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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

He's in the jailhouse now!

Paul, Apostle of Christ (2018) on IMDb

Plot Overview

soldierRome ad 67. Emperor Nero had set Rome on fire and blamed it on the Christians. Their “ring­leader” Paul, Apostle of Christ, is languishing in prison while Christians are the main attraction at the Roman circus. So explains the opening titles. Historian J.M. Roberts confirms that “early Christian tradition said [Paul] was martyred at Rome in a.d. 67” (p. 57). “Rome [brought] down on the Christians the first Roman persecution, as scape­goats for a great fire at Rome in a.d. 64. Legend says that both St Peter and St Paul died in this persecution and many Roman Christians certainly perished horribly in the arena or were burned alive” (p. 63). Entering the thick of things, the physician Luke (Jim Caviezel) visits the apostle Paul (James Faulkner).

citizensThe movie opens with a cloaked man ghosting his way through the night streets of Rome: an undocumented immigrant, we suppose. He passes a Negro slave in chains—they weren't called African-Americans back then (Acts 13:1). He creeps down an alleyway and knocks on a door, to be greeted by Priscilla (Joanne Whaley) in a room full of: “So many people,” he remarks. “Come,” she tells him, “Aquila's inside” (John Lynch). There is a great difference of opinion among them. Some want to quit Rome for a safer place (“Where will we go?”) Others want to stay and minister to the new converts they will make. A small corps of youths wants to revolt—not the style of Jesus, of course. They need the wisdom of Paul, while for now their decisions are being made on an individual basis.

Mamertine Prison, Rome. Luke sneaks in and surprises Paul, “Luke, am I dreaming!” He delivers to him a money bag collected for baksheesh to ease his stay, assuring him there was “no dissenting vote; even the Corinthians” (agreed.) There follow some long circular discussions, Luke's visits being tolerated by Mauritius (Olivier Martinez), the Roman officer in charge of the prison, who is moderately sympathetic. From this is to emerge Luke's book of The Acts of the Apostles.


rsvpLuke advises Paul, “You can inspire their faith just as your letters always have.” Indeed from what we see of the Christian community here, they are specifically living out the response Paul gave to an inquiry from the Corinthians: (1Cor. 7:1) “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me:” First of all Paul had advised them, (1Cor. 3:21-22) “For all things are yours; Whether the world, … or things present, or things to come; all are your's.” Here they did in fact have a “present” worldly sanctuary relatively safe from intrusion, and they had “one to come” should they work out an escape route “to Ephesus; they're more tolerant of us there.” Worldly blessings are theirs for the keeping or taking.

When making their individual decisions whether to go or stay, Aquila wanted to go but his wife Priscilla wanted to leave. He blessed her decision, this per (1Cor. 7:10-11) “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.” Perhaps they can reconcile their views later on, but at least she's not leaving for another man.

There's a widow arrived after the Romans just “killed my husband.” Luke looks after her: “This woman has come to you covered in the blood of her child.” Paul's written advice to the widow is to continue washed in the blood of the lamb, as it were, (1Cor. 7:39) “but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.” Operating “in the Lord” means to proceed as covered by the blood, so to speak—there's a graphic illustration in the movie.

There's the issue of whether to jeopardize the life of an “orphan” by using him as a messenger to Roman families with access to an escape aqueduct. This compares to Paul's written remarks that he'd not jeopardized anybody's sister by marrying her to be used in his some­times dangerous ministry. Paul wrote, (1Cor. 9:5) “Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?” He was using familiar wording from the Old Testament where Abraham's servant led away Rebekah to be Isaac's wife, (Gen. 24:60-61) “And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them. And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.” Paul who was single never­the­less had the option of marrying some­one's sister and leading her away, as well as eating their food (1Cor. 9:4) and receiving a stipend for his ministry (1Cor. 9:6).

The Corinthians as noted earlier allowed for some money to be given to Paul. This was remarked upon because they were known to be carnal (1Cor. 3:1). In the context of that letter their carnality was manifest as bickering. Here now it's a question of being tight-fisted. To expand the application a little further, and to remain within the scope of Paul's answering letter, there is the question of a Christian marrying a non-Christian, perhaps for carnal reasons to some degree. This is most forcibly expressed in this movie by time comparison: Paul's three years in Arabia learning by revelation was likened to the three years the other apostles met with Christ in the flesh (Gal. 1:15-18). It was seven years from the start of Paul's preaching in Corinth to when he wrote his answering letter from Ephesus:

According to Pastor Criswell, The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians.
Date: First Corinthians was written in the spring, probably in 57 a.d., though it could have been as early as 54 a.d. Second Corinthians was written some six months later. In 50 a.d. Paul reached Corinth on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1-4). In an eighteen month stay (Acts 18:9-11) [and then some (Acts 18:18)] a church was established. … He had received questions from the Corinthians (1Cor. 7:1) and wrote the letter known as First Corinthians as an answer to those questions. At the time, Paul was in Ephesus (1Cor. 16:8), near the end of his three-year stay there (Acts 20:31) and before his departure for Macedonia (1Cor. 16:5, Acts 20:1).

Those seven years for the Corinthians to formulate their questions means some­thing. Once for the captive Jews looking at a prolonged captivity, the seventy years ahead of them (Jer. 29:10) meant they were to marry and establish families (Jer. 29:6). Here seven years meant they had time to marry and start families, and especially since they were carnal Christians to begin with, it would often have entailed marrying a nonbeliever. This would especially be the case as “a new Jewish sect (for that was what the earliest followers of Jesus were) came to spread” (Roberts, 56). Nobody hardly knew what Christianity even was, let alone having grown up hoping to marry a Christian.

Christ quoted by visionary Maria Valtorta, 631. The Last Teachings before Ascension-Day: (430)

II In the Mosaic religion matrimony is a contract. In the new Christian religion let it be a sacred indissoluble act, on which may the grace of the Lord descend to make of husband and wife two ministers of His in the propagation of the human race. From the very first moments try to advise the consort belonging to the new religion to convert the consort, who is still out of the number of the believers, to enter and become part of it, to avoid those painful divisions of thought, and consequently of peace, that we have noticed also among our­selves. But when it is a question of believers in the Lord, for no reason what­soever what God united is to be dissolved. And when a consort is Christian and is united to a heathen, / advise that consort to bear his/her cross with patience, meekness and also with strength, to the extent of dying to defend his/her faith, but with­out leaving the consort whom he/she married with full consent. This is My advice for a more perfect life in the matrimonial state, until it will be possible, with the diffusion of Christianity, to have marriages between believers. Then let the bond be sacred and indissoluble, and the love holy.

The apostle Paul looked upon mixed marriage as an occasion for Christian influence on the unbelieving partner, (1Cor. 7:16) “For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” Paul's answer in addressing such questions of the Corinthians appears to have been in the present tense, regarding an existing marriage of a Christian to an unbeliever, but he allows for such influence on an unbeliever to apply to developing composites as well, (1Cor. 3:21-22) “For all things are yours; Whether the world, … or things present, or things to come; all are your's.” At any rate there was inevitable opportunity for mixed marriages to have occurred during those seven years, and Christians marrying non-christians would have been included in the permission given in Paul's answer.

Six months later Paul wrote 2nd Corinthians in which he told them (2Cor. 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ...” referring in its context to corporate worship. Here in this movie the Christians were seen yoked together with an unbelieving Mauritius—you scratch my back & I'll scratch yours—in other matters with Paul's blessing.

In a contemporary persecution of (some) Christians, reminding us of an earlier misguided Saul, good brothers neglecting to read of the seven-year buildup in Acts, treat this subject as if arising from a quickie Billy Graham crusade: People come forward to get saved, but they have an unbelieving spouse at home. They are given the literature of First Corinthians saying the unbelieving spouse is sanctified by the believer. Unmarried people come forward to get saved, perhaps with an upcoming marriage in the offing to an unbeliever. They are given the Second Corinthian letter saying that's forbidden. How­ever as this movie broadens our time frame, it is evident that such mixed marriages are sanctioned no matter when they happen. Thus Paul's wisdom helped the gospel spread through family influence. As Roberts notes, “By the end of the first century a.d. there were Christian congregations all over the Roman world. For all the achieve­ments of Paul and his colleagues, this probably owed less to deliberate evangeli­zation than to contagion and osmosis within Jewish communities of the empire” (63).

Production Values

This partial bio, “” was directed and co-written by Andrew Hyatt; the other writer was Terence Berden. It stars James Faulkner, Jim Caviezel, and André Agius. The acting is first rate. Faulkner, Jim Caviezel, and Olivier Martinez gave some fine, nuanced & layered performances. The small amount of screen time devoted to Paul belies the title. A tall but stoop-shouldered James Faulkner was perhaps miscast as a man whose supposed (2Cor. 10:10) “bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” His speech was suitably feeble, but his stature should have been runty. Jim Caviezel who played Luke this time was in Mel Gibson's “The Passion of the Christ” (2004) where he played Jesus of Nazareth.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for some violent content and disturbing images. It was filmed in Malta a country that's lax towards foreign workers. The scenes filmed there looked very realistic. Some of the dialogue, especially early on, was a bit muffled. The production design and costumes looked authentic. The music was tasteful, a splendid score paired with some careful cinema­tog­raphy. The light level from the screen was uncommonly low; you'll need a strictly darkened room for home viewing.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This movie is a far cry from your typical Bible or 'faith-based' movie. It succeeds as a drama because it doesn't try to be an epic, or a thriller, or a biography per se. Nor does it try to evangelize on the sly. If you're into drama and that's what you want, this is a good one for you.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Better than watching TV. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

The Criswell Study Bible. Authorized King James Version. Nashville | Camden: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1979. Print.

Roberts, J.M. A History of Europe. New York: Penguin Press, 1997. Print.

Valtorta, Maria. 631. The Last Teachings before Ascension-Day. in The Gospel as Revealed to Me. Vol. 5. Translated from Italian by Nicandro Picozzi, M.A., D.D.  Revised by Patrick McLaughlin, M.A. This 2nd English Edition has now replaced the First English Edition, The Poem of the Man-God. WEB.