Before we can understand Paul’s teaching about submission, we must answer a basic question: who are the civil authorities that he is writing about? I believe that Paul is only referring to judges. His teaching about submission does not apply to other political powers. There are several reasons why this is true.
The essential key to understanding Paul’s message about civil authority is in Romans 13:1, where he writes,
He was referring back Deut 19:17, for which a literal translation refers to “the judges which shall be in those days.” This link has been missed because we do not love the law and have tended to ignore it. When Paul says that the “authorities that be” have been established by God, he is speaking about judges like those that existed in Moses' time. He is not talking about politicians, parliaments, emperors or presidents.
The authorities that be have been established by God
This is an extremely important principle. We are only required to submit to righteous judges. Romans 13 does not give a blanket authority to political power in all its forms, Paul is simply confirming the Old Testament principle that government by judges is the best way. This is the system of government that has been established by God.