Review of Paul: The Apostle

What are my thoughts on this movie? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Warning! Possible spoilers ahead!

So last night, my in-laws took Allie and I with them to see this movie. As far as Biblical movies go, I actually thought this one was very well done. I cannot really comment on the acting and such because I really just don’t normally notice that kind of thing. I pay more attention to the story.

The story is set in Rome with Paul being held as a prisoner and Luke coming to see him and staying with the Christians in the area. They are often hiding because Rome wants to kill them, especially since this is set at the time of the fire of Rome which Nero was more than happy to blame on the Christians. Christians were regularly lit on fire to provide light for Nero’s games and for any other events he had going on.

Luke meets up with Paul and encourages him to tell his story in an account, which will be the book of Acts. My question at this point is why is it that if this was meant to be Paul’s story that Luke would include so much information at the start that is not about Paul? This is a question that scholars will be debating on why Luke wrote what he wrote. Still, that is a bit nit-picky, but it’s just something I wonder.

Paul will regularly then recount events that happened prior to his coming to Rome and being a prisoner. You can see events like the stoning of Stephen and the road to Damascus. Sadly, there wasn’t much beyond that. It would be fascinating to see Paul at Mars Hill or in Ephesus casting out demons opposite the failed exorcists there or in the Philippian jail cell or in the raging ocean of Acts 27. Perhaps a fuller movie will come out sometime.

Luke also deals with the Christians in Rome who often have different attitudes with what to do. Some Christians want to take up arms and fight against Rome themselves. Some want to flee the city thinking there’s more good to be done outside. Some want to stay in the city thinking that they can still stay inside.

At this point, I find another problem I have as each person decides to do what they think God is revealing to them to do. This is common terminology in modern Christian circles today, but I don’t think it’s the way the ancients thought. It’s more of our individualism seeping through.¬† I always get bothered when I see something like this in a Biblical film.

The other major character is a Roman soldier who has a sick daughter and the struggles he and his wife have as the gods seem to be silent and each blames the other. This is the same soldier who also has to regularly deal with Paul. It is quite interesting how it all turns out. I leave it to you to go and see it for yourself.

Many times, Paul and Luke and others do quote Scriptural passages in the film. If you have a good Biblical knowledge, you’ll be able to recognize a number of them. Paul is seen as someone who is willing to suffer for Christ greatly. A great theme in the movie is that suffering is temporary. Eternal joy awaits instead.

Biblical movies have normally been a miss for me, but I think after Risen and now with this one, we’re getting more of a step in the right direction. I’m also thankful that a lot of the sappiness of Christian films was left out of this one. There is much suffering in the film and it should be clear to all that the Christian walk never promises freedom from it.

So yeah, I recommend going to see this one. It is an enjoyable film.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

For Christians Seeing Movies

What should we consider when we see a film? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife and I have some dinner and a movie gift cards, so today we’re going to go see the new Star Wars movie and then go out for a dinner. Some of you might be surprised to learn I’m not really much of a Star Wars fan. I know the basic story, but that’s about it. We went to see Episode VII because my wife wanted to and that’s the same reason we’re seeing VIII.

So I wanted to give some advice about seeing movies. I’m not going to talk about the usual things you might expect such as sex and violence and profanity and the like. That has been said over and over. What I am saying will apply to not just movies, but to books and most any other form of media as well.

When I was a student at a Seminary, we had a professor who really loved movies and wanted to start discussions based on movies. One night at the seminary all students who wanted were invited to watch The Truman Show. I had never seen it and it was a free movie so I decided to go along.

When the movie ended, the professor came out to ask us what we thought and also to talk about the messages that we saw in the movie. Naturally, this is a room full of Christians and I have no doubt many of them wanted to impress the professor and their peers with how insightful they were. I was off sitting more by my self, but I saw student after student speak up and talk about how X was a symbol of Christ.

It’s understandable. In some ways, I think Christ figures are unavoidable in movies. Christ is the ultimate hero after all and the ultimate example of self-sacrifice. What we have to ask is if that was really what was in mind.

This gets down to how to approach any work of media in the world. When someone goes to see the new Star Wars movie, they could see images that remind them of Jesus. That doesn’t mean that that was in the mind of the producer necessarily and even if it was, it doesn’t mean that the producer of the film is trying to give a Christian message.

When you see a work in the media, try to interpret it based on what you think the author is really trying to convey first. Be honest with the work. If the author is not a Christian, he’s quite likely not trying to convey a Christian message. We would not want someone to watch The Chronicles of Narnia and try to find a Buddhist message in it. We know Lewis is talking about Jesus in it.

Also, keep in mind you can enjoy the movie. Just because a movie or a book is by a non-Christian doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it, and even still you can find some glimpses of the truest story of all in there, even if they are not really intended by the author. If the Gospel is what our hearts really long for, it will come out eventually.

If you’re going to see the new film today, have fun and enjoy it, but don’t try to turn a non-Christian film into a Christian masterpiece. Treat the work fairly.

In Christ,
Nick Peters