On Good Friday, my brother and I went to see the new movie Paul, Apostle of Christ. I had wanted to see it since it coincided with us finishing up our study of Acts and the end of Paul’s life the upcoming Sunday in church. I was interested in seeing how accurate it was going to be, and, honestly, my expectations were not very high. As I’m sure you know, Hollywood doesn’t exactly have the best track record in producing Biblically accurate movies (see Russell Crowe’s Noah, for example). To my surprise, however, I thought Paul, Apostle of Christ was astonishingly accurate, with a few minor exceptions, which I will address. But I did appreciate the consideration for Biblical accuracy. I will also discuss what I did like and what I did not. (Potential spoilers!)
First, I liked that it was well-made with good acting, and excellent production value, in my opinion. Despite having a relatively small budget, they managed to construct a believable first century Rome. We saw tender moments, conflict and conflict resolution both between individuals and among groups, and emotional, gut-wrenching moments. When the movie ended, no one in the theatre moved. It was that powerful.
I did not like the few (relatively minor) Scriptural/chronological inaccuracies that I noticed.
- The first is that the setting of the movie had Luke writing Acts during Paul’s second imprisonment, when I believe the evidence favors Luke writing it during his first.
- The movie script has Paul saying, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” To which Luke responds, “That’s brilliant!” Then Paul urges him to “write it down.” You’ll recognize the quote from Philippians 1:21, which Paul had written from Rome during his first imprisonment with the pen of Epaphroditus – not Luke (according to an endnote in the KJV). It was already written down.
- Near the end of the movie, as Paul is about to be beheaded, Luke is portrayed giving Paul’s last letter, 2 Timothy, to Aquila for him to deliver to Timothy. However, it’s unlikely that Aquila delivered the letter to Timothy, since Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:19, “Salute…Aquila.” So Aquila was probably already with Timothy, rather than delivering the letter to him.