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Does the Golden Rule, often stated as "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" originate from the Bible and the teachings of Jesus? If not where does it come from? If so how was it originally used? How it is supposed to be applied today?

Consider a case where the thing somebody would want you to do for them is to sin. As a simple example, many people will lie to keep their friends out of trouble. They expect their friends to do the same for them. If the Golden Rule was the only rule employed between them, their sin would just continue to multiply. What's to prevent this?

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4 Answers 4

Matthew 7:12 (NIV) sounds a lot like the Golden rule:

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

But it also says it's only a summary of the Law and Prophets, not that it's actually a hard-and-fast rule.

The problem with your example is it puts "others" at odds with each other... There are two "theys"--your friends, and those you would lie to. The Golden Rule is not far-reaching enough to address these sorts of ethical situations.

I think the true "Gold Standard" is to love God and people (Luke 10:27). The Golden Rule is intended to provide a sort of definition of what it means to love others. That doesn't mean it's air-tight in a logical sense. But even so, if we all practiced the Golden Rule to the letter (even lying for our friends, as in your example), I suspect the world would be a much better place than it is now.

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The Golden Rule in its current form probably originated with Jesus. A similar saying is attributed to Rabbi Hillel, who lived in Jerusalem about a century before Jesus:

A Gentile came to Rabbi Hillel and said, "I will convert to Judaism if you can teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel replied, "That which is distasteful to you do not do unto another. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary. Go and learn it."

Jesus' version goes much further than Hillel's does, in requiring action from us.

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Filmzy has identified where the Golden Rule is found in the Bible.

As for the 2nd part of your question, I would like to bring out this verse:

1 Corinthians 14:33 KJV

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

Yes of course if following only the Golden rule sin may creep in. However if we do things in glory of God and following Golden rule, the scenario would probably be something like this:

A group of friends are together. One sinned. The others advised him and brought him back to righteousness, for each of the others too want their friends to bring them back if they make mistakes.

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The Golden Rule can indeed be found in the teachings of Jesus: 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.

The Wikipedia article claims that there are earlier antecedents for it, but they do not appear to be the same exact formulation; in particular they are all the 'negative' of it ("don't do bad" rather than "do good").

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It's interesting to note the contrast in thinking from other religious leaders/ philosophers and Jesus. While others concentrate on do not do bad, God defines evil not as a thing itself but as anything other than good. 'Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.' James 4:17 . Also the literal meaning of Sin is not doing bad things, but 'missing the mark' as in you aim at something good and don't quit do that. –  2tim424 Aug 30 '11 at 5:21

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