I believe it was none other than Matthew (also called Levi) the tax collector who became one of Jesus’ twelve apostles. His call to follow Jesus is given to us in Mark 2:14, “As He (Jesus) passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, ‘Follow Me,” So he arose and followed Him.” His call to his apostleship is recorded in Matthew 10:1-2, 4: “And when He (Jesus) called His twelve disciples to Him, he gave them power over uncleans spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. Now the names of the TWELVE APOSTLES are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter…..and MATTHEW THE TAX COLLECTOR.”

We do well to ask, “Why was Matthew also chosen to write the first gospel?” I believe each gospel writer was well-fitted to author the gospel bearing their name. Matthew was a Jew who had a special knowledge of the Old Testament and was intimately acquainted with all the prophecies concerning the coming of Israel’s Messiah. He was thus especially qualified to write about Jesus as THE KING OF THE JEWS; that was his THEME throughout the gospel. In 2nd Samuel 7:12-13 God promised King David that he would one day have a son who would be Israel’s Messiah and that his throne would be forever. “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” Based on this promise and Matthew’s theme, he begins his gospel with these words, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the SON OF DAVID, the Son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). In order to prove that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, the Son of David, Matthew traces his roots back to David (in verses 6-16) to show his Jewish brethren that He came from the “Royal Line” and was thus qualified to be “the King of the Jews.”

Matthew’s knowledge of the Aramaic language was also important (which he had to have when he worked for the Roman government as a tax collector in Palestine), for initially his gospel was written in Aramaic for his “Jewish audience” (the language of the Jewish people at that time) and sometime later it was translated into Greek for a “universal audience.” If you consider this fact, along with his general theme of Jesus being the “King of the Jews,” one can easily see why many have called this “the Jewish Gospel.” Matthew quotes Old Testament scriptures concerning Israel’s Messiah more than any of the other gospel writers, scriptures that clearly prove that Jesus was the fulfillment of all those prophecies. In all of Matthew’s accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry, they all serve to focus on these fulfillments. In Matthew 8:16 we have one of many examples, “When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And he cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.’” 

Why didn’t Matthew reveal that he was the author this gospel that bears his name? We might ask this of the other gospel writers as well, for none of them did so. I believe they all wanted to magnify Christ alone and thus each book begins with facts about Christ that became the theme of each writer. (Matthew begins with Christ as King; Mark begins with Christ as the Perfect Servant; Luke begins with Christ as the Perfect Man; and John begins with Christ as the eternal Word and Son of God.) Each gospel writer was content to remain hidden as it were, yet they are privileged to be referred to as “holy men” in 2nd Peter 1:21, “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” I might add that this verse also reveals the TRUE AUTHOR of every book in the Bible, God “the Holy Spirit.”  (430.5)  (DO)