This is a pretty unpopular passage. Submission to authority goes against everything inside of us, but obedience to God is always 100% the best path. It feels upside down, but it’s because we are upside down.
One of the hottest topics in America right now is how horrible our Presidential candidate choices are. It’s important to understand, Paul’s context at the time was a political situation far worse than our own. By all accounts, it seems right to rebel against The Man, but Paul says this not the Highest Way.
We are citizens of a Heavenly Kingdom and everything else is temporary. God raises and tumbles Empires and knows what He’s doing in each seemingly out of control situation. The heinous acts currently going down in Syria, ISIS aside, has resulted in the relocation of people who have never been able to hear the gospel, into places where they can know it. And Syrians are becoming Christians at a historical rate. This is just a guess at what God’s good plan could be, although I could never attempt to fully know it because it’s SO GOOD.
Do I trust that?
Paul rounds out the chapter with a reminder to LOVE. Continually as an outstanding debt. If we love the way Christ teaches us to love, all the other stuff will come naturally.
What does it look like to love the authorities in place above us? According to Paul it would be patience and kindness. Not envying or boasting, not proud or rude, not self seeking and keeping records of wrong. Not enjoying evil, but rejoicing in truth, always forgiving, protecting, trusting and persevering. Never failing.
This is the most profound concept in history, but it sure takes faith. How would things change for you if you tried loving those in authority?