One of the main alternatives to the pacifist reading of Jesus’ command to “not resist an evildoer” is Robert Guelich’s interpretation, which puts the command in the context of litigation. In my reading, both Oliver O’Donovan and Craig Blomberg have appealed to this interpretation. This has the effect of eliminating any relevance this command might have to a (potentially) Christian magistrate in their occupation.
But this interpretation ultimately fails, I think; Richard B. Hays has this (among other things) to say:
(3) The larger argument falls apart if verses 41-42 cannot be integrated into the theory about forgoing legal defense. Guelich is forced to acknowledge that these illustrations (going the second mile and giving to all who ask) have nothing to do with his construal of 5:39. He can only say of the illustrations that “their presence here is… indicative of Matthew’s faithful use of tradition even when only tangentially related to his primary redactional intention.” If that can be said of verses 41-42, however, why not of verse 39 also? A reading of Matthew’s redactional intention, in order to be persuasive, must account for all the material that is present in the text.
In fact, the loosely connected sayings of verses 39-42 all serve as illustrations of the peaceloving and generous character that the teaching of Jesus seeks to inculcate. Jesus’ disciples are to relinquish the tit-for-tat ethic of the lex talionis and live in a way that eschews retaliation and defense of self-interest… .
The teaching of Matthew 3:39, then, is about nonviolence, even though the passage as a whole has a larger vision of the kingdom of God in view. The admonition not to strike back is one of several “focus instances” that figuratively depict the Matthean vision for the community of discipleship. It is not simply a rule prohibiting a certain action; rather, it is a symbolic pointer to the character of the peaceful city set on a hill.
[Richard B. Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament, 326]