The Golden Rule Matthew 7:12

November 15, 2016 Posted by: Bill Duvall


The Golden Rule

12 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.

Matthew 7:12 King James Version (KJV)

The Biblical Illustrator

Matthew 7:12

That men should do to you, do ye even so to them.

Wherein lies that exact righteousness which is required between man and man

I. The expectation of it. Put thyself into the place and circumstances of every man with whom thou hast to do. This is an exact rule. It is plain and easy. Three things are to be done before this rule will be of use to us.

1. We must make it appear reasonable.

2. Make it certain.

3. Make it practicable.

II. The grounds of this. The equity of the rule stands upon these foundations.

1. All men are equal in many things, and these the greatest things.

2. In most of those things wherein we are unequal, the inequality is not considerable, so as to be a ground of any unequal dealing with one another.

3. In all these things wherein men are unequal, the inequality is not fixed and constant, but mutable and by turns.

4. Among other grounds is the mutual and universal equity and advantage of this rule.

5. The absurdity and inconvenience of the contrary.

III. The instances.

1. In matters of civil respect and conversation.

2. In matters of kindness and courtesies.

3. In matters of charity and compassion.

4. In matters of forbearance and forgiveness.

5. In matters of report and representation of other men, and their actions.

6. In matters of trust and fidelity.

7. In matters of duty and obedience.

8. In matters of freedom and liberty, which are not determined by natural or positive law.

9. In matters of commerce and contracts which arise from thence.

IV. Rules for directing our commerce.

1. Impose upon no man’s ignorance or unskilfulness.

2. Impose upon no man’s necessity.

3. Use plainness in all your dealings.

4. In matters of fancy use moderation. Let us not revenge ourselves. (J. Tillotson, D. D.)

It is sometimes said that Christians are defective in the duties of the second table; hypocrites may be, but not real Christians.

I. A rule of life. This precept may be considered in the affirmative and negative; the latter to restrain injury, the former to do good. To impress this rule in the negative sense take four considerations.

1. That in the duties of the second table we have more light than we have in the first, for in the first we are to love God with all our heart (Matthew 22:26; Matthew 22:37), but the love to our neighbour is a measure more discernible. Love will tell us what is good for ourselves; in guiding our love to God we need many rules.

2. The breach of the rule is more evil in him which hath experienced the bitterness of wrongs, than in another; because experience giveth us a truer knowledge of things, than a naked conception of them. Thus conscience worketh in the way of restraint.

3. That this rule is spiritual, and concerneth the inward man as well as the outward, thoughts as well as actions.

4. This rule must be done not only out of love to man, but out of love to God, and as an act of obedience. Self-love is the measure, but not the principle, of our action. Now take the affirmative part.

1. In giving. Be as ready to do as to receive good.

2. In forgiving.

II. Vindicate this rule.

1. It seems not to be so perfect a rule: because many desire and wish much evil to themselves.

2. It seems to make all men equal, and destroy order and superiority, as master and servant.

3. Doth not this establish revenge and retaliation?

4. Is not this to impose a restraint upon the Christian from which others are free, and so to expose to constant loss?

III. The equity of this rule.

1. The actual equality of all men by nature.

2. The possible equality of all men as to condition and state of life.

IV. The illative particle “Therefore.”

1. That God is the judge of human actions. He will see whether you do to others as they do to you, and you shall hear of it in your dealing with God.

2. That the usage we expect from God the same in measure we should deal out to others. Application: What an advantage religion is to mankind in the present life.

Duty towards our neighbour

The several capacities wherein we can help or hinder him.

I. As to his soul. Promote its good by-

1. Prayer.

2. Example.

II. As to the body we must do as we would be done by.

III. We must deal with our neigh-bout as we desire be should deal with us, in respect of his good name.

IV. This rule extends to men’s estates.

1. Justice.

2. Charity. Some motives to induce the the practice of this rule:

1. The first shall be taken from the end for which they were made.

2. From the intrinsic beauty and loveliness of the rule itself.

3. Because we and they both bear the same stamp and impress of heaven.

4. Because if we be just and generous in time of our prosperity, it will cause a like affection in others to us.

5. It would be the best security of our lives, honour, reputation, riches, power. (Dr. Barrow.)

1. The mutual dependence of man upon his fellow man.

2. The duty which devolves on each to assist his neighbour, especially in spiritual things. (Bishop of Winchester.)

The golden rule

I. What is the true meaning of this Divine rule? That we practise toward our neighbour in such a manner as our hearts and consciences would think it reasonable he should practise towards us in a like case.

II. What is the special argument that our Lord uses in order to enforce it.

III. Wherein its particular excellencies appear. It is easy to be understood and applied, easy to be remembered, carries greater evidence to the conscience than any other rule of virtue, includes a powerful motive, will secure our neighbour from injury and us from guilt, as fitted to awaken repentance as to direct to duty, suits all stations, etc., includes all actions and duties, a rule of the highest prudence, and fitted to make the whole world happy.

IV. Reflections. How compendious the Saviour’s method of providing for the practice of all the moral duties enjoined by Moses and the prophets! What Divine wisdom to make the golden rule a fundamental law in both the Jewish and Christian systems. (Dr. Watts.)

Concerning this rule or principle note the following facts:

I. It is a golden rule. It is sound throughout and very precious.

II. This is our Saviour’s golden rule.

III. It is a revolutionary rule.

IV. It is a very stringent rule.

V. It is an evangelical rule. Whoever thinks about it cannot fail to see two things. His need of God’s forgiveness and God’s grace.

VI. Following the golden rule we shall be led to our duty and therefore to blessedness. (Anon.)

The golden rule of gospel equity

I. The precept itself and the limitations with which it is to be understood. We must not make what we expect others would do in our circumstances the rule of conduct; because we expect selfishness, we must not be selfish; this is retaliation. The rule of the text does not apply when what we would is inconsistent with the well-being of society; a creditor need not forego a just debt. So this rule has equity and right reason as a limit. We must not take too favourable views of our individual case and form an exaggerated estimate of what we are entitled to at the hands of a neighbour. Anger may be justified.

II. The excellency of this rule, and the grounds on which we claim for it the respect of mankind.

1. Its reasonableness, as founded on the original equality of all men.

2. Its capability of easy and immediate application.

3. The beneficence of such a rule in relation to ourselves. God seems to let us make our own laws.

III. A few practical illustrations of the way in which this rule may be applied.

1. Let the rule be applied to the civilities of social intercourse.

2. To the practice of neighhourly charities and compassions. “Ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

3. To the rights, properties, and good name of all around us.

4. To the social duties falling under no special name, regard for the opinions of others.

5. The connection of these several duties with the sinner’s acceptance with God. (D. Moore, M. A.)

The golden rule

I. The righteous rule of conduct here laid down.

1. In order to the performance of this duty there must be a sameness of circumstances. There is a diversity in the station and character of men; this requires diversity of duty towards them.

2. We must carefully observe the measure by which we are to regulate our conduct towards others. It is not what they actually do, but what we would desire they should do, which is to be our rule.

3. This rule must be taken with certain modifications, not absolutely; we might wish others to do things unreasonable and sinful; it must recognize the law of God.

II. Its excellence.

1. Its brevity.

2. Its comprehensiveness-“All things.”

3. Its perfect justice.

III. A few considerations to enforce obedience to it.

1. The argument exhibited by our Lord-“For this is the law and the prophets.”

2. The injunction of our Lord on this subject.

3. The powerful recommendation such u course would prove to the gospel of our Lord.

4. It is enforced by the benevolent and righteous example of Him who gave it.


1. It presents a most invaluable testimony to the truth of Christianity.

2. How happy will be the world when the religion of Jesus Christ shall be universally diffused. (J. E. Good.)

The golden rule a fundamental law

Nature’s great law that matter attracts matter; that a vast central world will attract planets from a straight line into a circle; that an earth will draw a falling apple to itself, and hold its liquid sea and liquid air close to itself, and will hold the seas under the air and the land under the sea, is not more fundamental in the material world than the golden rule is in the world of duty and happiness. Take away the single principle discovered by Newton, and the organized universe-is at once dissolved; air and water and land mingle; our globe would become a fluid, and fill its orbit with a floating debris of itself. The golden rule underlies our public and private justice, our society, our charity, our education, our religion; and the sorrows of bad government, of famine, of war, of caste, of slavery, have come from contempt of this principle. (D. Swing.)

Christ did not originate the golden rule, but gave it new meaning and power over men

To find the glory, therefore, of a truth you must not pause with the man who may have first announced it, for he may have had no conception of its worth, and may have given it little love, like the Sibyl who wrote prophecies which she did not herself understand, and which, written upon leaves, she permitted the winds to carry about never to be seen or eared for again. In order to locate the glory of discovery you must measure the heart and mind that first took hold of the idea or taw in its infancy or later life. You will find the word liberty in Caesar’s history and in Cicero’s ethics, but they knew nothing of the idea as compared with that conception of the word in the mind of a Wilberforce or a Polish exile. (D. Swing.)

The golden rule a portable law

By that I mean it is always at hand, always ready to be appealed to. It is like the “ two-foot rule “ which the skilful artizan always carries with him ready to take the measurement of any work to which he is called; a rule is his that can measure the brick that is but of few inches length, or that could compute the height of the pyramids. So is it with this law. Other social regulations, such as those of professional etiquette, of trade customs, and even of national statutes, are continually failing men according to the class or country in which they are found. But this is ever at hand. (U. R. Thomas.)

The golden rule should be remembered in the infliction of punishment

The Emperor Alexander Severus was so charmed by the excellence of this “golden rule,” that he obliged a crier to repeat it whenever he had occasion to punish any person; and caused it to be inscribed in the most noted parts of his palace, and on many of the public buildings: he also professed so high a regard for Christ, as having been the author of so excellent a rule, that he desired to have Him enrolled among the deities.

Exell, Joseph S. “Commentary on “Matthew 7:12”. The Biblical Illustrator. “//”. 1905-1909. New York.


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