MATTHEW THE APOSTLE
Matthew, who was born a Jew is the same person as Levi, son of Alphaeus. Matthew's name means 'the gift of Yahweh'. James, son of Alphaeus is also listed among the Apostles making Matthew and James brothers.
Matthew's occupation was a tax collector and his toll booth was located at the end of the main highway that came from Damascus, through the Jordan Valley to Capernaum beside the lake, and continued onto Egypt.
Matthew would have been an employee of Herod Antipas. His duty was to collect toll payment and transport taxes from local merchants, farmers carrying their wares to market, and distant traders passing through Galilee. Being a publican tax collector he knew the value of goods which would have included wool, flax, linen, pottery, brass, silver, gold, barley, wheat, olives, figs, wheat, oil, wine, dye, grapes, pomegranates, medicinal herbs and nuts. He also knew the value of local and foreign monetary terms.
Matthew's profession needed him to speak Aramaic as well as the Greek language. Tariff Collectors who worked for the Roman Empire bid for the right to collect taxes and then exhort personal fortunes for themselves from the ordinary people and traders. Because Matthew leased his accumulation contract by paying an annual fee in advance, he was able to make great personal profit from charging excess of monetary terms on his fellow countrymen. It was because of this he was despised.
Also as a levy collector, Matthew acknowledged the Authority of Rome. His country-men looked upon him as being a willing tool of the oppressive Roman Empire. His profession for the Roman Empire meant that he could not serve as a witness, judge or have any legal office among his own people. Tax collectors were expelled from synagogues and they were classed as outcasts. In the eyes of the Jewish Traditionalist communities, the disgrace extended to their families also. The term 'sinners' applied to tax collectors.
Men like Matthew were scorned and were regarded as traitors. There were two types of classes in the Roman Taxation Agenda, a chief tax collector and an ordinary publican. Matthew was of the lower class of the collectors of revenue.
Because Jesus taught around Capernaum, Matthew would have seen or heard Jesus often. When Matthew promptly responded to Jesus' call and became a disciple of Jesus, he did not do so quietly, he held a banquet for Jesus to meet and teach his fellow tax collector friends. Matthew left his wealth and sinful occupation as an extorter to accept the values and principles of Christ. The power of mercy and forgiveness was demonstrated strongly in Matthew's life.
Matthew was an eyewitness to the events in Jesus' life. Levi was his given name and Matthew, his apostolic name. He had concern for his former colleagues and held a banquet at his home where Jesus was an honoured guest. Jesus shared a meal with Matthew and his friends. The Jewish Teachers, hypocritical and envious of Jesus and His followers came in conflict with Jesus fellowshipping with Matthew and his tax collector friends, for they believed God's grace extended to those who kept the Religious external Laws, but Matthew and his friends admitted they were sinners in need of salvation, they were not like the Teachers of The law, being pious Jews. When Jesus' disciples were sent out to teach they knew what to teach.
Matthew was one who was a willing learner of Jesus' teaching and sought to follow his Master's teaching and implementing His truth by passing it on to others. Jesus quickly silenced their enemies who called collaborators with Rome, for they had acknowledged Christ and accepted His truth and turned away from their old lifestyle to become disciples for The Kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew's talents being skilled at writing and keeping records, as well being a man of deep spiritual conviction, was useful to many, for he wrote The Gospel at the beginning of The New Testament which bears his name.
Matthew became one of the three original writing Apostles. Matthew's occupation as a tax collector qualified him to be the official recorder of the words and works of Jesus. Shorthand was widely known during the Roman period and no doubt Matthew used shorthand to preserve records of Jesus' teachings and activities.
Matthew wrote his gospel between 50 AD and 65 AD and presents Jesus as King of a Kingdom and the Royal Son of God. Matthew wrote the advents of Jesus to a Greek speaking audience. He was concerned with fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy to be a universal outlook to accept Jesus as The Messiah sent from God.
The writings of Matthew has always been given priority by The Body of Christ. His gospel explains to the people of a conquering king and the royal glory that is due to Jesus, the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies. For the first two centuries Matthew's recordings were the most frequently used, for it was an ideal bridge to link both Testaments.
Matthew's gospel of Jesus is the most complete record of what Jesus taught. He takes his readers back to recall the passages of the prophets who portrayed the King of the Jews as a humble rejected Messiah. Matthew also recorded Jesus' miracles and His compassionate nature. Matthew presented Jesus as The Son of God and wanted those who would read his recorded life of Christ to be aware that forgiveness of sin comes through the death of the divine Son of God.
Matthew also recorded the varying reactions and responses to Jesus' authority. His purpose was to make it clear that Jesus had the power to command His disciples to spread the news of redemption through Him, The Christ, throughout the world. Matthew emphasised Jesus' message of salvation is for all people. Matthew's account of Jesus' life was written before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD as he records happenings in and around the temple as well as Jesus' prophecy that the temple and city would come to ruin, through battle. The destruction of Jerusalem was in 70 AD.
Matthew desired that others understand that Jesus was the fulfilment of God's promises to Abraham, and to King David. Matthew knew that Jesus of Nazareth was The Messiah of Old Testament prophecy.
Matthew revealed that the Messianic Kingdom was not fully realised in Jesus' day, but its fulfilment awaits His return. Until then Jesus reigns and has full authority over all. Because royalty was an issue to the Jews regarding The Messiah, Matthew tracked Jesus' human lineage to Abraham through the Kingly lineage of David. Matthew included five women in the lineage of Christ.
Matthew eventually travelled to Ethiopia where he did become associated with Queen Candace, whose eunuch became a Christian while visiting Jerusalem during the Passover and Pentecost festivals. He apparently was martyred while evangelising throughout the country. Matthew affirmed he was a faithful disciple of The Gospel of Christ in many areas.
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