An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

According to Mark, he was the son of Alphaeus. He was a Jewish tax collector working for the Roman government at Capernaum. Matthew is called Levi in the accounts of his call to discipleship in Mark and Luke, but he is always referred to as Matthew in the lists of the apostles. It is possible that Levi was his original name and that Matthew, which means “gift from God,” was given to him after he became a disciple. Since the second century the authorship of the first gospel has been attributed to St. Matthew, but it is considered unlikely by most scholars that the present Gospel of Matthew was written by a Galilean tax collector. In Christian art he is pictured at a desk writing his gospel, as a winged man in his role as an evangelist, and sometimes with a spear, the legendary instrument of his death. We know nothing about his death, but he is venerated as a martyr. Matthew is commemorated in the Episcopal calendar of the church year on Sept. 21.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.