Matthew, son of Alphaeus, was one of the original twelve apostles (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13). Before becoming a follower of Jesus, Matthew was a tax collector in Capernaum (Matthew 9:9). He also went by the name Levi (Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27). According to early traditions, Matthew continued in ministry until he died as a martyr.
Although the writer of the Gospel of Matthew never specifically identifies himself, the earliest Church Fathers unanimously attest to Matthew as its author. This book is one of the three Synoptic Gospels, along with Mark and Luke. Although each of these three books is unique in its character and purpose, they also bear many similarities and even some duplicate parts. This indicates that they either borrowed from a common source (oral or written) or from each other. Matthew likely wrote his Gospel shortly after the Council of Jerusalem in 50 AD, although those who assume that Matthew used Mark as a source date it as late as the 70’s.
Since Matthew makes more Old Testament references than any other New Testament author and tends not to explain Jewish customs, this book seems to be directed more toward Jewish readers. However, Matthew also emphasizes the inclusion of Gentiles. He is the only Gospel writer to record the visit of the Magi after the birth of Jesus (Matthew 2), and he ends the book with the Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19). He also emphasizes God’s presence in Christ. As he records the Incarnation, he refers to Jesus as “Immanuel,” meaning, “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). He concludes the book with the promise of Jesus, “Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).