matthew (born::January 1, 1 BC to died::January 24, 34 AD), (Hebrew: מתיה, Mattạyāh or מתי, Mattạy; Greek: Ματθαίος, Matthaios; Latin: Matthæus; "Gift of YHWH"), most often called Saint Matthew or Matthew the Evangelist, is a Christian figure, and one of Jesus' Twelve Apostles. He is known for the Gospel of his name which was written in the 30's AD. It was originally written in Hebrew but was translated into Greek around 44 AD presumably when the apostles were being persecuted and had to flee the Palestine region.[1]


From very early times he has been regarded as the author of the Gospel of Matthew, first of the four Gospels, to which both Irenaeus and Papias are witnesses. Matthew was a native of Cana, the scene of the wedding feast at which Jesus performed his first miracle of changing the water to wine. He was the son of Alpheus and was called to be an Apostle while sitting in the tax collectors place at Capernaum. Before his conversion he was a publican, i.e., a tax collector by profession. He is to be identified with the Levi of Mark and Luke.

His apostolic activity was at first restricted to the communities of Israel. There is a tradition that points to Ethiopia as his field of labor; other traditions mention of Parthia and Persia.

The Holy Bible

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.

Catholics says that Matthew's Gospel was written to fill a sorely-felt want for his fellow countrymen, both believers and unbelievers. For the former, it served as a token of his regard and as an encouragement in the trial to come, especially the danger of falling back to Judaism; for the latter, it was designed to convince them that the Messiah had come in the person of Jesus, in Whom all the promises of the Messianic Kingdom embracing all people had been fulfilled in a spiritual rather than in a carnal way: "My Kingdom is not of this world." His Gospel, then, answered the question put by the disciples of John the Baptist, "Are You He Who is to come, or shall we look for another?"

The Gospel of Matthew, names Matthew as the toll collector called by Jesus, whom the other gospels name "Levi". This gospel subsequently gives Matthew the title "the toll collector" in his list of the Twelve Apostles. Christian tradition holds that Matthew and Levi were, in fact, two names for the same person. Most exegetes posit that the writer of the Gospel of Matthew changed Levi's name to Matthew for his own theological reasons, possibly to ensure that all disciples called by Jesus (as Levi had been) were members of the Twelve. If one concludes that the Gospel of Matthew's stories of St. Matthew are based on Mark's stories of Levi, a different person, then one can say nothing about Matthew the Apostle besides the fact that he was one of the Twelve.

Writing for his countrymen of Israel, Matthew composed his Gospel in his native Aramaic, the "Hebrew tongue" mentioned in the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Soon afterward, about the time of the persecution of Herod Agrippa I in 42 AD, he took his departure for other lands. Another tradition places the composition of his Gospel either between the time of this departure and the Council of Jerusalem, between 42 AD and 50 AD or later. Definitely, the Gospel, depicting the Holy City with its altar and temple as still existing, and without any reference to the fulfillment of Lord's prophecy, shows that it was written before the destruction of the city by the Romans in 70 AD, and this internal evidence confirms the early traditions.

Matthew preached the Gospel for many years after the death of Christ, traveling throughout the Holy Land and finally meeting a martyr's death at the hands of pagans in Ethiopia. His final verse is his epitaph. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Other narrators

By Rembrandt

Saint Irenaeus (Greek: Ειρηναίος) 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 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 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,[2] which was a Greek apocryphal of the second century. This pseudo-Matthew dates from the middle or the end of the sixth century.

Annual Celebration

The Greek Church celebrates the feast of St. Matthew on 16 November, and the Latin Church on 21 September. St. Matthew is represented under the symbol of a winged man, carrying in his hand a lance as a characteristic emblem.


See Also


  • Matthew: Evangelist and Teacher, R. T. France
    • The New Out of the Old - St Matthew, Buetow, Harold A.
    • St. Matthew Passion, Bwv 244, in Full Score, J. S. Bach,
    • Sacra Pagina - The Gospel of Matthew, Harrington, Daniel J.; Harrington, Dainel J. ; Senior, Donald P, Liturgical Press, 1991 BookPlus
    • The Earliest Christian Mission to 'All Nations' in the Light of Matthew's Gospel, James LaGrand (Author), Richard, J. Bauckham (Foreword), 1971,
    • Catena Aurea - Gospel of Matthew, Thomas Aquinas, Saint (1225-1274), J.G.F. and J. Rivington, 1842 Christian Classics
    • Christ: The Gospel of Matthew Beautifully Designed for the Internet Age, Ruth Rimm, 2005,
    • The Gospel of Matthew, Donald Senior,


  1. Papias (Early Second Century) Synopsis
  2. Otero, Aurelio de Santos, (2006) (in Spanish). Los Evangelios Apocrifos [The apocryphal gospels] (10th ed.). Madrid: La Editorial Catolica - Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos. p. 126. ISBN 84-7914-044-5. 

External Links