Matthew 7:12

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Matthew 7:12 is the twelfth verse of the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament and is part of the Sermon on the Mount. This well known verse presents what has become known as the Golden Rule.

In the King James Version of the Bible the text reads:

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you:
do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets

The World English Bible translates the passage as:

Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you
shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets.

For a collection of other versions see BibleGateway Matthew 7:12

This verse is considered to be a summation of the entire sermon. Some editions append it to the end of Matthew 7:7-11, and the rule does seem to be an expansion on the teaching about prayer in that section. However, the word therefore and the mention of the law and the prophets implies that this is a more far reaching teaching. Davies and Allison note that this is indicated by the mention of the law and the prophets, which links the verse back to Matthew 5:17, the start of the teaching on ethics. The verse is most closely linked with the teaching to "love thy enemies" in Matthew 5:44.[1] In Luke 6:31 the Rule is present just after the teaching about enemies, making the link even more explicit. Luz notes that as well as summarizing the sermon, this rule also adapts it to normal life. While verses like Matthew 5:29 seem incompatible with reality, the teachings in this verse can reasonably be attempted by all.[2]

Richard Thomas France notes that the negative form of the Golden Rule, don't do to others what you don’t want them to do to you, appears in several works of Greek philosophy and also in earlier Jewish writings. It also appears in other traditions such as Buddhism and Confucianism. However, Jesus might have been the first to formulate this positive version of the rule. There are some works with a positive version that claim to have been written before Jesus, but their authenticity is doubtful.[3] Luz notes that some scholars see the positive version as being very important because it instructs all disciples to work actively for the good of others, not simply to desist passively from doing harm. However, Luz notes that in actual implementation there is not a great deal of difference between the two formulations. He ascribes much of the efforts to divide the two ideas to anti-Judaic prejudices of many Biblical scholars. Early Christian writers saw little difference between the two versions, and several paraphrased this verse with the negative form.[4]

One problem with the Golden Rule that has been noted by many readers

is that it does not account for those who wish themselves harm. Society would not be well served by those who are masochistic or suicidal following this rule, nor those intent on committing sins of indulgence. According to Luz, St. Augustine noticed this problem and commented on how many redactors rephrased this verse as "whatsoever good you desire…"[5]

The concluding phrase indicates that Jesus is here presenting the Golden Rule as a valid summary for the entirety of moral law. It might also be a reference to Hillel, whose negative formulation of the Golden Rule ended with a similar statement that it represented the totality of Biblical teachings. The author of Matthew presents a second summation of religious law at Matthew 22:40, where Jesus tells his followers there are but two laws: to love God and to love neighbour. While phrased differently, these two basic laws are essentially the same.[6]


  1. ^ Davies, W.D. and Dale C. Allison, Jr. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew. Edinburgh : T. & T. Clark, 1988-1997.
  2. ^ Luz, Ulrich. Matthew 1-7: A Commentary. trans. Wilhlem C. Linss. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortess, 1989.
  3. ^ France, R.T. The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985.
  4. ^ Luz, Ulrich. Matthew 1-7: A Commentary. trans. Wilhlem C. Linss. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortess, 1989.
  5. ^ Luz, Ulrich. Matthew 1-7: A Commentary. trans. Wilhlem C. Linss. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortess, 1989.
  6. ^ Fowler, Harold. The Gospel of Matthew: Volume One. Joplin: College Press, 1968

Preceded by
Matthew 7:11
Gospel of Matthew
Chapter 7
Succeeded by
Matthew 7:13