MATHEW (GOSPEL WRITER)



MATHEW WAS AN TAX COLLECTOR FOR THE ROMANS AND BECAME ONE OF JESUS' TWELVE APOSTLES, ACCORDING, TO EARLY TRADITION, HE WAS THE AUTHOR OF GOSPEL OF MATHEW. THOUGH HE IS CALLED MATHEW IN ALL THE LISTS OF THE APOSTLES (MATHEW 10:3, MARK 3:18, Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13), HE IS REFERRED TO AS LEVI-HIS OTHER NAME-IN TWO OF THE ACCOUNTS OF HIS CALLING (MARK 2:14;LUKE 5:27-29). HIS FATHER WAS NAMED ALPHAEUS (MARK 2;14), BUT THERE IS NO CERTAINLY THAT HE IS THE BROTHER OF JAMES THE SON OF ALPHAEUS (THE TWO ARE NOT LINKED IN THE LISTS OF THE APOSTLES, AS THE OTHER PAIRS OF BROTHERS ARE )

JEWS WHO COLLECTED TAXES FOR THE ROMANS WERE GENERALLY CONSIDERED DESPICABLE SINNERS BY THEIR FELLOW JEWS. THEY PROFITED FROM WORKING FOR THE OCCUPYING FORCES AND ENGAGED IN LEGALIZED EXTORTIONS. THUS IT IS SIGNIFICANT THAT JESUS CALLED A TAX COLLECTOR TO BECOME ONE OF HIS FOLLOWERS. WHEN JESUS WAS CRITICIZED BY THE PHARISEES FOR ACCEPTING MATHEW'S INVITATION TO HIS HOME FOR DINNER, AND FOR EATING WITH TAX COLLECTORS AND OTHER DISREPUTABLE SINNERS, JESUS USED THE OCCASION TO TEACH THE IMPORTANCE OF COMPASSION (MATHEW 9:13). HE EMPHASIZED THAT IT WAS PRECISELY FOR SUCH SINNERS-NOT THOSE WHO CONSIDERED THEMSELVES RIGHTEOUS-THAT HE HAD COME. MATHEW RESPONDED IMMEDIATELY TO JESUS' CALL, LEAVING EVERYTHING BEHIND TO FOLLOW JESUS (Luke 5:28). THE IMPLICATION IS THAT HE NEVER TURNED BACK TO TAX COLLECTING OR HIS FORMER WAY OF LIFE.

MATHEW'S GOSPEL, WRITTEN FOR HIS FELLOW JEWS, GIVES US A JEWISH PERSPECTIVE ON THE LIFE AND TEACHINGS OF JESUS, AND IT INCLUDES TOPICS OF SPECIAL INTEREST FOR THOSE FROM A JEWISH BACKGROUND (MATHEW INTRODUCTION). HIS GOSPEL WAS THE MOST POPULAR GOSPEL IN THE EARLY CHURCH - WHICH IS PROBABLY WHY IT OCCURS FIRST IN THE CANONICAL SEQUENCE.

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