What Is Law?


The law is the body of rules and regulations established by a country or organization that defines people’s rights, duties, and obligations. These rules are enforced by a controlling authority through courts or other administrative bodies. Law is a broad term that encompasses many different types of laws, including contracts; property; criminal; civil; and constitutional.

In the Bible, the word “law” (Hebrew: torah) often refers to what God commanded His followers to do. Matthew’s reference to every iota and dot of the law, for example, indicates this broader meaning of the term. However, there are several passages where the word torah is used more narrowly to mean specific commandments or requirements from the Mosaic law (e.g., Deuteronomy 22:21; Proverbs 24:23).

Blackstone’s definition of the rule of law included four key principles: The law is clear and publicized. It is stable and applies evenly to everyone. It protects human and property rights and ensures justice is delivered in a timely manner by accessible, competent, ethical representatives and neutrals who reflect the makeup of society.

Legal systems differ from country to country, and even within a single country. But these systems do tend to fall into groups or patterns with certain similarities based on historically accepted justice ideals. Some of the most common groups include common law, civil law, and religious law. Each of these systems has its own advantages and disadvantages, but all of them are rooted in the same set of justice ideals.