By Kjell Olsen
To the Beloved in Christ Jesus
It is with a heavy heart that I feel compelled to write to you. Yes indeed, the hand of the Lord is heavy upon me and I can no longer remain silent. Even our blessed Saviour taught us to walk in the light because we are children of the light.
Brethren, the matter is this: Paul is on a major campaign to vilify me. He has written to you, and many others, claiming that I have left him because of my, as he brazenly puts it, “loving this present world.” It is therefore my painful duty to expose the truth as it really is even if it may seem to some that I no longer hold Paul in the high esteem in which most still hold him in. I need to confess, and grief grips my heart as I mention this. I never imagined that I would see this day that my conscience would force me leave Paul, to put pen to paper and expose him and the many things that have been hidden from you brethren for a very long time.
My earnest prayer (after many tears which attend this letter) is that this open letter to the Brethren would be used by Christ Himself to show you just how far Paul has moved from the Lord Himself and gone his own way. The language which I am going to use is mild in comparison with the harsh terms which he uses against others, including myself, who have finally come to their senses and left him.
Rest assured beloved, this letter does not come from any grudge I bear towards Paul or any other. It was born out of a new experience with God and my conscience. Take it before the Lord Himself, as I’m sure you do with Paul’s letters, and test and prove all things.
I am now going to embark on my agonising duty of bringing to light the real Paul and what really happened between me and Him, as well as many other very interesting undeniable facts (O God, give me strength, compassion and a truthful heart and add your blessing to these truths, grievous as they may be):
1. I have given my body, soul and spirit for the Lord’s work. For many years I have known my blessed Redeemer and some of those years were spent in full-time service together with Paul. He himself acknowledged in his letters to the Colossians and to Philemon (where he describes me with a very special term not used for just anyone – “my fellow labourers”). Paul uses this term to describe such notable kingdom workers as Luke, Mark, Philemon, Timothy, Priscilla, Aquila and Apollos.
2. As a co-worker I have faithfully served the Lord and Paul himself, despite his campaign to smear my name, cannot point out anything evil in my life during all these years we have worked together.
3. I forsook all to be with Paul, risked my life, and was often away from my family for long periods of time (which, by the way, Paul seems to encourage as he has no real thought for families which remain behind.)
4. After all my service and dedication to the Lord’s work I am now seen as a wicked person who has, as Paul’s letters insinuate, left the Lord Himself and fallen in love with this wicked world. Far be it from me brethren, the real truth is exactly the opposite and, point by point, you will come to see that it is Paul, and not I, who has forsaken the truth and fallen into dishonesty and darkness.
5. Before I go into detail about some of Paul’s flawed theology and twisted thinking, allow me to deal with the first matter at hand and show you how even the statement to Philemon and others shows Paul up for what he really is, a self-made dictator who allows no alternative opinion to his (which he, and unfortunately some others also, are coming to believe, consists of the very oracles of God just because Paul spoke them!)
a) His exact statement (and the context thereof) is: “Be diligent to come to me quickly, for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica…” My heart aches even to repeat this totally unfounded statement which is full of nefarious insinuations. Indeed, Paul has fallen into the tendency to evaluate others in terms of absolutes and the next logical step when one sees others this way is to adopt an ‘it’s our way or go to hell’ attitude. This bigoted posturing has become particularly repulsive to me.
b) Note how Paul demands that Timothy must “be diligent to” go to Paul immediately. How sad that lives are being manipulated and controlled by a man so loved and trusted by all (but I hope, dear brethren, that your eyes will now be opened to the true nature of this man.)
c) Pay attention to Paul’s use of innuendo and “guilt by association.” By saying that I have forsaken him and adjoining this half-truth to the “having loved this present world” he is accusing me of leaving him and God because of a sinful love of the world. The truth has never been further! I have been compelled, after years of heart-searching and seeking the Messiah, to follow the Lord instead of Paul. It is not that I have deserted Paul, I have simply obeyed the command of the Lord to “seek God and His righteousness” before everything else. Paul has been part of that “everything else” but now I am finally free. And O, how glorious the freedom, the blessed liberty, the sunshine of truth and the knowledge that I now follow Christ Himself and not a man.
d) Paul has chosen a word “enkateleipo” which is the same word Jesus used on the cross when He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” It would be amusing if it were not so tragic, that Paul equates my leaving him with the Father leaving His Son on Calvary. Is this not a clear indication of Paul’s delusion – he sees himself as Christ being forsaken by God, simply because of me going to Thessalonica to follow the Lord according to the dictates of my own conscience.
e) Notice too, that Paul has no comfort in Jesus for he needs people to give him reassurance. Is this not the reason why Paul demands Timothy to come to him “quickly”? He needs to be surrounded with “yes men” in order to make him feel that God is with him. Brethren, do you not see how deluded Paul has become?
f) Everything must be seen in its context and I refuse to be like Paul in grabbing texts and forcing them into ones own mould. Thus, I beseech you to examine the rest of Paul’s letter to Timothy. Notice the short statement of lament which you may not have noticed upon the first reading of his letter: “This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me.” What? All of them rejecting Paul? (See that I am not alone brethren; the eyes of many are beginning to be opened.) In saying “this you know” Paul is admitting that Asian situation is common knowledge. I know of at least seven well established churches in Asia (and John is well acquainted with them too.) Notice that Paul is not claiming that the Asian churches have rejected the gospel – he just insinuates it. Isn’t this reasoning breathtaking! This is the same Paul who had, not very long ago, commended some of the churches there, in particular the church at Ephesus. Surely, the evidence against Paul’s so-called “apostleship” is mounting?!
g) Again, in the same letter to Timothy (O, Timothy, when you get to read my expose of Paul do not be offended brother. See this as a plea for sanity, a desperate cry for a return to authentic truth which is found in Christ Himself and no man), we find Paul yet again complaining: “Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will requite him for his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message.” In this sweeping statement Paul is showing himself up for what he really is. He cannot stand any criticism but sees all opposition as being against Christ Himself. How can one miss the retributive tone of this complaint – “the Lord will requite him for his deeds.” If you think Paul has a revengeful spirit here you should realise that this is mild in comparison to the curses he has pronounced on other critics. (On the subject of Paul’s curses – he is known to encourage others to do the same – twice in his letter to the Galatians he commanded them to curse anyone who teaches anything other than his doctrine.)
I begin to concur with some of our religious leaders who have branded our faith as sectarian. If we can’t handle honest inquiry we will not survive and we deserve to be sidelined by the sectarian label. Brethren, let us not be deceived by the sectarian spirit of Paul who is guilty of the very works of the flesh which he pointed out to the Galatians, “outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies.” In fact, my plea is (after prayerful consideration of this letter to the church) that you consider making an official break with this man Paul who is fast bringing the whole church into disrepute.
Notice too, that Paul demands that Timothy should also “beware” of Alexander. In other words, Paul expects the Christians to “shun” all those whom he has declared persona non grata! If it continues like this whole families will be split up.
The word Paul uses for “did me harm” is the same word for “informer”. Remember that this same Alexander is mentioned in the first letter to Timothy and there he is linked with brother Hymenaeus, and of both of them Paul declares, “I have delivered them to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.” Brethren, do you need any further evidence of Paul’s malignant attitude towards brothers in Christ who have adopted a slightly different view to his own? But let me continue.
h) You may be asking why I left Paul when he is in prison and in obvious need. To start with, let me state that I bear no grudge against Paul and only feel sorry for him being in jail. Let me also add that, to a certain extent, Paul is a victim of his own prophecies. He has often referred to his “coming sufferings” and no persuasion from brethren has convinced him to avoid going to Rome. Personally, I am fast coming round to the understanding that Paul has a persecution complex and has a strange sadistic desire to suffer pain – “sadomasochism” could be an accurate term to describe his malady. (I’ll speak later about his shady political dealings, which could also be a reason why the authorities have been conducting such intensive investigations into his activities.)
To get back to the point as to why I left Paul. As I have already described, the Lord has woken me up to the deception I have lived under for so many years. But more than that there is another issue here. The axe is obviously about to fall on Paul. I have no death-wish and have simply made a strategic withdrawal ahead of a possible arrest warrant because of my close association with a criminal. Thus, together with the realisation that Paul has slipped into self-delusion, I realised that it would be unfair on the church and my family for me to continue my dangerous association with him. It is far safer here in Thessalonica and the church desperately needs me in this time of need. In this I follow the ways of my Master (who is no longer Paul but Christ Himself) for He too escaped arrest when He realised that His time had not yet come.
I believe, dearly beloved, that you can see for yourself that it is a PLAIN LIE that I left Paul “loving this present world.” Oh, may God be merciful to Paul and bring him to his senses, and continue showing His favour to us who have seen the light and been delivered from so great a deception. We are a growing group of disillusioned ex-Paulites and, thankfully, we can now get back to the real business of extending the kingdom of God instead of the private empire of a man.
6. And now I come to other grave matters concerning Paul. It hurts me to even write this and I weep even now. Brethren, I bring before you the REAL truth about Paul and his increasingly deluded thinking. It is high time that the authority of the words of the Messiah be restored, and the inflated image of this admittedly “carnal” man (according to his own admission to the Romans) be deposed from the minds of God-fearing individuals. Let the faithful and true Jeremiahs dare “to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy” the mistaken ideas of the apostle Paul, and “build and plant” again in the hearts of God’s people a true picture of the Saviour whose every Word was the “Word of God”.
7. Fortunately, Paul often gives himself away and reveals his true nature. Take for example the arrogant way in which he gives advice about marriage to the Corinthian church. (Some from Corinth tell me that they have been deeply hurt by the anti-family teachings that Paul tried to force upon them.) In his first letter to the brethren there, Paul says: “unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, … but the rest is from me, not from the Lord.” And if that doesn’t take your breath away how about this: “Now concerning the virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: but I give my own opinion.” How unlike our Saviour, who said, “I do nothing of myself but as my Father taught me, I speak these things.” Paul, contrary to the One whom he claims to follow, deliberately blurs the line between his opinion (and who needs man’s opinion anyway?) and the Lord’s. Tragically, some in Corinth have been completely taken in by this false apostle and now begin to accept his words as the very words of God.
I was with him when he wrote the following words in his second letter to the church in Corinth, and how I regret that I remained silent about Paul’s deceptive techniques: “What I am going to say now, is not prompted by the Lord, but said as if in a fit of folly, in the certainty that I have something to boast about.” How’s that for arrogance! Our Saviour never spoke in “folly” and neither did He ever boast about His abilities or achievements. It is obvious that Paul’s vanity frequently gets the upper hand of his reason for he goes on to say: “so many others have been boasting about their worldly achievements that I will boast myself.” He then proceeds to vaunt his pedigree and experiences. Paul certainly has no relationship to the Moses, “the most meek man on earth.” His other letters (to the Philippians, for example) bear the same mark of arrogance. It’s as if we must all bow and scrape before the experiences and opinions of Paul! Compare him to real apostles. In all four of the accounts by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John there is a complete absence of the use of the personal pronoun (except for two exceptions; where Luke said from a heart of humility, “It seemed good to me also … to write”, and at the end of John’s account where he deliberately avoids using his own name and in four places refers to himself as the “disciple whom Christ loved.” What a contrast to Paul’s letters who, in his thirteen major epistles (as some now call them), starts each with his own name and uses the personal pronoun “I, me, or my”, 949 times! In the one place at the end of his second letter to the Corinthian church he has the audacity to use the personal pronoun 7 times in one sentence and 60 times in one section! No wonder it is recorded of another Saul, “…when you were little in your own eyes…” – and we know where he ended up. This brings us to Paul’s obsession with trying to prove that he was a genuine apostle, nay, the chief of apostles.
8. To the believers in Rome this Paul once wrote, “I am proud of being sent”. Do I need to comment on his over-inflated ego? Our Lord said, and John confirms this in his account, “When a man’s doctrine is his own, he is hoping to get honour for himself.” In the second letter to the Corinthians Paul reveals his true nature yet again: “in nothing am I behind the very chief apostles.” Could it be that this former Saul of Tarsus has convinced himself that he is “not a whit behind” our Saviour Himself? All Paul’s attempts at being the “least” and being the “chief of sinners” are shown up for what they really are in the light of the above – he wallows in a false humility which is just a subtle form of pride!
To confirm all this, consider His heretical statement (and I must call it by name; I’m walking in the light now and will no longer conceal the truth) which he repeated three times (to the Romans and in, what I hope is the last, his recent letter to Timothy: ” According to my gospel.” Can you believe it? Even our Lord never referred to “my” message. Not even the scribes dared to speak of “my” gospel.
Brethren, how can we walk with this man any longer? He has started his own exclusive club and expects us all to fit into it.
9. His political views are radical, disruptive and sometimes even seditious. Remember that he is in prison right now, not for his so-called faith, but because the powers that be have deemed him unfit to be free in public and have heard numerous reports of the riots and troubles that have followed him everywhere.
Paul is very conscious of his Empire citizenship and has been known to abuse it on suitable occasions; like the case where he intimidated a Roman commander who was conducting a just inquiry into the activities of Paul.
Strangely, he tells the church in Rome to be “subject to the governing authorities.” As many of the brethren have pointed out, this reeks of compromise and political submission to evil. Others concur that this irresponsible statement will provide various totalitarian regimes with justification to crush dissent.
10. Let us examine the stark contradictions in many of Paul’s writings. In his first letter to the church at Corinth he states: “I also seek to please all men in all things” and yet he seems to have forgotten that when he writes to the Galatians “or do I seek to please men? For if I pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” What’s this? A sudden change in tactics?
Consider, for example, the danger of insisting on the literal words from Paul’s pen: “For to this end Messiah both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and the living” (Rom.14:9). But let us compare this declaration with the Words of Messiah Himself, when He spoke of the God of Abraham. “He is not a God of the dead, but of the living” (Luke 20:37).
Many of the statements in Paul’s letters are extremely misleading, if they are not fully explained by other Scriptures and added revelation. Examine this apparent contradiction concerning those who died in the plague of Midian. In Numbers 25:9 we read: “And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.” Now compare the above statement, made by Moses, with that of Paul’s in (1 Cor. 10:8), “Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day twenty three thousand”. Did Paul miss the number by one thousand? Paul said that 23,000 fell in one day.
Paul makes much of our freedom from the law but he is remarkably stringent in applying new laws. He demands total silence from the women and (in his first letter to Corinth) makes a new law: “Women are to remain quiet at meetings, since they have no permission to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.” Isn’t it strange how he appeals to the law, although the Torah has no reference to this, and adds to it when it suits him? As we well know the “law” Paul is referring to was simply Jewish custom. Didn’t Christ say something about making the traditions of men into laws that break men’s backs?
Then, does it not strike one as passing strange that Paul should be antagonistic towards Peter regarding the subject of circumcision and yet he does virtually the same thing he accused Peter of – pleasing the circumcision crowd – by circumcising Timothy’s father who was a Greek? There is also the incident where he had his hair cut off because of a vow he had made. To impress whom?
11. Paul can’t get on with others, even his own co-workers. We all know about his conflict with Barnabas. Keep in mind that according to Luke’s account the “Holy Spirit had put them together”. It would seem, and I am collecting many pieces of evidence from ex-Paulites, that as soon as people really get to know him as he really is they will all desert him. There are of course the exceptions, the few who stick to a person or an idea even when it has been discredited. Timothy and Titus are some of the all-for-Paul crowd who will not be convinced even if the Lord Himself should inform them of their error. They are locked into a system and they don’t know how to escape.
Then, something else about the split with Barnabas. There must surely be something wrong with Paul if Barnabas whom the church commissioned because he was “full of the Spirit” breaks company with him. This was no minor argument and it should indicate that there is something radically wrong with Paul.
12. I dislike doing this, but my conscience binds me and I must speak the truth after all these years – Paul is given to lying. Yes, it’s as blunt as that. He is so convinced about himself and his own viewpoints that he is willing to lie (or perhaps he believes that these untruths are just a defence of his ministry?). Take for example the enormously important meeting of the church council in Jerusalem. You know about the “abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled” statement. When Paul told the story in his letter to the Galatians he purposely twisted the truth and declared that the council, “desired only that we should remember the poor”. He obviously changed the facts to prop up his antinomian thesis. And this is the Paul who had the audacity to preface his letter with a vow of honesty, “Now concerning the things which I write to you, indeed, before God, I do not lie.” In case this incident, which is provable from the records of the Council’s statement and Paul’s letter, there is also the lie he told to King Agrippa. On the two previous occasions when Paul told his conversion story about the Damascus road experience, Jesus had told him to go into the city where he would be commanded what he was to do. But somehow he embellished his story more and more, probably to assert his “apostolic” call. Luke records, and we can trust the honourable doctor to tell the truth, that Paul told King Agrippa that Christ said to him, on the Damascus road, “But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes and to turn them from the power of Satan to God.” Is it not plain for all to see that Paul is able to twist the truth and “doctor” his story according to the occasion? I hear that King Agrippa remarked, in the company of Festus: “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!” Although I was initially upset by Agrippa’s remark, when I was still blinded to the truth about Paul, I am starting to understand the accuracy of that statement.
Think deeply about his “I became all things to all men that I might save some.” This confusion of means and ends is one of the things, which characterises demagogues and fanatics of all persuasions.
Now that two clear, irrefutable lies have been exposed it is only reasonable to believe that lying has become Paul’s habit and that it is difficult to accept anything he says.
13. Do not think it strange that I question (as others have) Paul’s monetary policies. Some have started calling Paul’s letter to the Philippians his “thank you note”. When he refers to “your fellowship” in his preface he plainly means “material sharing” or “contribution”. Unfortunately, Paul is accountable to no one and we have no way of telling exactly what he does with the money he collects from all the churches. He is certainly gifted at playing on the soft consciences of the sheep in order to fleece them! There is a lot more which needs to be investigated and I do not want to raise unreasonable suspicions. However, the reality is that Paul has lied and deceived in other matters and it wouldn’t surprise us at all if his financial matters have fallen prey to his increasingly devious character.
14. His supposed bravery needs to be questioned. Paul was willing to work with worldly authorities when it suited him, especially to save his own skin! The same Paul who told Agabus that he was ready not only to be bound “but also to die at Jerusalem” appealed to Caesar when the going got tough. Of all the people Paul should appeal to he goes for the likes of the bloodthirsty Nero! This is the height of hypocrisy from the one who commanded the Corinthian church not to seek justice from the unrighteous. Imagine Christ appealing to Caesar for justice! I personally believe that Paul was afraid of facing the cross-examination of the Jewish leaders because he knew that they probably had copies of his letters.
To try and justify his remarkable turnaround Paul later spread the rumour, just before his shipwreck, that an angel had informed him that he “must be brought to Caesar.” Even supposed angels are made to fit into Paul’s mould.
15. Paul’s leadership called into question. Except for Paul’s own letters there is virtually no other recognised leader who refers to him as an apostle. Remember that he was never one of the original 12. Paul realised that quite a few of his contemporaries didn’t acknowledge his apostolic leadership. As he said in his first letter to the church in Corinth: “If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. My defense to those who examine me in this.”
Paul has never been sheepish about calling himself an apostle. In fact, in nine out of thirteen of his letters, he introduces himself as an apostle, and in every case he states in one way or another that his apostleship stands by divine sovereign decree. In his own words to the Corinthians he said: “For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles”. ….”As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia.”
Is this not typical of a cult leader and haven’t we seen enough of these troublers of Israel? Tragically, some loyalists keep on giving Paul credibility, typical of other cult followers.
16. It does not need much discernment to see that Paul also suffers from some hidden sexual problems. Even a casual examination of some of his wild statements to the Corinthians will show that he has the opinion of a very sick man. For instance, he holds the queer belief that marriage is a second-best option, “a concession.” If you’re troubled by lust then you’d better get married – says Paul. He would even have us all to be like him, a bachelor! I could go on in depth about Paul’s obvious problems in the sexual area but I’d prefer not to defile your minds.
Do not feel sorry for Paul in prison – he has stubbornly asked for it for a long time now. I hear from a document Luke has been compiling that Paul said at one stage that he is “bound in the Spirit unto Jerusalem.” No persuasion from his brethren could convince the “bound” Paul, instead he retorted “none of these things move me.” Good God!, does he not even listen to the advice of his colleagues who, “speaking in the Spirit”, as Luke records, kept telling Paul not to go to Jerusalem. So just who does Paul listen to then? Perhaps, and we must begin to ask these honest questions, Paul’s slide downwards began when he couldn’t listen to the pleas of the saints.
Finally, I plead with you brethren, do not be deceived by this man any longer. You can see for yourselves that many of his closest co-workers have been leaving him and whole congregations under his authority have left him to follow Christ alone. Perhaps God will still grant him repentance and bring him to his senses. Then, and only then, when he has made full confession, not just token apologies, will he be worthy of respect once again. He cannot keep on spouting about his conversion (as he is apt to do). Time has moved on and Paul has moved backwards. The only way forward is for Paul to submit himself to the true authorities in the church and publicly repent of his multiple sins. In the meantime, I urge you all to disassociate with the self-styled apostle. The Lord’s Name is at stake and the whole credibility of the church stands in jeopardy.
I predict, though I lay no claim to being a prophet, Paul will die a miserable and broken man and his name will disappear from history. If it is remembered it will be with great embarrassment and shame.
For your brother who loves the Lord Jesus Christ,
(My name means “commoner”, and that I was till Jesus saved me and united me to His church forever.)
NOTE BY THE REAL AUTHOR
Earlier this year I preached a sermon on the “Power of Words”. The three main headings were: the power of our words, the power of the words of others, and the power of God’s Word (see outlines). I have spent much time examining the Scriptures and observing how ministries all over the world, including ours at Kwasizabantu, have often been the subject of severe attack through the power of words. In the “Open Letter to the Brethren” by Demas, I have endeavoured to show how information which is mostly true can be twisted and reinterpreted according to the frame of mind of the person and the popular mood of the moment. Nearly all of Demas’ points are factual but are still untrue. The attack on Paul can be equated with the attack on ministries which are being used of God.
All illustrations may be misconstrued if they are taken to illogical extremes or out of context. One of these might be the suspicion that the article is insinuating that there are ministries or men of God whose words are on a par with Scripture. This I firmly reject since the canon of Scripture is already complete and no extra revelation is necessary.
May the letter of Demas serve the purpose of warning all believers to be wary of words which can be used by the devil to hurt and damage ministries which God is using (however imperfect they may be.) Nevertheless, real heresy and departure from the truth must always be dealt with. There is a fine line between destructive attacks and honest criticism.
Kjell Olsen (July 2000)