(previously named LEVI)
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 (Matthew 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, the Gospel according to [EBD]
As to the time of its composition, there is little in the Gospel itself to indicate. It was evidently written before the destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 24), and some time after the events it records. The probability is that it was written between the years A.D. 60 and 65.
The cast of thought and the forms of expression employed by the writer show that this Gospel was written for Jewish Christians of Palestine. His great object is to prove that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah, and that in him the ancient prophecies had their fulfilment. The Gospel is full of allusions to those passages of the Old Testament in which Christ is predicted and foreshadowed. The one aim prevading the whole book is to show that Jesus is he "of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write." This Gospel contains no fewer than sixty-five references to the Old Testament, forty-three of these being direct verbal citations, thus greatly outnumbering those found in the other Gospels. The main feature of this Gospel may be expressed in the motto, "I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil."
As to the language in which this Gospel was written there is much controversy. Many hold, in accordance with old tradition, that it was originally written in Hebrew (i.e., the Aramaic or Syro-Chaldee dialect, then the vernacular of the inhabitants of Palestine), and afterwards translated into Greek, either by Matthew himself or by some person unknown. This theory, though earnestly maintained by able critics, we cannot see any ground for adopting. From the first this Gospel in Greek was received as of authority in the Church. There is nothing in it to show that it is a translation. Though Matthew wrote mainly for the Jews, yet they were everywhere familiar with the Greek language. The same reasons which would have suggested the necessity of a translation into Greek would have led the evangelist to write in Greek at first. It is confessed that this Gospel has never been found in any other form than that in which we now possess it.
The leading characteristic of this Gospel is that it sets forth the kingly glory of Christ, and shows him to be the true heir to David's throne. It is the Gospel of the kingdom. Matthew uses the expression "kingdom of heaven" (thirty-two times), while Luke uses the expression "kingdom of God" (thirty-three times). Some Latinized forms occur in this Gospel, as kodrantes (Matthew 5:26), for the Latin quadrans, and phragello (27:26), for the Latin flagello. It must be remembered that Matthew was a tax-gatherer for the Roman government, and hence in contact with those using the Latin language.
As to the relation of the Gospels to each other, we must maintain that each writer of the synoptics (the first three) wrote independently of the other two, Matthew being probably first in point of time.
"Out of a total of 1071 verses, Matthew has 387 in common with Mark and Luke, 130 with Mark, 184 with Luke; only 387 being peculiar to itself." (See MARK; LUKE; GOSPELS .)
The book is fitly divided into these four parts:
(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 (Acts 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, the Gospel according to [SBD]
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