To be under the authority of God is to be under the authority of those God has placed in authority over you.
This applies across the board; in The Church, in marriage, and now we see this in our conduct under the government of men.
This last point may seem contrary to Godliness, since governments are so often comprised of wicked men seeking vain-glory and power.
Yet the Word of God is here teaching us there is no government of men, (no matter how evil,) which has not been established by God – and further cannot continue to exist apart from God’s preservation.
This brings a lot of controversy to mind, especially pertaining to the many heartlessly cruel despots which have ruled in this world at various times in history. How can we understand this?
Paul was not writing this instruction in a vacuum. (Peter was writing very similar things about submission to government in the same times.) It helps us to know this was written during the rule of a madman by the name of Nero, who would in fact eventually put both Paul and Peter to death.
The point, I think, is what our conduct in The Church produces – especially when under the rule of a despot. It has been well-said the Light shines brighter in the darkness. It is also historically true The Church has grown and flourished under persecution.
And it is in looking forward The Church does its best good for the world. We say all the time, “There are NO political solutions – only Spiritual ones.” To change someone’s mind their heart must be changed first, and enduring suffering patiently is one of the ways the heart of man is best-drawn to Christ.
Another thought is this: People receive the government they deserve. (God knows the people, and He knows how to give them what they are asking for when they are asking for that which would separate themselves from God.)
Example: When the nation of Judah longed for idols, God allowed them to be exiled to Babylon, which was the center of idolatry in the known world. In Babylon, the people got their fill of idolatry, and it was never a problem for Israel again when they were re-capitulated miraculously after their 70-year period of exile.
But the real point is this: We can exist and even flourish with the understanding Jesus Himself is coming soon and very soon to rule and reign over the whole earth. In the meantime, our conduct in waiting on Him purifies The Church, which in turn draws the lost.