"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer" (Romans 13:1-4).
Paul’s teaching in Romans 13:1-4 regarding Christian submission to government must be seen in light of the whole of the Bible’s teaching. The Bible says that believers are to be in submission to civil government, but also those who govern are to be in submission to God (c.f. Psalm 2, Daniel 4:34-35). No government can say it rose to power on its own (c.f. John 19:11). God has established governing authorities to reward those who do good and to be an “avenger” upon those who do evil. Biblically there is no double standard for good and evil. All nations must honor God’s law or be brought to an end. (Daniel 2:31-35).
The Bible is clear that the magistrate is not free to create and enforce his own arbitrary set of laws to serve his own ignoble ends (c.f. Isaiah 5:20). To do so would be a license for tyranny, something Jesus opposed (c.f. Luke 22:25-26). As a “minister of God,” the civil government is charged with upholding God’s justice, not man’s quest for totalitarian control over others. Nations that throw off God’s law face severe punishment. The blessings and curses that relate to the Law given to Israel apply equally to all nations of the world (c.f. Psalm 82:7).
Therefore, Paul is not giving carte blanche to all governmental actions. Rather, he is pointing to God’s intended design for government. He is mainly concerned with submission to the principle of authority – the function that God has appointed the magistrate to fulfill.
Gary DeMar writes, “Paul is describing what a ruler’s proper function is. The apostle is not making a moral judgment about any particular ruler or political party. Rather, his words describe what civil governments ought to be and ought to do."
The context of Romans 13 reveals that there is no basis to conclude that Paul was encouraging Christians to submit to political oppression. His main concern is submission to the principle of authority as it comes from God.