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The Gospel according to Matthew is first in the order of the New Testament.
At its content does not indicate who is the author, so have questioned if the apostle Matthew wrote it. Who was Matthew? According with the written in Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18, and Luke 6:15, Matthew was one of the 12 disciples of the Lord.
Etymologically, his name it was originated in the Greek “Mathaios” and this from Aramaic “Mattay”, a short form of the Hebrew “Matanyah”, meaning “gift from God”.
Matthew before be disciple of Christ was a publican, a tax-collector for Rome: “And as Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax-office. And He said to him, Follow Me! And he arose and followed Him” (Matthew 9:9).
He else called Levi: “And as He passed on, He saw Levi the son of Alpheus sitting at the tax-office. And He said to him, Follow Me. And he arose and followed Him” (Mark 2:14); “And after these things He went out and saw a tax-collector named Levi, sitting at the tax-office. And He said to him, Follow Me” (Lucas 5:27).
How can we confirm that Matthew was the writer of the Gospel with his name? There are some ways to establish that he was:
1. As we saw, Mark 2:14 and Luke 5:27 say that the name of who was sited at the tax-office was Levi, while in Matthew 9:9 says that his name was Matthew, texts relating the same event. The name subsequent was confirmed by Mark and Luke, because when they include him between the 12 disciples did not write Levi but Matthew. This means that the writer of the Gospel leaved evidence of his name in his book.
2. In the same event, in Mark 2:15 we read: “And it happened as Jesus reclined in his house, many tax-collectors and sinners also reclined with Jesus and His disciples. For there were many, and they followed Him.” In Luke 5:29 we read: “And Levi made a great feast in his own house for Him. And there was a great company of tax-collectors and of others who were reclining with them.” Note that Mark wrote that Jesus reclined in his house (of Levi) but Luke wrote that Levi made a great feast in his own house. At contrary, Matthew wrote: “And it happened as Jesus reclined in the house, behold, many tax-collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Him and His disciples” (Matthew 9:10). Note that Matthew simply wrote that Jesus reclined in the house, as something more familiar, because it was his own house, the one of Matthew the publican.
3. When the names of the disciples of the Lord were mentioned, Mark and Luke identified to Levi simply as Matthew, while he identified himself as “Matthew the publican”, to leave evidence of his ancient job.
Regarding the date that Matthew wrote the Gospel is difficult to establish it exactly. However, Matthew seems suggest that some time was passed when he included the expressions “to this day” and “until today”: “Therefore that field was called, The Field of Blood, to this day” (Matthew 27:8); “And taking the silver, they did as they were taught. And this saying was spread among the Jews until today” (Matthew 28:15).
However, considering that Matthew gave enough emphasis to the destruction that Jesus announced that it would come on Jerusalem, the Gospel of Matthew often dated after the year 70 when Jerusalem was invaded by the Roman general Titus. According with Eusebius of Caesarea, he preached during fifteen years in Palestine, where he wrote his Gospel around the year 80.
What opinion had the Jewish people about Matthew? In the ancient Rome, the publicans were tax-collectors for the republic. They abused of their authority, so were hated because they collected more than the authorized by the law, and faced them, the people had not defense. Moreover, they were hated because collected more to their people for the benefit of the invaders. The publicans had the monopoly of the money and economic power, as the rent of the land, the income of the loans, the trade profits in the whole Roman territory, and the income of the treasury. Some publican had immense capitals, even more than the senators. After, all renting of State remained in hands exclusively of the publican associations. These associations organized various alliances for each business line and tended to exercise a monopoly of the product and setting its price.
The publicans were not even worthy as to sit down to eat with them. Thus, Matthew was a Jew with a discredited reputation. However, faced the call of Jesus Christ, he leaved everything and became a propagator of the gospel. What motivation had Matthew to abandon his sinful life and become a faithful follow of the Lord? There are not clear evidences in the Bible, but it is evident that He became an apostle of Jesus Christ.
How have your life been, dear reader? If you are living in obedience to God’s will, being a faithful believer of Jesus Christ, there is hope of eternal life to you. But if you have not yet received to Christ in your life, you can change, your precedents are not important, because God will forgive all your sins and also there will be hope to your life.
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13 KJV).
“The Lord is not slow concerning His promise, as some count slowness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any of us should perish, but that all of us should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).