Thursday, August 8, 2013

Whatever Happened to the Apostle Matthew? by Chris White

Matthew is an enigmatic figure in the New Testament.  We know much about what he did but virtually nothing of his person.  He was the brother of another Apostle (James the Less) and was called while working as a tax collector in Capernaum.  In movies of the Gospels, the conversion of Matthew is portrayed as a sudden experience from a chance encounter with the Lord.  However, as a tax collector, he would have been well-known to Peter, Andrew, James, and John and probably Jesus since Capernaum was his home base.  As a tax-collector, Matthew would have had few friends in town.  This job was sold by the Roman government to the highest bidder who in turn would repay his investment by charging more taxes than necessary.  This made others consider him an outcast from Jewish society and a traitor to their nation (much like an IRS auditor is in our society).  But the Lord is the friend and champion of sinners and outcasts and it only stands to reason he should have someone like this in his apostolic band.  Writing late in the 1st Century, Clement of Rome tells of him spending 15 years evangelizing expatriate Jews living in Syria, Macedonia, Persia, and Egypt.  There are two traditions concerning his death.  One suggests that he was beheaded in Egypt during a persecution while the other maintains he died of natural causes.

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