According to the Bible, Matthew was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. He was the son of Alpheusa and a 1st-century Galilean. He was also called Levi by Luke and Mark (Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27). This apostle authored the gospel of Matthew which was one of the four gospels narrating the life of Jesus Christ. Most scholars believe it was composed between AD 80 and 90. This gospel was the longest among the four and possibly the first to be recorded. The gospel was written for a community of Greek-speaking Jewish Christians located probably in Syria.
Before he became a disciple of Christ, Matthew was a publican (Mat. 9:9 ; 10:3) and a tax collector in the town of Capernaum (Matthew 9:9; 10:3). At that time, the Jews despised him for working with the Roman occupation to collect taxes from their own people—often dishonestly by getting more than what was required (Luke 19:8).
While sitting at the “receipt of custom” in his town, Jesus called him to be His disciple. Matthew immediately accepted the invitation, left his position, and followed the Lord (Mat. 9:9). He left behind his riches and comfort to a life of service and eventual martyrdom.
Matthew invited Jesus home for “a great banquet” with “a large crowd” in attendance (Luke 5:29). When, the Scribes and the Pharisees saw that Jesus went to Mathew’s home, they criticized Him for eating with tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 9:10–11). But Jesus’ answered them saying: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick . . . I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mat. 9:12–13; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32).
Being a tax collector before his call to discipleship, this faithful disciples was presumably used to keeping written records, a qualification certainly was of great value to the composer of historical accounts.
Matthew followed Jesus as a faithful disciple and was one of the witnesses of the Resurrection, the upper room experience (Acts 1:10–14), and later the Ascension of Jesus. Church fathers such as Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria claim that he preached the Gospel to the Jews in Judea, before going to other nations.
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In His service,