Read Romans 13
Focus on verse 1-2
Where does authority come from? A policeman has authority over a citizen because it is given to him by the state. The authority of the state in some places rests with a dictator or in others with an elected president or prime minister, but where does the dictator’s authority come from? Where does the prime ministers authority come from? In the case of the dictator it may come from the army of armed men he pays to enforce his will on the people he rules. In the case of the democracy the authority presumably comes from the people who elected the official who is then entrusted with leading the nation.
In today’s reading Paul suggests that there is a higher authority – that, in fact all authority, is ultimately given to us by God.
For there is not authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (v. 1b-2)
This concept is also supported by the statement that Jesus makes to Pontius Pilot when He is being interrogated. Pilot suggests that he has the authority to either release Jesus or sentence Him to death. Jesus responds to Pilot stating that any authority he has is only his because God gave it to him. (John 19:10-11)
If Paul is correct in his assessment of where authority comes from, then it is also true that if we disobey the governing authorities that God has placed over us, we are in effect disobeying God. The one exception to that would be when the governing authorities mandate us to act contrary to what God clearly has mandated in His word to us. Even in this situation, however, if we choose to refuse to obey the governing authority, we should then also be willing to accept whatever consequences our disobedience would bring.
This is also a grim reminder to those to whom authority has been entrusted that they will be held accountable before God regarding the way in which they have used or misused the authority God has entrusted to them