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  • 0:04 Matthew
  • 0:44 Life of Matthew
  • 1:54 Matthew's Ministry
  • 3:35 Lesson Summary
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Matthew the Apostle: History, Facts & Death

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These four authors are known around the world. In this lesson, we're going to explore the accounts and life of Matthew, and see how he came to play a role in a major moment of world history.

Matthew

The Christian Bible is full of letters explaining the proper ways to follow the teachings of Christ, but only four accounts of Christ's life and death. Those four books are called the Gospels. Of the four Gospels, two were written by members of Christ's original twelve disciples. One of these is the Book of Matthew.

The Book of Matthew is generally believed to have been authored by, yes, Matthew, a disciple, apostle and evangelist of the early Christian Church. Today, he is recognized as one of the premier saints of Catholicism as well. Matthew was a founder of the largest religion in the world today, so let's get to know this ancient figure a little better.

Life of Matthew

We don't know anything about Matthew's life before he became a disciple (student) of Jesus Christ, except that his father's name was Alphaeus and that his original name was possibly Levi. From the Gospels, it seems that a few of the original disciples underwent a name change after joining Jesus (remember that Simon becomes Peter). In the same way, Levi becomes Matthew, derived from the Hebrew for ''Gift of Yahweh''.

Matthew is an interesting figure to theologians and historians because he was not a beloved person. In fact, he was likely hated…passionately. You see, Matthew was a publican. At the surface, this translates to tax collector (which alone may give people enough reason to hate him), but don't forget who the Hebrew people were paying taxes to. The Hebrews lived under the control of the Roman Empire. So, Matthew wasn't just a tax collector, he was a Jewish agent of the Romans.

Hebrews of the time deeply distrusted any of their own who worked to maintain the Roman Empire, and most were seen as greedy, selfish, and traitorous. In fact, there are accounts that Hebrews did not allow Jewish publicans to marry Jewish women or even worship in the synagogue.

Matthew's Ministry

For Matthew, this changed when Jesus crossed his path and said ''Follow me''. That's it. According to his gospel, Matthew heard these words and dropped everything. He paid back all those he had cheated, renounced his worldly possessions and committed himself to following his new teacher. This did cause many of the Jewish leaders to raise their eyebrows. They were already suspicious of Jesus, but now he was consorting with the lowest of Hebrew society.

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