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Commentary from 




Rivingtons, London, 1884


[September 21.]

The festival of this Apostle has Gospel and Epistle appointed for it in the Comes of St. Jerome, but it does not seem to have been celebrated in September; and in the Oriental Church it is still observed on November 16th.  In his double capacity of Apostle and Evangelist, the first who was inspired to write the Holy Gospel, and who tells us more than all of our Lord's human life, his name has ever been much honoured in the Church.  Of the four "living creatures" by whom the Apocalypse is believed to symbolize the Evangelists or their Gospels, the "likeness of a man" is the one assigned to St. Matthew, as significant of the prominence which his Gospel gives to our Lord's human nature.


This holy Apostle and Evangelist is first mentioned in his own Gospel and by the other Evangelists as a Roman toll-gatherer, though he himself was a Jew.  His office was to collect tolls and customs from those who passed over the sea of Galilee, and it appears to have been near Capernaum that he was engaged in this duty when he heard the words of Jesus, "Follow Me."  [Matt. ix. 9.]  As the sons of Zebedee had left their ships, their nets, and their occupation, to obey those words, so did St. Matthew give up his profitable employment to do the bidding of Him Who had "not where to lay His head:" and, as it seems to have been immediately afterwards that our Lord made him one of His Apostles, the forsaking of all that he had must have been as final as it was sudden, shewing how entirely obedient he became to his Lord.  After the dispersion of the Apostles St. Matthew took part in the evangelization of Chaldaea, and gave up his life to his Master's service by martyrdom at Nadabar.  His Gospel is supposed to have been written by him originally in Hebrew for the Jewish Christians, but the Hebrew version appears to have been soon superseded by one in Greek, which was doubtless the work of the Evangelist himself, for it has always been received into the Canon of Holy Scripture.  A copy of the Hebrew text is said to have been found in the grave of St. Barnabas A.D. 485, but it is not now extant.