Matthew, also called Levi, was the son of Alphaeus and brother of James The Less (or Younger) another of the 12 Disciples. It’s unknown if he or Jesus changed his name from Levi to Matthew but his new name was a shortening of the name Mattathias, which means “gift of Yahweh,” or simply “the gift of God. Presumably born in Galilee, Matthew was working in Capernaum on behalf of the Roman Empire before the call to follow Jesus came.
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. Matthew 9:9
Matthew was a Tax Collector…more specifically a Customs Official. He sat in a booth collecting duties on imported goods being brought to Capernaum by farmers, merchants and caravans.
“Capernaum was one of those cities where they had established a customs for those coming from the area of the north down through the valley and in the Golan and around the Sea of Galilee, catching them there as they were bringing their goods and charging custom.” Pastor and Author Chuck Smith.
As a follower of Jesus I have read the Gospel told by 4 men in the 1st century. I’ve study the gospel accounts, written about them and quoted them to friends. I’ve used them in teachings with men young and old and even as recently as yesterday found passages I had completely missed or glossed over. This is not unique to me though. Few Christians can honestly say they have never been presented with a scripture they couldn’t remember reading. So that is not why I am writing on this topic. Actually I wanted to write about something that, for several years in my early walk, had confused me. I had read the Gospel According to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, however the confusion would come when I read about the 12 Disciples. Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. Where were Mark and Luke? My problem was that I had mistakenly assumed that Mark and Luke were a part of the 12. As I began to understand that the Gospel was recorded by only 2 of Jesus’ original 12 and by 2 other figures in the 1st century, I began to wonder who these guys were. It’s my hope that through this blog I will be able to not only fully understand who the Gospel Writers were but also pass this discovery onto others who may find they too have been a little confused. So with that there are a few things I want to look at in this study.
Who were the Gospel Writers?
- Who were they before Jesus?
- What did they record?
- What was their viewpoint?
- What happened to them?
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John…we know their names, we have read their telling of the Gospel, but who were they?
We’ll start, naturally, with Matthew.