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Catholic Dictionary




One of the Twelve Apostles and author of the first Gospel. He was a tax collector for the Roman government. Mark and Luke reported that Matthew (also known as Levi) was carrying on his work in the customhouse when Jesus called him to join the band of disciples, and Matthew promptly obeyed (Mark 2:14). Later, when he entertained Jesus and his followers at a reception in his home, it was evident how strongly the Jews resented and despised tax collectors (Luke 5:27-32). Nothing can be learned about his personal life from his writings, because he never spoke about himself in his Gospel. His purpose was to convince Christians of Jewish origin that Jesus was the Messiah and fulfilled the promises of the prophets. It is not surprising, therefore, that Matthew cites the Old Testament more frequently than either Mark or Luke. (Etym. Greek mathhaios or matthaios; from Aramaic mattai, a shorter form of Hebrew mattanyah, a gift of Yahweh.)