Some secular critics believed the story may be seen as presenting an uncritical view of a situation where native peoples were eventually exploited regardless of "good intentions" such as concerns about SIL International.
There was some concern among various Christian groups that lead actor Chad Allen, who portrays aviator missionary Nate Saint in the movie (and his son Steve Saint as an adult), is openly gay. Some Christian groups that had initially planned to promote the film began to question whether they should. The real Steve Saint, who was heavily involved in the production of the film, has stated in interviews that he himself had reservations, but that God indicated to him that Allen was the proper choice. In the end, he couldn't see a better actor filling the role of his father. His public pronouncements did much to quell the controversy.
Other Christian groups (such as VCY America's Vic Eliason) wished the film had more explicitly portrayed the Gospel message (i.e. salvation through Jesus Christ). However, the Gospel presented in the movie is the same as it was presented to the Waodani; in concepts and symbols that are present in everyday Waodani language (with the name of "God" being replaced with "Waengongi", the name of the Waodani creator god who no longer communicated with the people).
Due to the limitations of the movie format, they have had to compress various events and limit the number of characters. As a result, the main Waodani protagonist, Mincayani, is not actually one person in real life but rather a composite of the real-life Waodani named Mincaye and various other Waodanis. Some of Steve’s sister’s experiences ended up being attributed to Steve in the movie and the dramatic climactic reconciliation between Steve as an adult and Mincayani did not actually happen as depicted in the film – it was more of a slow, growing love and friendship between the real-life Steve and Mincayani.
Opening with a Modest first weekend (January 20–22, 2006), End of the Spear took 8th place (behind one new and three expanding movies) with $4.3 million USD. End of the Spear became one of the few independently released Christian movies to draw more than $1,000,000 in its first three weekends of release. By the time the film left the box office, it had gross $11,967,000. It has since grossed over $20 million more in rentals and video sales.
Rotten Tomatoes Meter, an average of critics' ratings, as of October 24, 2014, has given the movie 40%; 21 positive, 32 negative reviews (avg. rating: 5.2/10).
Box Office Mojo, which also incorporates user ratings, had nearly 2/3 of viewers give the film an 'A' rating. The film won a Crystal Heart Award as well as the Grand Prize for Best Dramatic Feature at the 2005 Heartland Film Festival.
The DVD and some theaters where the movie was shown also included extra footage after the movie ended showing the real life Mincayani (Mincaye) and the real life Steve Saint in our modern day. Mincaye visited Steve Saint in America with humorous results while trying to understand American culture.
End of the Spear: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released on January 24, 2006 by Word Records. The soundtrack features most of the instrumental score by Ron Owen, plus featured music from the film by known CCM artists like Steven Curtis Chapman and BarlowGirl, among others.
In 2007, the album won a Dove Award for Instrumental Album of the Year at the 38th GMA Dove Awards.