Matthew was born in First Century Judea. He was a Galilean and the son of Alpheus. During the Roman occupation, Matthew collected taxes from the Hebrew people for Herod Antipas. His Tax Office was located in Capharnaum. Jews who became rich in such a fashion, were despised and considered outcasts. However, as a tax collector he would have been literate in Aramaic (but probably not Greek or Latin).
It was in this setting, near what is today Almagor, that Jesus called Matthew to be one of the Twelve Disciples. After his call, Matthew invited the Lord home for a feast. On seeing this, the Scribes and the Pharisees criticized Jesus for eating with tax collectors and sinners. This prompted Jesus to answer, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners”
Matthew's ministry in the New Testament is likewise complex. When Matthew is mentioned he usually paired him with Thomas. As a disciple, he followed Christ, and was one of the witnesses of the Resurrection and the Ascension. Afterwards, Matthew along with Mary, James and other close followers of the Lord, withdrew to the Upper Chamber, in Jerusalem. At about this time James succeeded his brother Jesus of Nazareth as the leader of this small Jewish sect.
They remained in and about Jerusalem and proclaimed that Jesus son of Joseph was the promised Messiah. These early Jewish Christians were thought to have been called Nazerenes. It is near certain that Matthew belonged to this sect, as both the New Testament and the early Talmud affirm this to be true.
Matthew, for 15 years, preached the Gospel in Hebrew to the Jewish community in Judea. Later in his ministry he would travel to Gentile nations and spread the Gospel to the Ethiopians, Macedonians, Persians, and Parthians. He is said to have died a natural death either in Ethiopia or in Macedonia.