Why is “therefore” placed before the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12)?

In Matthew 7:12, we first encounter the word, “therefore.”

Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. NASB

As a rule, that word “therefore” tells us that what is to come is a summary, or a conclusion of what has previously been said. At first glance, it may be difficult to see it. But it is there. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his commentary, points it out quite well. Let me explain as he does.

Verses one through twelve are tied together in two groups, and verse twelve is a concluding statement.

  • Verses 1-6 deals with judging others wisely.
  • Verses 7-11 is a reminder to us that we need His grace in order to correctly deal with and judge others. We need to know how to pray for wisdom.
  • Verse 12 is a concluding verse for the entire section (verses 1-11). It is how we are to deal with others. We are to treat them in the same way we would want them to treat us.

Analyzing Matthew 7:12

So, verse 12 is not a detracted statement. Some bible versions have it as such; but because of the word “therefore” we know it is not. As Lloyd-Jones points out, our Lord all along in this entire section (verses 1-12) is dealing with the subject of our judging others, and in this last verse (12) He shows us more specifically how.

This passage is popularly known as the “golden rule.” We are to treat others in the same way we would want them to treat us. It is similar to the teaching: Love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 19:19).

Also, Jesus adds that this teaching is contained in all the law and the prophets (of the Old Testament). For example, that we would take care of our neighbor’s ox in the same way that we would want our ox to be cared for (Deut. 22:4).

Why do so many of us renounce the Golden Rule?

The simple reason why so many forsake this rule is because of sin and because of self—because we are thinking only of self and not others. This is the problem for both the Christian as well as the non-Christian.

For the Christian, he has an obvious solution. He must confess his sin and get right with God. Then he will be able to see things from a new, godly perspective. He will be able to see things as Jesus sees them.

For the non-Christian, there is really no hope for him at all apart from Christ. He will always be totally for himself, always thinking of self. And you need to know that this sermon was not for the non-Christian. It was directed toward His disciples. Nonetheless, if one is convicted of his sin and gives his life to God and accepts Christ as his savior, he too can become a Christian. Then all things will become new, and he will receive new unselfish desires—so much so that he will be able to obey this golden rule: to do unto others as we would want them to do unto us.

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