Movie Review: ‘Paul, Apostle of Christ’

Paul, Apostle of Christ poster.jpg

We watched this on Amazon Prime yesterday, where you can rent it: Paul, Apostle of Christ (2018). It’s not for the faint-hearted.

Beautifully filmed and acted, this tells the story of Paul’s life, in flashbacks, against the grim background of Nero’s persecution of Christians in Rome. James Faulker, who played Herod Agrippa in I, Claudius, plays Paul–in a Roman prison, awaiting execution. Jim Caviezel is Luke, writing the Book of Acts under Paul’s guidance. Joanne Whalley and John Lynch are Priscilla and Aquila, trying to hold together the city’s Christian community.

There are in the world today places where Christians are brutally persecuted, as they were in Nero’s Rome. And yet those are the places where faith in Christ is growing.

I’m not going to write a long review here, Paul is well worth seeing for yourselves. I just want to note that, as someone who has lived his whole life in a place where, by the providence of God, neither war nor civil strife has touched for centuries, such scenes are strange and terrifying to me. I have never seen anyone beaten on the streets, publicly hanged, herded off to a gulag. I know these things have happened many times in history. I know they happen now.

But on an emotional level, I don’t want to believe that persecution, of the kind that Paul and Luke knew, can be a fact of life. I don’t want to believe it. I don’t want the world to be like that, even though I know it is. God help us peace-loving American Christians, if we ever have to confront anything worse than snarky comments and hate-contorted faces.

For thy sake, Lord, we are slaughtered like sheep…

And yet by you we are more than conquerors.

That’s what Paul said (Romans 8:36-37).

And he taught himself, and us, that only love, filled by God’s grace and the love of Jesus Christ, can survive a fallen world.

7 comments on “Movie Review: ‘Paul, Apostle of Christ’

  1. Thank you for this, Lee. Since I happen to have Amazon Prime – minus Alexa! – I may be able to stream it free. Think I’ll check it out before the week of many doctors etc. begins again. Ugh!

  2. Lee,
    The movie was full of historical, logical, and biblical errors. An example of each:
    -Historical: Mamertine was a prison that permitted visitors since no supplies were given to prisoners sentenced to death. Therefore it would not have been suspicious for Luke to visit Paul.
    -Logical: Burning humans smell. Therefore they would not have been lit up at random in enclosed areas with lots of traffic. History tells us they were coated in pitch to light up Nero’s evening chariot races.
    -Biblical: Paul killed no one. It was against Roman law for him to take a life. He did not bash heads against hard surfaces or kill children. He was authorized to imprison and bring them to trial. Remember Paul said he was blameless before the Law. That means he did not run around murdering children.

    The thorough research that was evident in Gibson’s Passion was not evident in this film. My wife and I were very disappointed to see such errors and the weak characters who continually doubted God knew what he was doing.

    1. Those are valid criticisms.
      To this or that degree they apply to every “Bible movie,” which is why no one should use a movie or a novel as a substitute for Scripture.

    2. It’s a guarantee that any movie based on real life events is never going to be 100% accurate. But then it’s a movie for entertainment, not a documentary.

    3. Scriptwriters make changes in the story for a variety of reasons–added clarity, the logistics of filming, production costs, etc. Some can’t be avoided. Some are inexplicable. I thought the changes made in “Paul” didn’t detract from the film’s message.

  3. I have always seen that the Biblical movies have errors, they take liberties, I guess, to make the story more exciting, or whatever. Although, I have usually found something worthwhile in them, at the same time some things that are annoying.

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