The One Verse

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

The Bible is complicated. Sometimes it is boring. For most people, Netflix is a lot more fun. The Bible can be hard to understand. There are 31,071 verses to try to make sense of in the Bible. It tends to overwhelm the average reader.

But I can give you the Bible in just One Verse.

Let me tell you the story of Rabbi Hillel.

According to tradition, Rabbi Hillel was born about 110 BC and died around 10 AD. He is associated with the development of the Mishnah and the Talmud.

One famous account in the Talmud (Shabbat 31a) is about a gentile who wanted to convert to Judaism. He announced that he would accept Judaism only if a rabbi would teach him the entire Torah while he, the prospective convert, stood on one foot. First, he went to Rabbi Shammai, who was insulted by this ridiculous request and threw the gentile out of his house.

The man did not give up. He wandered on until he found Rabbi Hillel, who accepted the challenge. As the man stood on one foot, the rabbi told him:

“What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation of this—go and study it!”

This gets to the heart of things. Jesus, about a hundred years later, will make a similar comment about the Bible, as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew:

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

The phrase Jesus used, “the Law and the Prophets,” is the way Jewish people of Jesus’ time referenced the Bible.

And so there it is. The One Verse that sums it all up. The entire Bible in just One Verse.

And, in fact, that single verse is a verse repeated over and over throughout the Bible. And all the rest of the Bible merely explains that One Verse.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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