Matthew (Disciple) by Katelyn Schnoor ; John Van Maaren

In all three Synoptic Gospels, Jesus calls a tax collector to be a disciple. Mark and Luke call the tax collector Levi, but he is called Matthew in the Gospel of Matthew. In the second century, the Apostle Matthew was identified with the Evangelist Matthew.

How does Matthew relate to Levi, the tax collector called by Jesus?

Matthew is included in all four canonical lists of the twelve apostles (Matt 10:3, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:15, Acts 1:13). He is also traditionally identified with Levi, a tax collector whom Jesus calls and dines with in Mark 2:13-17 and Luke 5:27-32. In the Gospel of Matthew, this tax collector is named Matthew (Matt 9:9-13), and the list of twelve apostles specifies that Matthew was a tax collector (Matt 10:3). The writer of the Gospel of Matthew might have been claiming that Matthew and Levi were the same historical person, or the author might have conflated two different persons (whether intentionally or by mistake). Since dual naming was common in Roman Palestine and since Matthew was a common name there, it is at least conceivable that an individual could be called both Levi and Matthew.

If Matthew is to be identified with Levi, there is some irony insofar as Matthew was the name of the ancestral hero Mattathias, who liberated the Jewish people from foreign oppression (1Macc 2:1-14), while Levi was the patriarch whose descendants were set apart for temple service (Num 8:5-26); by contrast, the gospels’ Levi Matthew would have been collaborating with the oppressive, polytheistic Roman Empire.

What is Matthew’s significance in the Gospel of Matthew?

In the Gospel of Matthew, the unique character of Matthew is both an apostle and a (former) tax collector. Matthew’s tax collectors, grouped with sinners (Matt 9:11), prostitutes (Matt 21:31, Matt 21:32), and gentiles (Matt 18:17), are common examples of those with wrong motives and behavior (Matt 5:46; Matt 18:17). Apparently disliked by the Pharisees (Matt 9:11), tax collectors are nonetheless friends and dinner companions of Jesus (Matt 9:10; Matt 11:19). Like sick persons in need of a physician, tax collectors and sinners need Jesus’s healing (Matt 9:12-13). In contrast, the disciples/apostles receive authority, like Jesus, to heal (Matt 10:1-6) and are destined to judge Israel from twelve thrones (Matt 19:28). Besides Judas the betrayer (Matt 10:4), Matthew is the only member of the twelve linked with sinners through his role as tax collector. His inclusion among the twelve indicates that, for the Gospel of Matthew, sinners can not only be healed (forgiven), but can also become close followers of Jesus responsible for healing others and eventually judging in the future kingdom.

Katelyn Schnoor , John Van Maaren , "Matthew (Disciple)", n.p. [cited 27 Jun 2022]. Online: https://www.bibleodyssey.org:443/en/people/related-articles/matthew-disciple

Contributors

Schnoor-Katelyn

Katelyn Schnoor
Student, Catholic University of America

Katelyn Schnoor graduated from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, with a Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Religious Studies, as well as a Certificate in Pastoral Ministry. Her coursework emphasized studies of the Synoptic Gospels, bioethics, and ministering to young people. She hopes to continue her studies in pastoral ministry.

Van Maaren -John

John Van Maaren
Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow , Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg

John Van Maaren is an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow at the Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg. He wrote his dissertation, “The Gospel of Mark within Judaism: Reading the Second Gospel in Its Ethnic Landscape,” in the Department of Religious Studies at McMaster University. He was previously the Assistant Director of Academic Support, Grants and Fellowships, at the Catholic University of America, Washington, DC (2019-2021).

Belonging to the canon of a particular group; texts accepted as a source of authority.

A broad, diverse group of nations ruled by the government of a single nation.

A gospel is an account that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

Another name often used for the area of Israel and Judah, derived from the Latin term for the Roman province of Palaestina; ultimately, the name derives from the name of the Philistine people.

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, which share similar literary content.

Matt 10:3

3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;

Mark 3:18

18and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean,

Luke 6:15

15and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot,

Acts 1:13

13When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew ... View more

Mark 2:13-17

13 Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. 14 As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting ... View more

Luke 5:27-32

27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And he got up, left everything, and ... View more

Matt 9:9-13

9 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.
10 And as h ... View more

Matt 10:3

3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;

1Macc 2:1-14

2 In those days Mattathias son of John son of Simeon, a priest of the family of Joarib, moved from Jerusalem and settled in Modein. 2 He had five sons, John sur ... View more

Num 8:5-26

5 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 6 Take the Levites from among the Israelites and cleanse them. 7 Thus you shall do to them, to cleanse them: sprinkle the wat ... View more

Matt 9:11

11When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

Matt 21:31

31Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going ... View more

Matt 21:32

32For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw ... View more

Matt 18:17

17If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentil ... View more

Matt 5:46

46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

Matt 18:17

17If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentil ... View more

Matt 9:11

11When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

Matt 9:10

10 And as he sat at dinner[a] in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting[b] with him and his disciples.

Matt 11:19

19the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by h ... View more

Matt 9:12-13

12 But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, n ... View more

Matt 10:1-6

10 Then Jesus[a] summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2 T ... View more

Matt 19:28

28Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will a ... View more

Matt 10:4

4Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

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