Matthew in the Bible

Thursday, September 17th, 2020

He was considered to be an enemy to his own people, a traitor. He was a Jew who served the Roman Empire as a tax collector. He not only enforced the heavy taxation, but, as was the tradition, took a little extra for himself. His name was Levi.

Fr. Ashley Harrington, O.Carm.

One day he encountered Jesus. Jesus called him to discipleship. He left his counting table and followed the Lord. He became known as Matthew, an Apostle of Jesus.

Matthew, the Apostle, has been traditionally identified as being also Matthew the Evangelist. Many modern scholars have concluded that the author of Gospel was a different person. So we have a mystery—are there two Matthews? If so, be assured that both were magnificent Christians.

Matthew the Gospel writer would leave to the world a great treasure—the Gospel of Jesus Christ According to Matthew. This Gospel shows how the Old Testament foreshadowed Jesus through Abraham, Moses, and David. It presents us with a record of five great discourses given by Jesus. Most brilliant is the account of the Sermon on the Mount. The Beatitudes would be exquisitely proclaimed. Twenty-four parables of Jesus are also recorded in Matthew of which eleven are unique to this Gospel.

Matthew’s account of the passion and death of Jesus is moving. He portrays Jesus as the Suffering Servant prophesied by Isaiah. The Gospel portrays the death and resurrection of Jesus as the beginning of a new stage of history leading to the final coming of Jesus and coming of the kingdom of God.

In the Contarelli Chapel of the Roman Church San Luigi dei Francesi there are three paintings of Saint Matthew. Cardinal Francesco Del Monte commissioned the 17th century artist Caravaggio to create these masterpieces. The paintings depict Jesus calling Matthew, known as the tax collector Levi, the inspiration of Matthew to write the Gospel, and finally the death of Matthew. The most famous of these paintings is The Calling of Matthew. Jesus and Peter enter from the right of the painting. Light follows Jesus’ pointing hand to one of the tax collectors counting money.   The man in the middle is either pointing to himself in shock or pointing to the young man at the end of the table who is oblivious to Jesus. Which one is Matthew?

The Calling of Saint Matthew by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio


The Gospel of Matthew is cleverly summarized in animation by a group called The Bible Project. There are two parts to the presentation, each about eight minutes in length. They are worth viewing. In your search engine type in youtube bible project Matthew.

Another group known as Spoken Gospel has created a wonderful video explaining how Matthew discovers Jesus, a treasure hidden in plain sight in the Old Testament. In your search engine type youtube Spoken Gospel Matthew.

Information and recommendations provided by Fr. Ashley Harrington.

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