Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
Although Christians’ main citizenship and allegiance is to the Kingdom of God, the apostle Paul makes clear that we are to be respectful and obedient to our nation’s requirements unless they are in contradiction to God’s Word (Acts 4:19). God allows all authority that exists, even though human leaders who do not have His Holy Spirit to guide them will always fail to live up to the standards of leadership He has set. It is not for Christians to resist the authorities, but to leave their fate in the hands of God.
As David fled from King Saul (who was trying to kill him for no reason), he explained why he would not kill his enemy: “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed” (1 Samuel 24:6). God eventually gave David the kingdom, but He did not want David to take it for himself, even though Saul had disqualified himself. King David himself fell short of God’s perfect standard for rulership—which will be established by Christ when He rules as King of Kings on earth.
It’s interesting to note that the Roman leader at the time Paul wrote Romans 13 was the evil Emperor Nero. Still Paul admonished Christians to submit to the authority of the Roman government.
Living under imperfect human governments helps us to long even more for the perfect government of God. For more about this, see our section on “The Kingdom of God.”