And as he passed by
As he went from Simon's house, and from the city of Capernaum, to go to the sea side: he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus;
the same with Matthew, ( Matthew 9:9 ) , and son to the same Alphaeus as James was, ( Matthew 10:3 ) , Beza's most ancient copy reads "James", instead of "Levi", very wrongly; but he was the brother of James, and also of Simon and Jude; so that there were four brothers of them apostles: and if Joses, called Barsabas, was the same Joses that was brother to these, as seems probable, a fifth was put up for an apostle, though the lot fell on Matthias. James, and Joses, and Simon, and Jude, are mentioned together, ( Matthew 13:55 ) , because they lived together, and were men of religion and seriousness, and known by their neighbours; but Matthew, or Levi, is not mentioned: it is thought, by some, probable, that he was a loose, extravagant young man, and so might depart from his father's family, and enter into this scandalous employment of a publican; and herein went contrary to his father's will, Cleophas, or Alphaeus, who was the husband of the sister of Mary, the mother of our Lord:
sitting at the receipt of custom;
the toll booth, or custom house, where he sat to take toll of passengers that came, or went in ships or boats, The Syriac version renders it, "sitting among the toll gatherers"; and the Persic, "among publicans"; not only signifying the business in which he was, but the company he was among; which makes the grace of Christ the more illustrious and distinguishing, in looking upon him, and calling him:
and said unto him, follow me; and he arose, and followed him.
Christ, the great shepherd of the sheep, who came to seek, in order to save that which was lost, was now locking up his lost sheep; and Matthew, or Levi, being one of them, he finds him, and calls him by his grace. Christ is always first with his people; he first seeks them, and then they seek him; he first finds them, and then they find him; yea, he is found of them that sought him not. Levi took no notice of him, inquired not about him, and had no thought of leaving his employ; and going after him, but Christ knew him: his eye was upon him as he passed by him, and his time was a time of love, and so a time of life; he looked upon him, and said unto him, live; quickening power went along with his words, and he arose, and left all, and followed him: Christ, as the good shepherd, went before; and Levi, through the grace that was now given him, as one of his sheep, heard and knew his voice, and, without the least hesitation or reluctance, quitted his business, and became a follower of him. How powerful is efficacious grace! what is it, it can not do! it turns the heart of a sinner at once, inclines it to Christ, and causes it to leave all for his sake; it at once fills the soul with love to Christ, faith in him, and obedience to him; it works powerfully, and yet freely; it always obtains, and effects what it designs, yet puts no force upon the will: Levi, under the drawings of divine grace, followed Christ most willingly and cheerfully; (See Gill on Matthew 9:9).