|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
7:12-14 Christ came to teach us, not only what we are to know and believe, but what we are to do; not only toward God, but toward men; not only toward those of our party and persuasion, but toward men in general, all with whom we have to do. We must do that to our neighbour which we ourselves acknowledge to be fit and reasonable. We must, in our dealings with men, suppose ourselves in the same case and circumstances with those we have to do with, and act accordingly. There are but two ways right and wrong, good and evil; the way to heaven and the way to hell; in the one or other of these all are walking: there is no middle place hereafter, no middle way now. All the children of men are saints or sinners, godly or ungodly. See concerning the way of sin and sinners, that the gate is wide, and stands open. You may go in at this gate with all your lusts about you; it gives no check to appetites or passions. It is a broad way; there are many paths in it; there is choice of sinful ways. There is a large company in this way. But what profit is there in being willing to go to hell with others, because they will not go to heaven with us? The way to eternal life is narrow. We are not in heaven as soon as we are got through the strait gate. Self must be denied, the body kept under, and corruptions mortified. Daily temptations must be resisted; duties must be done. We must watch in all things, and walk with care; and we must go through much tribulation. And yet this way should invite us all; it leads to life: to present comfort in the favour of God, which is the life of the soul; to eternal bliss, the hope of which at the end of our way, should make all the difficulties of the road easy to us. This plain declaration of Christ has been disregarded by many who have taken pains to explain it away; but in all ages the real disciple of Christ has been looked on as a singular, unfashionable character; and all that have sided with the greater number, have gone on in the broad road to destruction. If we would serve God, we must be firm in our religion. Can we often hear of the strait gate and the narrow way, and how few there are that find it, without being in pain for ourselves, or considering whether we are entered on the narrow way, and what progress we are making in it?
Verse 12. - Ver. 12a, parallel passage: Luke 6:31; Luke 12b, Matthew only. All things therefore. Therefore. Summing up the lesson of vers. 1-11 (cf. ver. 7, note). In consequence of all that I have said about censoriousness and the means of overcoming it, let the very opposite feeling rule your conduct towards others. Let all (emphatic) your dealings with men be conducted in the same spirit in which you would desire them to deal with you. Even so. Not "these things" do ye to them; for our Lord carefully avoids any expression that might lead to a legal enumeration of different details, but "thus" (οὕτως), referring to the character of your own wishes. (For this "golden rule," cf. Tobit 4:15 (negative form); cf. also patristic references in Resch, 'Agrapha,' pp. 95, 135.) On the occasional similarity of pre-Christian writings to the teaching of our Lord, Augustine (vide Trench, 'Serm.,' in loc.) well says it is "the glory of the written and spoken law, that it is the transcript of that which was from the first, and not merely as old as this man or that, but as the Creation itself, a reproduction of that obscured and forgotten law written at the beginning by the finger of God on the hearts of all men. When, therefore, heathen sages or poets proclaimed any part of this, they had not thereby anticipated Christ; they had only deciphered some fragment of that law, which he gave from the first, and which, when men, exiles and fugitives from themselves and from the knowledge of their own hearts, had lost the power of reading, he came in the flesh to read to them anew, and to bring out the well-nigh obliterated characters afresh." (Compare also Bishop Lightfoot's essay on "St. Paul and Seneca," in his 'Philippians.') For this is the law and the prophets. For this. This principle of action and mode of life is, in fact, the sum of all Bible teaching (cf. Leviticus 19:18). Observe:
(1) Our Lord brings out the same thought, but with its necessary limitation to the second table, in Matthew 22:40 (cf. Romans 13:10).
(2) Our Lord thus returns to the main subject of his sermon, the relation in which he and his must stand to the Law (Matthew 5:17).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Therefore all things whatsoever,.... These words are the epilogue, or conclusion of our Lord's discourse; the sum of what he had delivered in the two preceding chapters, and in this hitherto, is contained in these words; for they not only respect the exhortation about judging and reproving; but every duty respecting our neighbour; it is a summary of the whole. It is a golden rule, here delivered, and ought to be observed by all mankind, Jews and Gentiles. So the Karaite Jews (l) say,
"all things that a man would not take to himself, , "it is not fit to do them to his brethren".''
And Maimonides (m) has expressed it much in the same words our Lord here does;
"all things whatsoever ye would that others should do to you, (says he,) do you the same to your brethren, in the law, and in the commandments:''
only there seems to be a restriction in the word "brethren"; the Jews, perhaps, meaning no other than Israelites; whereas our Lord's rule reaches to all without exception, "all things whatsoever"
ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: let them be who they will, whether brethren, or kinsmen, according to the flesh, or what not; "for this is the law and the prophets": the sum of the law and the prophets; not the whole sum of them, or the sum of the whole law: but of that part of it which respects our neighbours. Remarkable is the advice given by Hillell (n) to one who came to be made a proselyte by him;
"whatsoever is hateful to thee, that do not thou to thy neighbour; , "this is all the whole law", and the rest is an explication of it, go and be perfect:''
yea, this rule is not only agreeable to the law of Moses, and the prophets, but even to the law and light of nature. Aristotle being asked, how we ought to carry ourselves to our friends, answered (o), as we would wish they would carry it to us. Alexander Severus, a Heathen emperor, so greatly admired this rule of Christ's, that he ordered it to be written on the walls of his closet.
(l) R. Eliahu Addaret, c. 3. apud Trigland de sect. Karaeorum, c. 10. p. 166. Vid. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 146. 4. (m) Hilch. Ebel. c. 14. sect. 1.((n) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 31. 1. Maimon. in Misn. Peah, c. 1. sect. 1.((o) Diog. Laert. in Vit. Aristotel. l. 5.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12. Therefore—to say all in one word.
all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them—the same thing and in the same way.
for this is the law and the prophets—"This is the substance of all relative duty; all Scripture in a nutshell." Incomparable summary! How well called "the royal law!" (Jas 2:8; compare Ro 13:9). It is true that similar maxims are found floating in the writings of the cultivated Greeks and Romans, and naturally enough in the Rabbinical writings. But so expressed as it is here—in immediate connection with, and as the sum of such duties as has been just enjoined, and such principles as had been before taught—it is to be found nowhere else. And the best commentary upon this fact is, that never till our Lord came down thus to teach did men effectually and widely exemplify it in their practice. The precise sense of the maxim is best referred to common sense. It is not, of course, what—in our wayward, capricious, gasping moods—we should wish that men would do to us, that we are to hold ourselves bound to do to them; but only what—in the exercise of an impartial judgment, and putting ourselves in their place—we consider it reasonable that they should do to us, that we are to do to them.
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