This 1981 motion picture follows in the footsteps of the first Christians, led by Peter and Paul, during three decades of evangelizing in the Mediterranean region. The 195-minute version of the original TV miniseries begins in Jerusalem four years after the death of Jesus Christ when Stephen, a disciple of the new religion, dies by stoning after Jews find him guilty of blasphemy. Among the Jewish accusers is Paul of Tarsus (Anthony Hopkins), a leader in the campaign against the Christians. However, when he reaches down for a stone to throw, he hesitates while other Jews carry out the sentence. Later, on his way to Damascus to root out Christians there, he is thrown from his horse. When he looks up, he sees a bright light and hears a voice -- the voice of the Christian God -- reproaching him for his persecution of the Jews. Paul then converts to Christianity and preaches on its behalf in Damascus, where authorities flog and jail him. He escapes and returns to Jerusalem. There, another Christian, Barnabas (Herbert Lom), introduces him to Peter (Robert Foxworth). At first, Peter suspects Paul is a spy. But after Paul persuades him that he has truly converted, the two men unite in their efforts to win souls to Christ. While Peter remains behind to labor in Jerusalem and other parts of Judea, then a Roman province, Paul goes north to preach in Antioch, Perga, Lystra, and other cities. However, because he converts Gentiles without requiring them to accept Jewish religious law and traditions, the Jerusalem branch of Christianity chastises him. Later, when Peter and others meet with Paul to strike a compromise, asking him to require Gentiles to accept a limited number of Jewish religious practices, Paul angrily rejects their proposal. Eventually, however, Paul and Peter reconcile and end up ministering in Rome during the reign of Emperor Nero (Julian Fellowes). There, they become martyrs to their faith.
by Mike Cummings synopsis