In Romans 13:1, Paul uses the word “exousia”, which is often translated as “authority”. I have argued that he was referring to judges. Why he did not use the Greek word “krites”, which can also mean judge?
The answer to this conundrum is obvious from the book of Acts. The word “krites” was used quite frequently in the Roman Empire. Gallio was the Roman proconsul of Achaia when a group of Jews brought Paul before his court. Gallio said,
Settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things (Acts 18:15).Paul used the same word when he appeared before Felix the governor (hegemon) at Caesarea.
When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: "I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense (Acts 24:10).Paul could not use the word “krites” when writing this letter to the Romans, because they would have assumed that he was referring to governors and proconsuls. This was exactly the opposite of his message, so he chose to avoid the word “krites” and used the word "exousia" instead. To make his target clear, he qualified the word "exousia" with the adjective “excellent” and made the link to Deuteronomy with the expression “judges that are”.
Paul was advocating government by judges interpreting the law of God.