The biblical idea of government involves ruling, and ruling involves rules, laws and/or principles. All ruling involves decision-making on the basis of some standard for judgment, and the story of the Bible is the story of the establishment of a universal standard—Jesus Christ. Government is about rules, standards, principles, authority and submission.
In the contemporary world we have confused ourselves by thinking that the central concern about authority lies with the highest authority. And because we are so unsubmissive to authority, we think that all authority must use the highest authority because our resistance will cause us to appeal it to the highest authority. So, as a matter of expediency and practicality we begin with the highest authority in order to stave off the inevitable appeals. But this approach has proven to be very harmful because it tends to destroy all of the mediating authorities. And without mediating authorities we must all deal with the highest authority. It’s like drinking from a fire hose. Thus, the contemporary world finds that government tends toward totalitarianism.
(from In Christ, the church at Ephesus, forthcoming)