St. Apostle and Evangelist Matthew. Orthros and Divine Liturgy.
St Matthew (meaning “gift of God”) was identified as a tax collector (Matthew 9:9; 10:3) and was of Jewish race. In the other accounts of his meeting with Jesus (Mark 2:13, 14; Luke 5:27-29), he is called Levi. This use of two different names has led some scholars to argue for two different persons, due to the absence of Levi from the apostolic lists. Others, however, have argued that Matthew had a double name, because the Jews frequently carried two names – such as Simon/Peter and Saul/Paul. When he was called by Jesus (Matthew 9:9), Matthew renounced the position of tax collector and became His disciple. According to Christian tradition, after Pentecost Matthew, filled with the Holy Spirit, preached the gospel in many places, especially to the Jews.
The Gospel of Matthew, though it has come down to us in Greek, has a Jewish/Hebraic flavour, which is evident in its Aramaic expressions and forms, and its use of numerous quotations and arguments from the Old Testament. Furthermore, Matthew gives details of Jewish religious observations, and often uses Jewish style and techniques of argument. God’s final judgement, pictured in apocalyptic images common in Jewish writings, is also emphasized. Papias, a second-century Christian author, preserves the tradition that Matthew wrote the sayings of Christ in Aramaic, the common language of the Jews at the time of Christ, and that others later freely translated this work into Greek.
Though the Gospel does not name Matthew as the author, all the early manuscripts attribute authorship to Matthew, one of the twelve disciples listed in the New Testament. His authorship is attested by the universal witness of the ancient Church.Matthew’s usual emblem as an evangelist is a man, because his genealogy emphasized the family ties of Christ.
Dismissal Hymn (Third Tone)
O Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.
Kontakion (Fourth Tone)
When you cast away the publican’s balance and was united to the yoke of uprightness, you prove a merchant of great excellence, one that gathered in the wealth of the wisdom of Heaven; for this cause, the word of truth you did herald, O Matthew, and you aroused the souls of sluggish men by signifying the dread day of reckoning.
The Holy Evangelists and their symbols
The holy Tradition associated each of the four Evangelists with a symbol. Thus, the Saint Evangelist Matthew is depicted with a man (angel), the Saint Evangelist Mark is painted with a lion, the Saint Evangelist Luke is depicted with a calf, and the Saint Evangelist John is accompanied by an eagle.
The symbols of the four evangelists are painted with horns and wings, inspired by the Book of Revelation: "The first living creature was like a lion, the second like a calf, the third had a face like a man, and the fourth was like an eagle in flight."(Revelation 4: 7) and Ezekiel's prophecy:" As for the form of their faces, each had the face of a man; all four had the face of a lion on the right and the face of a bull on the left, and all four had the face of an eagle."(Ezekiel 1: 10).
The man was chosen as a symbol of the Saint Evangelist Matthew, because he begins his Gospel with the genealogy of the ancestors of Jesus Christ.
The Lion was chosen as a symbol of St. Mark the Evangelist, because he speaks to us at the beginning of his Gospel about St. John the Baptist as the "Voice of the one who shouts in the wilderness" (Mark 1, 3), which reminds us of the lion's rage.
The calf was chosen as a symbol of Saint Evangelist Luke, because he is the only Evangelist who speaks of the "fatted calf" which, according to the parable of the prodigal son, is sacrificed at the welcoming feast.
The eagle was chosen as a symbol of St. John the Evangelist, because, due to his elevated theological experience, he ascended like an eagle in his description of the Divine Logos and the way in which he highlights the Divine Love above all else in the world, affirming that God is Love (John 4: 8).