For Bible Study Nerds

Walking through Capernaum (“his own town”—Matthew 9:1), Jesus came across Mathew sitting at a tax collector’s booth. Christ plucked the man out of obscurity with these two words, “Follow me” (Matthew 9:9). Here’s what we know about that man:

  • The name Matthew means “gift of Jehovah,” or “gift of God.”
  • Matthew was also called “Levi” (see Mark 2:13-17 and Luke 5:27-28) which may have been his birth name, changed later by Jesus to Matthew. Or it may have been a nickname. Or it may have been a tribal designation meaning he was from the Israelite tribe of Levi. Or it may have been part of his full name as in, “Matthew Levi.”
  • He was a known tax collector, a lucrative but despised occupation in ancient Israel. Matthew was well-acquainted with other tax collectors and “sinners,” and invited them to a large party where Jesus was the guest of honor.
  • Some scholars believe that Matthew and Jesus knew each other, or at least knew of each other, prior to the day when Christ called for the tax collector to follow. The assumption is that Jesus’ family would have had to pay taxes at Matthew’s toll booth at one time or another, and also that Matthew would have heard about—or even heard firsthand—Jesus’ preaching in the area of Capernaum.
  • He left his career as a tax collector and became one of Christ’s twelve, trusted “inner circle” disciples. He is named in every list of disciples as such.
  • He is generally believed to be the author of the Gospel of Matthew included the New Testament. Scholars theorize that he wrote this gospel sometime between 60 and 90 A.D., and that he used at least three sources (including the Gospel of Mark) to compile his account of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. In fact, about 95% of the Gospel of Mark is included in some form in the Gospel of Matthew.
  • Matthew preserved for history the best, and most complete record of Jesus’ teachings on various subjects, including the now-famous compilation of Christ’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount and a collection of Jesus’ kingdom parables.
  • Tradition tells us that, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Matthew preached as a missionary in Ethiopia and that he was martyred there, killed by either an axe or a sword.


Works Cited:

[WWB, 306-308; DOS, 394-395; AMB, 232; JOB, 134]



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