Matthew is the author of the first of the four gospels. Born Levi, son of Alphaeus, Matthew was most likely Jewish and most likely knew Jewish doctrine and scripture very well. He encountered Jesus after the Savior had healed a man with palsy and had taught a group of people at the seaside. As the Savior passed by the tax collector, who was sitting at the seat of custom, He invited the man to follow Him. Matthew promptly arose and followed Jesus. Soon after this moment, which was Matthew’s call to the ministry, Matthew gave a dinner to which the Savior was invited. Matthew was criticized was criticized because the feast included sinners and publicans, as well as the apostles. Jesus pointed out that it is the sinners who need Him the most, not those who are already righteous.
Matthew, with the other disciples, were sent out to minister to the Jewish people, but not yet to the Gentiles or Samarians. They were instructed to travel without purse or scrip, depending on God to take care of them.
Matthew was one of the disciples who gathered in the upper room after the ascension of Jesus Christ. His gospel was written for a Jewish audience in Palestine and was focused on helping them recognize Jesus Christ as the promised Savior. He quoted the Jewish scriptures often and recognized the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the Savior’s ministry. He most likely wrote it in Aramaic, although it has come to us through Greek translations.
There is little evidence of Matthew’s later life, although there is a tradition that he died as a martyr.