Romans 13:3 (ESV) … “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval …”
God has established three institutions: the home (Gen. 2:18–25), government (Gen. 9:1–17), and the church (Acts 2). Paul was writing to believers at the very heart of the Roman Empire. As yet, the great persecutions had not started, but were on the way.
Christianity was still considered a Jewish sect, and the Jewish religion was approved by Rome. But the day would come when it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for a Christian to be loyal to the emperor. He could not drop incense on the altar and affirm, “Caesar is god!”
In our own day, we have people who teach riot and rebellion in the name of Christ! They would have us believe that the Christian thing to do is to disobey the law, rebel against the authorities, and permit every man to do that which is right in his own eyes. Paul refutes this position in this verse and chapter by explaining why the Christian must be in subjection to the laws of the State.
Paul’s admonition to a Christian citizen is that we ought to be the best citizen. Christians may not always agree on politics or parties, but they can all agree on their attitude toward human government.