St. Matthew is an important figure in the Bible who went from being a despised tax collector to being an apostle of Jesus. Matthew was present at several of the most important events in Jesus' life. He wrote the Gospel of Matthew to tell about Jesus' life and his understanding of who Jesus was.
St. Matthew is best known as one of Jesus' twelve apostles and the author of the first book of the New Testament. In the Gospel of Mark and Luke he is known by the name of Levi. Jesus probably gave him the name "Matthew," which means "Gift of Yahweh," when he called him to be an apostle. Matthew was a Jew from Galilee, and his father's name was Alpheus. He was a tax collector, which made him very unpopular and an outcast in Bible times.
St. Matthew was one of Jesus' 12 apostles. When Jesus called Matthew to be an apostle, the Pharisees were unhappy because they thought they were more righteous than Matthew. Jesus said to the Pharisees, "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance" (Matthew 9:13 NKJV).
St. Matthew accompanied Jesus from the time he called him until Jesus was crucified. He saw Jesus after he was resurrected from the dead, he witnessed Jesus' ascension into heaven and he prayed with some of the other followers of Jesus in the upper room after the ascension.
St. Matthew is known for writing the first Gospel. He probably wrote it between the years A.D. 50 and 100. Matthew wrote his Gospel particularly for the Jews. He wanted to tell the story of Jesus' life and how Jesus was the King of the Jews.
St. Matthew may have gone to Ethiopia, Persia, Macedonia or Syria to preach later in his life.
No one really knows exactly when or how Matthew died. It is also not known whether he died naturally or whether he was a martyr. People who believe he died as a martyr think he was killed by being stoned to death, burnt or beheaded.
Some churches celebrate St. Matthew's life on either September 21 or November 16. In Christian art, St. Matthew is sometimes symbolised by a winged man, carrying a lance.
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