Paul, Apostle of Christ

Movie review by
Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media
Paul, Apostle of Christ Movie Poster Image
Biblical drama has bloody violence, lacks depth.
  • PG-13
  • 2018
  • 108 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 23 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Persistence, perseverance, and fidelity to your beliefs are themes. Compassion and nonviolence are spoken of highly.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The most positive role model is Priscilla, who steadfastly advocates for nonviolence and the welfare of the poor and needy, such as orphans. Others, such as her husband, Aquila, also advocate nonviolence. Paul famously began as a persecutor of Christians and later turned away from violence.


Lots of violence, much of it quite bloody, as the Romans persecute the Christians. Much occurs offscreen, though the results are shown in detail and there's audible suffering. Children are beaten to death, people are burned to death in public, and Christians -- including women and children -- are sent to be murdered for amusement in Nero's "circus."


There's a scene at a brothel, but nothing suggestive is shown, and no sex acts are discussed.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some wine drinking, but never to excess.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Paul, Apostle of Christ is a faith-based drama centering on the titular Biblical figure. It's very violent, with an emphasis on brutality. Much of it is implied rather than shown directly, including repeated visual references to the murder of an unarmed child and the marching off to execution of women and children for a crowd's amusement. But the results/evidence of the violence are shown in detail: There's lots of spilled blood, and wounds are shown. Romans brutalize Christians, including burning them to death -- burned bodies are shown, and victims screams in agony. Rebels also stab Romans. Other than the violence, iffy content is virtually nonexistent; a scene takes place in a brothel, but nothing graphic is shown, and while characters do drink wine, it's never to excess. Messages include persistence, perseverance, and fidelity to your beliefs.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMark S. March 27, 2018

Fails on so many levels including Bible theology

This movie fails where it ought to shine, namely, in the theology. This mythical Paul isn't what the scriptural Paul was, namely a positive advocate of Chr... Continue reading
Adult Written byLiesel 01 August 26, 2018

Paul Apostle of Christ

The violence at the beginning of the movie, might be a bit too much for children under under 13. However the rest is a beautiful portrayal of Paul's life... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byCormac M May 29, 2018

Violent but insightful look at the lives of early Christians

I saw this film during Lent of 2018 and I thought it was amazing. It takes the viewer back to the 1st Century A. D. and provides a very moving look at how early... Continue reading

What's the story?

PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST finds the New Testament figure (James Faulkner) aged and imprisoned by the Romans. His friend, the physician Luke (Jim Caveizel), visits Paul to write his story, which would eventually become part of the Bible's Luke-Acts. The Roman Mauritius (Olivier Martinez), who oversees the prison, worries about the declining health of his own daughter. Meanwhile, two peaceful leaders (John Lynch, Joanne Whalley) of the brutally persecuted Christian community that Paul helped found in Rome work to get their followers out of the increasingly dangerous city before a splinter group commits retaliatory acts of violence.

Is it any good?

By attempting to create a suspenseful plot and in highlighting bloody religious persecution, this Biblical drama pays short shrift to its own subject. Viewers come in late to the story of the titular Paul, Apostle of Christ. He's essentially a supporting character whose previous life as a killer of Christians is conveyed in brief, unenlightening flashbacks. Per the Bible story, he's struck blind by God, then opens his eyes to a new life as a Christian proselyte. The filmmakers don't get into the human reasons for that choice, instead presenting the semi-parallel story of jailer Maritius (Martinez) and the possibility of his own eventual change. Like that wellspring of modern Biblical films, The Passion of the Christ, Paul focuses more on brutality than redemption. It's quite a cinematically accomplished endeavor: The production design, costumes, and cinematography are all beautifully executed. And it boasts a veteran cast, with Martinez compelling as the only character who undergoes anything like a transformation.

The film's faith-based perspective is clear -- "We're the only light left in this city," says a Christian leader; praying to non-Christian gods won't save a child, but a Christian doctor might -- which is fine. The question is, exactly what story does it mean to tell? The best of practical Christian values are celebrated -- charity, nonviolence, compassion -- but the dirty work of coming to those beliefs after being steeped in other methods is glossed over. The deep darkness of Paul's past is only alluded to via bloody memories; what allowed him to behave that way? The Bible's heavy-handed device for changing his heart is hardly the most dramatic storytelling choice. And the ticking clock on the Christians' escape from Rome feels put on, not moored to anything. Paul is a beautifully executed re-imagining of the Bible story, but it lacks real insight into human behavior.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the messages of Paul, Apostle of Christ. Is a specific religious message conveyed on-screen? A more general one? Did you recognize the themes of perseverance and compassion?

  • How does the violence in this movie compare to what you might see in an action film? Which has a greater impact on you? Why do you think that is?

  • The film is named for a major New Testament figure, Paul/Saul of Tarsus/Paul of Taron. Considering the film's structure and emphasis, what do you think of the title? What did you learn about Paul? What's your impression of his life?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

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Themes & Topics

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