10 But you have followed alongside me in the teaching, the way of life, in the purpose in the faith, the long suffering, in the love, in steadfastness.
The Author cont.
We know that Matthew was one of the disciples of Jesus, and that he was also called Levi. His father was Alpheus. His occupation was a tax collector, therefore, he worked for the Romans. Tax collectors did not have a good reputation, because they were renowned for making money for themselves by charging people more tax than they really owed. Also the fact that they worked for the occupying Roman forces made them objects of Jewish enmity.
In the gospels tax-collectors are often associated with sinners:
And seeing Him eating with wicked men and tax collectors, the scribes and Pharisees said to His disciples: “Why is He eating with tax collectors and wicked people?” – Mark 2.16.
In the eyes of most people Matthew would not have been a likely candidate to become a disciple of Jesus.
However, Jesus looks at people in a completely different way. He saw the heart of Matthew, and not the outward appearance, much the same as happened in the appointing and anointing of David as King:
“The LORD doesn’t make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at a person’s thoughts and intentions” – 1 Samuel 16.7 (NLT).
Jesus knew the heart of Matthew; He knew that he could be changed from a man of extortion into a man of the gospel of God’s limitless grace. Jesus could see that Matthew could fulfil the meaning of his name, which is ‘the gift of Jehovah’.
It is also interesting to note that the meaning of the name ‘Levi’ is ‘joined’.
Up to the point when Jesus called him, Levi (Matthew) may have been joined to the Romans, but from the moment Jesus called him he was to be forever joined to Jesus.
Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria state that after the Day of Pentecost Matthew preached the gospel in Judea, and then went on to preach Jesus in other countries, this may have been Persia, Ethiopia, and Macedonia.
There is no conclusive evidence as to how Matthew died. It is generally thought that he was killed in Ethiopia by being stabbed. It is also suggested that he was not killed, but that he died in old age.