Matthew 7:12,  the golden rule

It was common for a Rabbi to end a block of teaching with a brief summary of the lesson. In this verse Jesus provides just such a summary. It is recognisably that, for the famous Rabbi Hillel had used a quite similar phrase to summarise the Law.

In Matt 5:17-18, Jesus stressed that he was not trying to do away with the wisdom of the Law and the prophets, but to fulfil them. This verse’s summation of the Law and prophets is the golden rule upon which all others rules concerning inter-personal behaviour rest. 

The idea that one should not do anything to others that you would not want them to do to you was widely accepted. After all, few of us would desire our family to be treated unjustly, with hatred and intolerance. Most would settle for their family being treated fairly, with politeness and toleration. However, for Jesus, God’s commandments were as much about actively doing as passively refraining. God instructs his servants to treat humanity precisely the way he wants his ‘family’ to be treated, with justice, mercy and love. In that respect, he always intended mankind to follow his lead.