Part 9

November 19, 2017


BEFORE we begin, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, take a moment to name your sins to God the Father. This will allow you to be filled with the power of The Holy Spirit as you read this booklet (EPH 5:18 & 1JO 1:9). IF YOU HAVE never believed in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have that opportunity right now. Simply tell God the Father that you are believing on His Son Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you make that decision, you are now a believer and will always be a child of God! When you die, you will sp end eternity with Him forever in heaven! (JOH 3:16 & ACT 16:31).


As we continue to learn about Matthew, we are going to look at his personality. The apostles’ personalities are fascinating – each different, each representative of all types of people. This leads us to believe that God intended to have a variety of men with whom many others would identify. As we learned last week, Matthew served King Herod Antipas in Capernaum of Galilee collecting tariffs (taxes) on goods passing through on the road from Damascus to the Mediterranean Sea or to Jerusalem. To function in this capacity, Matthew would have been an educated man, acquainted with the Greek language, as well as the native Aramaic.


In addition, because of his profession, he was most likely a wealthy man. This is substantiated by the fact that he hosted a banquet for Our Lord and his disciples, as well as many of Matthew’s previous associates:  And Levi [Matthew] gave a big reception for Him [Jesus] in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them. (LUKE 5:29)


So, we see that he was very intelligent and wealthy, but he also had to have a tough demeanor and thick skin as he was collecting taxes from his fellow Jews, sometimes forcibly, and at the same time enduring their hatred. The writer Thayer notes: “The tax collectors were as a class, detested not only by the Jews, but by other nations also, both on account of their employment and of the harshness, greed, and deception with which they did their job.”

As a result of Matthews’ acceptance of Christ, many other tax collectors and so- called “sinners” came to hear Jesus, so, he must have been respected and influential among those groups. Matthew also had a number of valuable skills including keeping meticulous records, having a tough skin and demeanor, understanding people and their motivations, and understanding wealth along with insults. These would be valuable assets in The Ministry of Christ. Matthew’s skills, when combined with Our Lord’s discipleship, would lead him to be a valuable witness, recorder, and author of the Gospel.

He is listed among the twelve apostles in MARK 3:18 and LUKE 6:15 as seventh. In MAT 10:3 and ACTS 1:13, he is listed eighth, swapping positions with Thomas. Aside from these lists, Matthew is only mentioned in the record of his calling by Christ (see MAT 9:9; MARK 2:13-14; LUKE 5:27). John never mentions him.


While Matthew was performing his job as a tax collector, “sitting in the tax office,” Jesus said to him, “Follow Me!” He probably already knew Jesus because he immediately rose, and followed Him.” (See MAT 9:9-10; MARK 2:14-15; LUKE 5:27-29).


Unlike the first six among the Apostles, Matthew did not enter the group from because he had been a pupil of John the Baptist because there is no account of him following John the Baptist. Therefore, he must have known about Jesus from his early works in Capernaum, as indicated by his non-hesitant response to Jesus’ call. At what period of Christ’s Ministry he was called, we do not know with certainty. Evidently, it was not at the very beginning, because on the day he was called, Peter, James, and John are depicted as already being trustworthy Disciples of Jesus, who attended the banquet with Him. Likewise, at the following “reception for Him in his house,” Pharisees were already prowling about and complained to Christ’s disciples during this feast. It was at this feast that the Pharisees and their scribes made the well-known complaint in LUKE 5:29-32, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”


The reception to which he invited Jesus and his disciples was perhaps a farewell to his old associates for “many tax-gatherers and sinners came and were dining.” It may have also been a gathering to mark his new relationship with Christ and introduce Him to his old circle of friends, outcasts from Jewish society. After this, there is no mention of him except for his presence in the “Upper Room” in Jerusalem after our Lord’s Ascension: When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. (ACTS 1:13)


According to the testimony of ancient times, Matthew wrote the Gospel that bears his name in the 60’s AD. He wrote it in his native tongue – Hebrew. It was later translated to Greek. It emphasizes Jesus’ Kingship, written for the Jews.


One of the few good sources of historical fact – Eusebius, a historian of Christianity – says Matthew, like John, wrote only under the stress of necessity: “For Matthew, after preaching to Hebrews, when about to go also to others, committed to writing in his native tongue the Gospel that bears his name; and so by his writing supplied, to those, whom he was leaving, the loss of his presence.” In other words, he put his teaching in writing for those he was leaving to go teach elsewhere.


Matthew is said to have died a natural death either in Ethiopia or in Macedonia, but “Foxes Book of Martyrs” disagrees with this. Holman states: “Later legendary accounts tell of Matthew’s travel to Ethiopia where he became associated with Candace, identified with the eunuch of ACTS 8:27: So he [Philip] got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship The legends tell us of Matthew’s martyrdom in that country.” It is thought by some that the stories of the Roman Catholic Church that he died the death of a martyr on September 21 (and of the Greek Church that this occurred on November 10) are without any historical basis. Clement of Alexandria gives the explicit denial of Heracleon that Matthew suffered martyrdom.


“Foxes Book of Martyrs” writes of Matthew in this way: “Whose occupation was that of a toll-gatherer, was born at Nazareth. He wrote his Gospel in Hebrew, which was afterwards translated into Greek by James the Less. The scene of his labors was Parthia, and Ethiopia, in which latter country he suffered martyrdom, being slain with a halberd in the city of Nadabah, A.D. 60.” A halberd is a combined spear and battle-ax.


{to be continued}

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