Matthew 7:12 Meaning of Do unto Others

Matthew 7:12
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Explanation and Commentary of Matthew 7:12

After explaining that our Father in heaven loves to give good gifts to those who ask, Jesus says this verse. While it is true that we are to “love our neighbor as ourselves” (Mk 12:31), and we are even to “consider others more important than ourselves” (Phil 2:3), it is a given that to be a being with a self, we naturally major on loving ourselves, and caring for ourselves. This can be done sinfully, and selfishly, or logically from the standpoint of stewardship. In a certain sense, if we do not take care of ourselves, someone else will be forced to, or we will die. Stewardship dictates that we take responsibility for whatever God gives us, and this starts with our very own bodies. Paul said to the Ephesian husbands, “After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church” (Eph 5:29).

Given that this is the case, Jesus makes a perfectly logical statement here about the way we should view the other image-bearers of God, as intrinsically valuable to God, so they should be to us. He reveals that the entirety of the Law and the Prophets is codified at details for how to treat others. What kind of rights would you want for yourself? Apply those to your fellow man and you will do him no harm and you will not dishonor the God who created them. Jesus says the same thing about the Greatest Commandment. Matthew 22:36-40 says, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Breaking Down the Key Parts of Matthew 7:12

#1 “So in everything,”
In the same way that God is a good Father who loves to give gifts to his children, treat others rightly and generously in everything.

#2 “do to others…”
This will involve anything that can be done to or for people. It means to think of them, give to them, respond to them, associate with them, listen to them, and anything else that can be done to them.

#3 “…what you would have them do to you,”
Our sense of justice is extremely keen concerning ourselves. It takes almost no thought to know what we think should be the attitude and treatment of others to ourselves. This is the place to start to consider how then we should treat the people around us. Their rights are the same as ours, and for the same reason: they are created by God in his image and for his glory, and he loves them.

#4 “for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
All the commands of the Old Testament are designed around one purpose: the rights of others and how we should treat them because of those rights. We should love them because we love God. We should treat them as we’d like to be treated.

Expert Overview of Matthew Ch. 1-13

Biblical Translations of Matthew 7:12

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

“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.”

“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 7:12 Meaning and Commentary

Author Bio
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.