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?

5 Answers 5


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.

  • Perhaps the true gold standard is "Be perfect, as your Father in Heaven is perfect."
    – Andrew
    Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 21:26

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").

  • 1
    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
    Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 5:21

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.


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.

  • It's good form to link to answers you refer to, and not just simply state the author. Answers get moved up and down and removed as voting and moderation occur, so referring to other answers in plain text can end up confusing readers and detract from your answer. Good answers stand alone.
    – Andrew
    Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 21:23

the Golden Rule is considered the universal maxim for a reason;

"do unto others as you would have them do unto you"

lie for (the sake of) others as you would have others lie for (the sake of) you; this example violates the golden rule by virtue of entailing (implicitly including) "lying to others"

in other words, your example (clever i admit) would be violating the Golden Rule by virtue of yourself not wanting others to lie to you.

Pax Christi

  • This answer would be a lot better if you could add references showing that this is a common understanding, and who teaches/believes it. On this site, we're not looking for personal interpretation, but rather focusing on what various Christian groups teach. See How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 22:32
  • Of course, to be fair to you, the question itself is not acceptable under current site standards. It's from a while back when we were still figuring out what type of question should be allowed, and what tends to degenerate into debate over who's right. Please see the links in my previous comment, and don't be disheartened. Most of us didn't "get" the site at first, either. Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 22:33
  • Alright i now understand your point. However, can i know the reason i'm being down-voted? or by whom? can he who down-voted comment on my post / correct me if i were wrong? can you make it obligatory to mention the reason for down-votes lest it becomes a bullying tool?
    – eil
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 5:52
  • No, there's no way for anyone to tell who down-voted you. (I can tell you it wasn't me. I save down-votes for experienced users that should know better.) Anonymity in voting is a central tenet to how StackExchange sites work. Several people have suggested making comments mandatory, and that has never flown. As for abuse and targeting of specific users (aka bullying)... There are tools in place for moderators to see if someone is targeting a specific user. We check that regularly. Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 5:56

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