Law is a system of rules that a society develops to deal with issues such as crime, business agreements and social relationships. It can also refer to the professions that work in this area – for example lawyers, judges and police officers.
Laws help ensure a safe, peaceful and orderly society. They protect people’s rights and allow for the fair resolution of disputes. They can also impose sanctions when people break the rules. For example, if two people argue over ownership of a piece of property the courts can decide who is the owner and determine how to resolve the dispute.
The precise definition of law is a matter of longstanding debate. However, most scholars agree that the term law refers to a set of rules created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It includes commands, ordinances and admonition.
Legal systems vary, but most of them have a common feature: a legislative branch that establishes and consolidates laws. This is accompanied by a judiciary branch that interprets and adapts these laws to changing social circumstances. Some of the world’s main legal traditions are civil law, Roman law, Islamic law and English common law.
The Bible presents the Law of God as a tutor and guardian until Messiah comes (Col 2:17; Heb 8:5; 9:9). It provokes sinners and demonstrates their need for a Savior who can redeem them from the Law’s condemnation (Gal 3:20; Rom 3:19).