11 March 1884|
Västra Tunhem, Älvsborg, Sweden
4 September 1974 (aged 90)|
|Education||Betel Seminary in Stockholm|
Lewi Pethrus (born ''Pethrus Lewi Johansson'') (11 March 1884 Vargön, Västergötland - 4 September 1974) was a Swedish Pentecostal minister who played a decisive role in the formation and development of the Pentecostal movement in his country.
Petrhus held manual jobs from the age of ten, being apprenticed to a shoe factory in 1899. That year, he was baptized in the Baptist Church in Vänersborg. After emigrating to Norway in 1900, he became co-pastor of the Arendal Baptist Church in 1902, along with Adolf Mildes. He started speaking in tongues, believed by Pentecostals to be evidence of having received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. After a series of meetings in Lillestrand. He claimed that the experience happened to him spontaneously and that he did not understand at the time what was happening to him.
Pethrus became pastor of a small Baptist Church in Bengtsfors, Dalsland, in 1903, but did not seek formal theological training until 1904, when he enrolled at the Betel Seminary in Stockholm. He was later to say that his training was detrimental to his faith. Exposure to the writings of liberal philosopher Viktor Rydberg temporarily undermined his faith in the divinity of Jesus, but claimed to have regained it after meeting Jesus personally in a vision.
Pethrus joined the Pentecostal movement in 1907 after meeting the Norwegian Pentecostal minister Thomas Ball Barratt in Oslo. It was then that the doctrine of the baptism in the holy spirit and speaking in tongues became clear to him; he claimed: "From that moment I was part of the Pentecostal Revival".
Pethrus became pastor of the Seventh Baptist Church in Stockholm in 1910 and of the Philadelphia Church in 1911. In 1913, the year in which he married Lydia Danielsson, his church was expelled from the Swedish Baptist Union due to disagreements about speaking in tongues and holy communion (his church practiced open communion). This was the beginning of a separate Pentecostal movement in Sweden. During the same phase of his life Pethrus wrote the words and music for his gospel song "Löftena kunna ej svika" ('The promises cannot fail'). The Philadelphia Church started a Bible school in 1915 and a weekly magazine, The Gospel Herald, in 1916. In the same year, the church sent its first missionaries, Samuel and Lina Nyström, to Brazil, helping the Assembleias de Deus.
Pethrus and his Filadelfia Church sent many missionaries to Africa, Latin America and continental Europe, and kept ties with the North American Scandinavian Pentecostals belonging to the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies and the Independent Assemblies of God, International.
Pethrus sponsored the founding of a high school in 1942 and Dagen, a daily newspaper, in 1945. A credit fund was established in 1952 and a radio station, IBRA Radio in Tangier, Morocco, in 1955. In the same year, the Philadelphia Church hosted the Pentecostal World Conference.
Pethrus resigned from the pastorate on 7 September 1958. He continued preaching as an itinerant preacher, and established the Lewi Pethrus Trust for Philanthropic Endeavour in 1959. In 1964, he spearheaded the founding of Sweden's Christian Democratic Party. His wife Lydia died on 30 December 1966. A year before his own death, he was made a Knight Commander of the Vasa Order. His last sermon was delivered at the annual Nyhemsvecka Pentecostal convention in 1974, shortly before his death on 4 September. His autobiography, Ett sagolikt liv ('a storied life') was published in 1976.
- Thoro Harris (1874-1955) made an English translation in 1918, with "All that our saviour hath spoken" as the first line and "Trust" as the title. Hymntime sites—for the Swedish version, click here; for the English version, click here.
- Ett sagolikt liv, edited by Karin Jacobsson (Stockholm: Bonniers, 1976).
- (Stockholm: Norstedts), ISBN 91-1-300967-2; English translation by Tiina Nunnally as Lewi's Journey (New York: Overlook Press, 2005), ISBN 1-58567-341-2.