Dr Rayburn says this about the first portion of Romans 13......
Let’s sum up: 1) Paul does not mean that Christians are to do what the government commands if it commands that which God forbids; 2) but clearly the government has a role that the individual does not have and Christians are obliged to respect that role and honor that government as instituted of God; and 3) obedience is required even of those governments that are overtly hostile to the Christian faith and way of life unless and until it orders the violation of God’s law. Even then Christians are not to resist violently but to suffer as an act of reverence for God and his law and to leave the outcome to God.
Take heed. Get this clear in your minds. You may feel this is not particularly relevant to your daily life. Who is to say what will be relevant weeks, months or years from now? This is our watchword and it will be, I fear, more and more as it has been in ages past. It is by obedience to these instructions of Paul that faithful Christians have lived from the beginning and it is by this same obedience that they have remained and prospered in a hostile world in which governments, however owing their origin to the Almighty enthusiastically did and do the will of the Devil. It is today in many places in this world as it was in days gone by, Christians proving themselves the most loyal of citizens even as their governments mistreat and kill them. As Augustine reminds us, the church won the Roman world not by fighting but by suffering and in their suffering proving that there was a higher law and a greater loyalty and a much more wonderful love than anything known in the Roman world.
The last section of Romans 13 also stood out to me today. We are to love people, we are to fight the sin in our lives, and in doing so the way we live our lives will stand out as being different from the way everyone else lives - knowing we can only do this in His strength, not our own.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: 2 Chronicles 10-12, Romans 14