The Bible opens with High Priest Caiaphas plotting Jesus’ death through Pontius Pilate. He is then brought before the public at the temple, where his death sentence is announced. Judas sees this and throws his silver at the guard before running away. The guard recognizes Peter standing there and questions him. Peter denies knowing Jesus three times before the rooster crows. An emotional Peter starts weeping.
Meanwhile, a guilt-ridden Judas leaves the city and hangs himself while Pilate’s wife wakes up from a nightmare in hysterics over an innocent man being murdered. She tells Pilate that it’s a warning and that in the dream, he killed him.
Later that morning, Caiaphas goes before Pilate and asks that he carry out a death sentence. They explain that the Sanhedrin can’t kill Jesus during the Passover and that he’s a threat to Pilate.
Jesus is brought before Pilate for questioning. Jesus tells Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world. He states that he has born into the world to testify to the truth. Pilate gives his famous reply, “Truth? What is truth?” Pilate’s wife sees Jesus and tells him that Jesus is the man she saw in her dream. She states that he can’t kill this man, but Pilate warns her that Caiaphas will blame him, and then he would be finished.
Pilate speaks with Caiaphas. He finds no fault with Jesus and orders him to receive 40 lashes. Caiaphas argues that the priests can’t be held responsible for how the Jewish people respond to Jesus being released. Pilate notes that the law allows for one person to be released over Passover and orders that the people choose whether or not Jesus is freed.
Pilate presides over the vote between Barabbas the criminal and Jesus. The Jews choose Barabbas, who is freed. The people then call for Jesus to be crucified. Pilate is mystified by the people’s desire to crucify Jesus while sparing Barabbas. Pilate literally washes his hands of Jesus’ death.
Jesus carries his cross to Golgotha. Satan looks on as Jesus is beaten and mocked during his journey. It soon becomes apparent to the Roman guards that Jesus is no longer able to carry his cross alone, and they force Simon to help carry it.
Meanwhile, Pilate gives instructions for the inscription on Jesus’ tomb. He orders it to read “The King of the Jews.” Caiaphas protests, but Pilate stands his ground.
Later, Jesus finishes his journey towards Golgotha as Caiaphas overseas the Passover sacrifices. He’s stripped of his clothing and whipped as the Roman guards nail him to the cross. The guards then raise his cross. Jesus cries out “Father, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” while the guards continue to mock him and cast lots for his clothes.
Soon, the two thieves who are being crucified alongside him speak. The first thief questions Jesus. “Aren’t you the Messiah?” the thief asks. “Why don’t you save yourself and us?” However, the second thief intervenes and states that Jesus did nothing wrong. The second thief asks that Jesus remember him when he enters his kingdom. Jesus replies that the thief will be in paradise with him.
In the temple, Caiaphas sings while a guilty Peter weeps. Storm clouds roll in as Jesus says, “It’s finished.” The earth begins to shake and the temple veil tears down the middle. “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit,” Jesus says as he dies.
The earthquake shakes the entire city and sends the people scrambling for cover. The first hour of the episode ends with Jesus being pierced in his side to prove that he is dead.
Jesus is taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb provided by Nicodemus, who also oversees the burial.
Three days later, Peter is questioned by John and admits that he failed Jesus. Meanwhile, Mary Magdalene goes back to Jesus’ tomb to prepare his body and finds that Jesus is no longer there. Jesus appears in the doorway of the tomb and tells Mary to tell the disciples that he is alive. Mary obeys him, but is met with doubt. Peter looks at the tomb himself and states his belief that Jesus is back.
Peter reports back to the other disciples that Jesus is alive and observes communion. At that point, Jesus enters the room. Thomas doubts what he is seeing as Jesus walks around the table. He tells Thomas to stop doubting and puts his hands on the disciple’s face.
Forty days later, Jesus prophesizes the arrival of the Holy Spirit and ascends into heaven. Peter takes the lead and tells the disciples that they have work to do.
At the Festival of Pentecost, Stephen arrives in Jerusalem and is greeted by the disciples. Peter leads them in the Lord’s Prayer as the Holy Spirit descends upon the room. The disciples suddenly begin speaking in different languages as a powerful wind in the city leaves the people outside of the building wonder what is going on.
Peter then heals a beggar in the name of Jesus in front of the city. Peter preaches that it’s Jesus’ power that did this. Caiaphas hears the commotion and has the disciples and the beggar brought before him.
Caiaphas asks them why they are praying in the name of a dead man. Peter replies that Jesus is alive. He states that the beggar walks because of the power of Jesus Christ. Caiaphas tells the disciples that they are not allowed to speak of the beggar or of Jesus Christ from that day forward. Caiaphas threatens them with death, but the disciples ignore him.
Stephen, in particular, keeps preaching about Jesus, but he’s confronted by a group of people led by Paul of Tarsus, who stone him to death. Stephen preaches as he dies.
Later, Paul meets with Caiaphas who questions him about Stephen’s stoning. Caiaphas gives Paul the resources to persecute the Christians. He leads a raid on some Christians who are enjoying a meal together. Paul then tortures one of them into telling him where the rest of the group is located. The man tells him that they are in Damascus.
Paul begins his journey to Damascus, but he encounters Jesus on the roadside. He is left blinded by his meeting. Meanwhile, Jesus appears before Ananias and tells him to find Paul. He obeys Jesus and goes to a broken Paul. Ananias heals and baptizes Paul in the name of Jesus Christ.
Despite Paul’s conversion, the persecution of Christians continues. The disciples decide that it’s time for them to leave Jerusalem after James is captured and killed by the authorities.
The disciples spread across the region. However, Paul continues to face struggles due his prior persecution of Christians. He eventually wins the people over by preaching about God’s love. Luke is among the people Paul meets on his journey. He decides to journey with Paul.
Finally, Peter encounters Jesus just as Roman guards enter his home. It turns out that a centurion named Cornelius has called for him. Cornelius asks to be saved, and Peter baptizes him in the name of Jesus.
Twenty years later, Peter preaches to prisoners in a new kingdom and is beaten for his trouble. Meanwhile, a suffering Paul dictates his letters to Luke, who takes them to the world. The narrator notes that all of the apostles were killed, including Peter and Paul.
John is exiled to the island of Patmos, where he encounters Jesus and writes the final book of the Bible – Revelation.
There are a lot of things to like about the final episode of “The Bible.” Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection was well-done, as was the Day of Pentecost. Furthermore, the episode featured an outstanding look into the heroic deaths of the apostles. The show’s producers did an excellent job showing how their deaths created hope for the future.
However, there were multiple inaccuracies in the episode, including Herod’s complete omission from Jesus’ trial and the naming of Paul. Saul of Tarsus was one of the most well-known persecutors of Christians in the Bible, and God changed his name to Paul soon after he began is life as an apostle.
The Bible doesn’t say why Saul’s name was changed to Paul, but it’s important to note that when God re-names someone, it reflects an important change in that person’s life. That’s why Saul going by Paul from the beginning is so problematic. The name Paul has special significance in the New Testament, and it was misrepresented by the History Channel. It’s an inexcusable mistake for a show that is called “The Bible”
Still, the story did a good enough job, and the production deserves some credit for putting together a stirring ending to the series. Unfortunately, I can’t get past how big of a mistake the History Channel made here. “The Bible” made a huge mistake portraying Saul as Paul from the beginning.