The Meaning of Acts 21:20 Explained

Acts 21:20

KJV: And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:

YLT: and they having heard, were glorifying the Lord. They said also to him, 'Thou seest, brother, how many myriads there are of Jews who have believed, and all are zealous of the law,

Darby: And they having heard it glorified God, and said to him, Thou seest, brother, how many myriads there are of the Jews who have believed, and all are zealous of the law.

ASV: And they, when they heard it, glorified God; and they said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of them that have believed; and they are all zealous for the law:

What does Acts 21:20 Mean?

Context Summary

Acts 21:15-26 - Binding Together The Church
Mnason was an early disciple. He could remember the first days of the Church's story. It was good for Paul to have the society and care of this good man during those last troublous days. Notwithstanding all the efforts of the Judaizing elements in the Church, the splendid labors of the Apostle were estimated at their true worth, and he was gladly welcomed by the brethren at Jerusalem. Note how careful he was to attribute all to God. Paul was only the instrument through whom the Almighty wrought for the glory of Jesus, Acts 21:19.
The action here described, which was strongly recommended by the leaders of the Church, seems at variance with what Paul so clearly states in his Epistle to the Galatians, Galatians 2:3-5; and perhaps it would have been a wiser and stronger policy for him to have remained in quiet obscurity till the feast was over. But we must remember the deep coloring which the proximity of the Temple gave to church life at Jerusalem, and Paul was willing to be guided by men like James, in whose judgment he had full confidence. In addition, he was always willing to yield in cases which did not concern principle. He acquiesced in such matters for the sake of charity, so that he gladly became as a Jew to Jews, that he might save the Jews, 1 Corinthians 9:20. [source]

Chapter Summary: Acts 21

1  Paul calls at the house of Philip, whose daughters prophesy
10  Agabus, foretelling what should befall him at Jerusalem,
13  he will not be dissuaded from going thither
17  He comes to Jerusalem;
27  where he is apprehended, and in great danger, but by the chief captain is rescued;
37  and requests, and is permitted to speak to the people

Greek Commentary for Acts 21:20

Glorified [εδοχαζον]
Inchoative imperfect, began to glorify God, though without special praise of Paul. [source]
How many thousands [ποσαι μυριαδες]
Old word for ten thousand (Acts 19:19) and then an indefinite number like our “myriads” (this very word) as Luke 12:1; Acts 21:20; Judges 1:14; Revelation 5:11; Revelation 9:16. But it is a surprising statement even with allowable hyperbole, but one may recall Acts 4:4 (number of the men--not women--about five thousand); Acts 5:14 (multitudes both of men and women); Acts 6:7. There were undoubtedly a great many thousands of believers in Jerusalem and all Jewish Christians, some, alas, Judaizers (Acts 11:2; Acts 15:1, Acts 15:5). This list may include the Christians from neighbouring towns in Palestine and even some from foreign countries here at the Feast of Pentecost, for it is probable that Paul arrived in time for it as he had hoped. But we do not have to count the hostile Jews from Asia (Acts 21:27) who were clearly not Christians at all. All zealous for the law (παντες ζηλωται του νομου — pantes zēlōtai tou nomou). Zealots (substantive) rather than zealous (adjective) with objective genitive (του νομου — tou nomou). The word zealot is from ζηλοω — zēloō to burn with zeal, to boil. The Greek used ζηλωτης — zēlōtēs for an imitator or admirer. There was a party of Zealots (developed from the Pharisees), a group of what would be called “hot-heads,” who brought on the war with Rome. One of this party, Simon Zelotes (Acts 1:13), was in the number of the twelve apostles. It is important to understand the issues in Jerusalem. It was settled at the Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15; Galatians 2) that the Mosaic ceremonial law was not to be imposed upon Gentile Christians. Paul won freedom for them, but it was not said that it was wrong for Jewish Christians to go on observing it if they wished. We have seen Paul observing the passover in Philippi (Acts 20:6) and planning to reach Jerusalem for Pentecost (Acts 20:16). The Judaizers rankled under Paul‘s victory and power in spreading the gospel among the Gentiles and gave him great trouble in Galatia and Corinth. They were busy against him in Jerusalem also and it was to undo the harm done by them in Jerusalem that Paul gathered the great collection from the Gentile Christians and brought it with him and the delegates from the churches. Clearly then Paul had real ground for his apprehension of trouble in Jerusalem while still in Corinth (Romans 15:25) when he asked for the prayers of the Roman Christians (Romans 15:30-32). The repeated warnings along the way were amply justified. [source]
All zealous for the law [παντες ζηλωται του νομου]
Zealots (substantive) rather than zealous (adjective) with objective genitive The word zealot is from ζηλοω — zēloō to burn with zeal, to boil. The Greek used ζηλωτης — zēlōtēs for an imitator or admirer. There was a party of Zealots (developed from the Pharisees), a group of what would be called “hot-heads,” who brought on the war with Rome. One of this party, Simon Zelotes (Acts 1:13), was in the number of the twelve apostles. It is important to understand the issues in Jerusalem. It was settled at the Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15; Galatians 2) that the Mosaic ceremonial law was not to be imposed upon Gentile Christians. Paul won freedom for them, but it was not said that it was wrong for Jewish Christians to go on observing it if they wished. We have seen Paul observing the passover in Philippi (Acts 20:6) and planning to reach Jerusalem for Pentecost (Acts 20:16). The Judaizers rankled under Paul‘s victory and power in spreading the gospel among the Gentiles and gave him great trouble in Galatia and Corinth. They were busy against him in Jerusalem also and it was to undo the harm done by them in Jerusalem that Paul gathered the great collection from the Gentile Christians and brought it with him and the delegates from the churches. Clearly then Paul had real ground for his apprehension of trouble in Jerusalem while still in Corinth (Romans 15:25) when he asked for the prayers of the Roman Christians (Romans 15:30-32). The repeated warnings along the way were amply justified. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Acts 21:20

Luke 12:1 Many thousands [μυριαδων]
Genitive absolute with επισυναχτεισων — episunachtheisōn (first aorist passive participle feminine plural because of μυριαδων — muriadōn), a double compound late verb, επισυναγω — episunagō to gather together unto. The word “myriads” is probably hyperbolical as in Acts 21:20, but in the sense of ten thousand, as in Acts 19:19, it means a very large crowd apparently drawn together by the violent attacks of the rabbis against Jesus.Insomuch that they trode one upon another (ωστε καταπατειν αλληλους — hōste katapatein allēlous). The imagination must complete the picture of this jam.Unto his disciples first of all This long discourse in Luke 12 is really a series of separate talks to various groups in the vast crowds around Jesus. This particular talk goes through Luke 12:12.Beware of (προσεχετε εαυτοις απο — prosechete heautois apo). Put your mind (νουν — noun understood) for yourselves (dative) and avoid (απο — apo with the ablative).The leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy In Mark 8:15 Jesus had coupled the lesson of the Pharisees with that of Herod, in Matthew 16:6 with that of the Sadducees also. He had long ago called the Pharisees hypocrites (Matthew 6:2, Matthew 6:5, Matthew 6:16). The occasion was ripe here for this crisp saying. In Matthew 13:33 leaven does not have an evil sense as here. See note on Matthew 23:13 for hypocrites. Hypocrisy was the leading Pharisaic vice (Bruce) and was a mark of sanctity to hide an evil heart. [source]
Acts 21:20 How many thousands [ποσαι μυριαδες]
Old word for ten thousand (Acts 19:19) and then an indefinite number like our “myriads” (this very word) as Luke 12:1; Acts 21:20; Judges 1:14; Revelation 5:11; Revelation 9:16. But it is a surprising statement even with allowable hyperbole, but one may recall Acts 4:4 (number of the men--not women--about five thousand); Acts 5:14 (multitudes both of men and women); Acts 6:7. There were undoubtedly a great many thousands of believers in Jerusalem and all Jewish Christians, some, alas, Judaizers (Acts 11:2; Acts 15:1, Acts 15:5). This list may include the Christians from neighbouring towns in Palestine and even some from foreign countries here at the Feast of Pentecost, for it is probable that Paul arrived in time for it as he had hoped. But we do not have to count the hostile Jews from Asia (Acts 21:27) who were clearly not Christians at all. All zealous for the law (παντες ζηλωται του νομου — pantes zēlōtai tou nomou). Zealots (substantive) rather than zealous (adjective) with objective genitive (του νομου — tou nomou). The word zealot is from ζηλοω — zēloō to burn with zeal, to boil. The Greek used ζηλωτης — zēlōtēs for an imitator or admirer. There was a party of Zealots (developed from the Pharisees), a group of what would be called “hot-heads,” who brought on the war with Rome. One of this party, Simon Zelotes (Acts 1:13), was in the number of the twelve apostles. It is important to understand the issues in Jerusalem. It was settled at the Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15; Galatians 2) that the Mosaic ceremonial law was not to be imposed upon Gentile Christians. Paul won freedom for them, but it was not said that it was wrong for Jewish Christians to go on observing it if they wished. We have seen Paul observing the passover in Philippi (Acts 20:6) and planning to reach Jerusalem for Pentecost (Acts 20:16). The Judaizers rankled under Paul‘s victory and power in spreading the gospel among the Gentiles and gave him great trouble in Galatia and Corinth. They were busy against him in Jerusalem also and it was to undo the harm done by them in Jerusalem that Paul gathered the great collection from the Gentile Christians and brought it with him and the delegates from the churches. Clearly then Paul had real ground for his apprehension of trouble in Jerusalem while still in Corinth (Romans 15:25) when he asked for the prayers of the Roman Christians (Romans 15:30-32). The repeated warnings along the way were amply justified. [source]
Acts 22:3 Born [γεγεννημενος]
Perfect passive participle of γενναω — gennaō See above in Acts 21:39 for the claim of Tarsus as his birth-place. He was a Hellenistic Jew, not an Aramaean Jew (cf. Acts 6:1). Brought up (ανατετραμμενος — anatethrammenos). Perfect passive participle again of ανατρεπω — anatrephō to nurse up, to nourish up, common old verb, but in the N.T. only here, Acts 7:20., and MSS. in Luke 4:16. The implication is that Paul was sent to Jerusalem while still young, “from my youth” (Acts 26:4), how young we do not know, possibly thirteen or fourteen years old. He apparently had not seen Jesus in the flesh (2 Corinthians 5:16). At the feet of Gamaliel The rabbis usually sat on a raised seat with the pupils in a circle around either on lower seats or on the ground. Paul was thus nourished in Pharisaic Judaism as interpreted by Gamaliel, one of the lights of Judaism. For remarks on Gamaliel see chapter Acts 5:34. He was one of the seven Rabbis to whom the Jews gave the highest title αββαν — Rabban (our Rabbi). αββι — Rabbi (my teacher) was next, the lowest being αβ — Rab (teacher). “As Aquinas among the schoolmen was called Doctor Angelicus, and Bonaventura Doctor Seraphicus, so Gamaliel was called the Beauty of the Law ” (Conybeare and Howson). Instructed (πεπαιδευμενος — pepaideumenos). Perfect passive participle again (each participle beginning a clause), this time of παιδευω — paideuō old verb to train a child (παις — pais) as in Acts 7:22 which see. In this sense also in 1 Timothy 1:20; Titus 2:12. Then to chastise as in Luke 23:16, Luke 23:22 (which see); 2 Timothy 2:25; Hebrews 12:6. According to the strict manner Old word, only here in N.T. Mathematical accuracy, minute exactness as seen in the adjective in Acts 26:5. See also Romans 10:2; Galatians 1:4; Philemon 3:4-7. Of our fathers (πατρωιου — patrōiou). Old adjective from πατερ — pater only here and Acts 24:14 in N.T. Means descending from father to son, especially property and other inherited privileges. Πατρικος — Patrikos (patrician) refers more to personal attributes and affiliations. Being zealous for God Not adjective, but substantive zealot (same word used by James of the thousands of Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, Acts 21:20 which see) with objective genitive του τεου — tou theou (for God). See also Acts 21:14; Acts 28:17; 2 Timothy 1:3 where he makes a similar claim. So did Peter (Acts 3:13; Acts 5:30) and Stephen (Acts 7:32). Paul definitely claims, whatever freedom he demanded for Gentile Christians, to be personally “a zealot for God” “even as ye all are this day” In his conciliation he went to the limit and puts himself by the side of the mob in their zeal for the law, mistaken as they were about him. He was generous surely to interpret their fanatical frenzy as zeal for God. But Paul is sincere as he proceeds to show by appeal to his own conduct. [source]
Acts 22:3 At the feet of Gamaliel [προς τους ποδας Γαμαλιηλ]
The rabbis usually sat on a raised seat with the pupils in a circle around either on lower seats or on the ground. Paul was thus nourished in Pharisaic Judaism as interpreted by Gamaliel, one of the lights of Judaism. For remarks on Gamaliel see chapter Acts 5:34. He was one of the seven Rabbis to whom the Jews gave the highest title αββαν — Rabban (our Rabbi). αββι — Rabbi (my teacher) was next, the lowest being αβ — Rab (teacher). “As Aquinas among the schoolmen was called Doctor Angelicus, and Bonaventura Doctor Seraphicus, so Gamaliel was called the Beauty of the Law ” (Conybeare and Howson). Instructed (πεπαιδευμενος — pepaideumenos). Perfect passive participle again (each participle beginning a clause), this time of παιδευω — paideuō old verb to train a child (παις — pais) as in Acts 7:22 which see. In this sense also in 1 Timothy 1:20; Titus 2:12. Then to chastise as in Luke 23:16, Luke 23:22 (which see); 2 Timothy 2:25; Hebrews 12:6. According to the strict manner Old word, only here in N.T. Mathematical accuracy, minute exactness as seen in the adjective in Acts 26:5. See also Romans 10:2; Galatians 1:4; Philemon 3:4-7. Of our fathers (πατρωιου — patrōiou). Old adjective from πατερ — pater only here and Acts 24:14 in N.T. Means descending from father to son, especially property and other inherited privileges. Πατρικος — Patrikos (patrician) refers more to personal attributes and affiliations. Being zealous for God Not adjective, but substantive zealot (same word used by James of the thousands of Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, Acts 21:20 which see) with objective genitive του τεου — tou theou (for God). See also Acts 21:14; Acts 28:17; 2 Timothy 1:3 where he makes a similar claim. So did Peter (Acts 3:13; Acts 5:30) and Stephen (Acts 7:32). Paul definitely claims, whatever freedom he demanded for Gentile Christians, to be personally “a zealot for God” “even as ye all are this day” In his conciliation he went to the limit and puts himself by the side of the mob in their zeal for the law, mistaken as they were about him. He was generous surely to interpret their fanatical frenzy as zeal for God. But Paul is sincere as he proceeds to show by appeal to his own conduct. [source]
Acts 22:3 According to the strict manner [κατα ακριβειαν]
Old word, only here in N.T. Mathematical accuracy, minute exactness as seen in the adjective in Acts 26:5. See also Romans 10:2; Galatians 1:4; Philemon 3:4-7. Of our fathers (πατρωιου — patrōiou). Old adjective from πατερ — pater only here and Acts 24:14 in N.T. Means descending from father to son, especially property and other inherited privileges. Πατρικος — Patrikos (patrician) refers more to personal attributes and affiliations. Being zealous for God Not adjective, but substantive zealot (same word used by James of the thousands of Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, Acts 21:20 which see) with objective genitive του τεου — tou theou (for God). See also Acts 21:14; Acts 28:17; 2 Timothy 1:3 where he makes a similar claim. So did Peter (Acts 3:13; Acts 5:30) and Stephen (Acts 7:32). Paul definitely claims, whatever freedom he demanded for Gentile Christians, to be personally “a zealot for God” “even as ye all are this day” In his conciliation he went to the limit and puts himself by the side of the mob in their zeal for the law, mistaken as they were about him. He was generous surely to interpret their fanatical frenzy as zeal for God. But Paul is sincere as he proceeds to show by appeal to his own conduct. [source]
Acts 22:3 Being zealous for God [ζηλωτης υπαρχων του τεου]
Not adjective, but substantive zealot (same word used by James of the thousands of Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, Acts 21:20 which see) with objective genitive του τεου — tou theou (for God). See also Acts 21:14; Acts 28:17; 2 Timothy 1:3 where he makes a similar claim. So did Peter (Acts 3:13; Acts 5:30) and Stephen (Acts 7:32). Paul definitely claims, whatever freedom he demanded for Gentile Christians, to be personally “a zealot for God” “even as ye all are this day” In his conciliation he went to the limit and puts himself by the side of the mob in their zeal for the law, mistaken as they were about him. He was generous surely to interpret their fanatical frenzy as zeal for God. But Paul is sincere as he proceeds to show by appeal to his own conduct. [source]
Acts 22:3 zealot [same word used by James of the thousands of Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, Acts 21:20 which see)]
(same word used by James of the thousands of Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, Acts 21:20 which see) with objective genitive του τεου — tou theou (for God). See also Acts 21:14; Acts 28:17; 2 Timothy 1:3 where he makes a similar claim. So did Peter (Acts 3:13; Acts 5:30) and Stephen (Acts 7:32). Paul definitely claims, whatever freedom he demanded for Gentile Christians, to be personally “a zealot for God” “even as ye all are this day” In his conciliation he went to the limit and puts himself by the side of the mob in their zeal for the law, mistaken as they were about him. He was generous surely to interpret their fanatical frenzy as zeal for God. But Paul is sincere as he proceeds to show by appeal to his own conduct. [source]
Galatians 1:14 More exceedingly zealous [περισσοτερως ζηλοτης]
Literally, “more exceedingly a zealot.” See note on Acts 1:13; note on Acts 21:20; and note on 1 Corinthians 14:12. Like Simon Zelotes. [source]
Galatians 1:14 Beyond many of mine own age [υπερ πολλους συνηλικιωτας]
Later compound form for the Attic ηλικιωτης — hēlikiōtēs which occurs in Dion Hal. and inscriptions (from συν — sun with, and ηλικια — hēlikia age). Paul modestly claims that he went “beyond” Literally, “more exceedingly a zealot.” See note on Acts 1:13; note on Acts 21:20; and note on 1 Corinthians 14:12. Like Simon Zelotes. For the traditions of my fathers Objective genitive after ζηλοτης — zēlotēs Πατρικων — Patrikōn only here in N.T., though old word from πατηρ — patēr (father), paternal, descending from one‘s father. For πατρωιος — patrōios see note on Acts 22:3 and Acts 22:14. Tradition Paul now taught the Christian tradition (2 Thessalonians 2:15). [source]
Titus 2:14 A peculiar people [λαὸν περιούσιον]
Λαός peopleonly here in Pastorals. In Paul ten times, always in citations. Most frequently in Luke and Acts; often in Hebrews and Revelation. Περιούσιος N.T.oA few times in lxx, always with λαός . See Exodus 19:5; Exodus 23:22; Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2; Deuteronomy 26:18. The phrase was originally applied to the people of Israel, but is transferred here to believers in the Messiah - Jews and Gentiles. Comp. 1 Peter 2:10. Περιούσιος is from the participle of περιεῖναι tobe over and above: hence περιουσία abundanceplenty. Περιούσιος also means possessed over and above, that is, specially selected for one's own; exempt from ordinary laws of distribution. Hence correctly represented by peculiar, derived from peculium, a private purse, a special acquisition of a member of a family distinct from the property administered for the good of the whole family. Accordingly the sense is given in Ephesians 1:14, where believers are said to have been sealed εἰς ἀπολύτρωσιν τῆς περιποιήσεως witha view to redemption of possession, or redemption which will give possession, thus = acquisition. So 1 Peter 2:9, where Christians are styled λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν apeople for acquisition, to be acquired by God as his peculiar possession. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 5:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:14, and περιποιεῖσθαι toacquire, Acts 20:28. The phrase καθαρίζειν λαὸν topurify the people, in lxx, Nehemiah 12:30; Acts href="/desk/?q=ac+21:20&sr=1">Acts 21:20; Acts 22:3; 1 Peter 3:13. Only here in Pastorals. In Paul, 1 Corinthians 14:12; Galatians 1:14. For the word as a title, see on the Canaanite, Matthew 10:4, and see on Mark 3:18. [source]
James 1:1 Jesus Christ []
Only here and in James 2:1; nowhere in the speeches of James (Acts 15:14, Acts 15:15; Acts 21:20sq.). Had he used Jesus' name it might have been supposed to arise from vanity, because he was the Lord's brother. In all the addresses of epistles the full name, Jesus Christ, is given. [source]
Revelation 5:11 Ten thousand times ten thousand [μυρίαδες μυρίαδων]
Lit., ten thousands of ten thousands. Compare Psalm 68:17; Daniel 8:10. Μυριάς , whence the English myriad, means the number ten thousand. So, literally, Acts 19:19, ἀργυρίου μυριάδας πέντε fifty-thousandpieces of silver; lit., five ten-thousands. In the plural used for an unlimited number. See Luke 12:1; Acts 21:20; Hebrews 12:22; Judges 1:14. [source]

What do the individual words in Acts 21:20 mean?

Those then having heard began glorifying - God They said then to him You see brother how many myriads there are among the Jews - having believed and all zealous ones for the law are
Οἱ δὲ ἀκούσαντες ἐδόξαζον τὸν Θεόν εἶπόν τε αὐτῷ Θεωρεῖς ἀδελφέ πόσαι μυριάδες εἰσὶν ἐν τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις τῶν πεπιστευκότων καὶ πάντες ζηλωταὶ τοῦ νόμου ὑπάρχουσιν

Οἱ  Those 
Parse: Article, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
ἀκούσαντες  having  heard 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Participle Active, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: ἀκουστός 
Sense: to be endowed with the faculty of hearing, not deaf.
ἐδόξαζον  began  glorifying 
Parse: Verb, Imperfect Indicative Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: δοξάζω  
Sense: to think, suppose, be of opinion.
τὸν  - 
Parse: Article, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
Θεόν  God 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root: θεός  
Sense: a god or goddess, a general name of deities or divinities.
εἶπόν  They  said 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: λέγω  
Sense: to speak, say.
αὐτῷ  to  him 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Dative Masculine 3rd Person Singular
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
Θεωρεῖς  You  see 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 2nd Person Singular
Root: θεωρέω  
Sense: to be a spectator, look at, behold.
ἀδελφέ  brother 
Parse: Noun, Vocative Masculine Singular
Root: ἀδελφός  
Sense: a brother, whether born of the same two parents or only of the same father or mother.
πόσαι  how  many 
Parse: Interrogative / Indefinite Pronoun, Nominative Feminine Plural
Root: πόσος  
Sense: how great.
μυριάδες  myriads 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Plural
Root: μυριάς  
Sense: ten thousand.
εἰσὶν  there  are 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: εἰμί  
Sense: to be, to exist, to happen, to be present.
Ἰουδαίοις  Jews 
Parse: Adjective, Dative Masculine Plural
Root: Ἰουδαῖος  
Sense: Jewish, belonging to the Jewish race.
τῶν  - 
Parse: Article, Genitive Masculine Plural
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
πεπιστευκότων  having  believed 
Parse: Verb, Perfect Participle Active, Genitive Masculine Plural
Root: πιστεύω  
Sense: to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in.
ζηλωταὶ  zealous  ones 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: ζηλωτής  
Sense: one burning with zeal, a zealot.
τοῦ  for  the 
Parse: Article, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
νόμου  law 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: νόμος  
Sense: anything established, anything received by usage, a custom, a law, a command.