The Christian and the Government
Paul's instructions in Romans 13 are remarkable in light of the government they lived under. As long as the Christians were a Jewish sect, (see Acts 24:14) they had some "legal protection", since the Romans recognized and allowed for the practice of Judaism. If, however, they were not viewed as a sect of Judaism, then they became an outlaw religion. The context seems remarkably similar to the one Christians today face here in China.
One of the troubling aspects of this passage is its lack of conditions. Paul doesn't seem to make allowances for civil disobedience. He asserts that governments "have been placed in power by God", with the implication that they are answerable to God.
I believe that Paul intended this letter to be a public document. He is not being coy, insincere or tongue in cheek, but he is also aware that it may well be read by government authorities. He is careful to honor the government and instructs the Christians to obey and honor their government. There may be conditions under which a Christian must disobey the government in order to obey God, but Paul does not mention any such cases here.