Karen & Ron Flowers
Directors, Department of Family
Ministries, General Conference
Theme: The gospel offers new beginnings for estranged relationships.
Theme Text: John 15:12; Philemon 15, 16. Supplementary Reading: Ellen G. White, Acts of the Apostles, pp. 456-460.
Presentation Notes: The notes presented in this section do not constitute a prepared sermon script. The following helps are designed to offer a framework, supportive resources, and illustrations toward the development of a sermon or sermons on a stated theme. You will want to shape these ideas in your own style, drawing upon your own study and experience to meet the particular needs of your congregation. Throughout the following outline, numbers in parentheses (1), (2), (3) will indicate illustrations, quotations and other material that may be helpful in your sermon development and delivery. These helps can be found in the Sermon Illumination section.
In the collection of writings we call the New Testament, there is a small letter-we might even call it a “postcard”-with a big, big message. It is the letter of Paul to Philemon. It is the shortest of all his epistles (only 334 words in the Greek text), but it is among his most profound. Its message is about reconciliation, about the bringing back together again of individuals estranged from each other. It is about offering forgiveness and a new beginning to someone whom the law condemned as deserving severe punishment, perhaps even death.
Historical Background of the Letter
The Epistle to Philemon is one of the four Prison Epistles, which also include Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. The letters to the Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon were written around 62 A.D. by the apostle Paul from his place of imprisonment in Rome. They were hand-carried by Tychicus, a companion of Paul, on a journey to the churches of Ephesus and Colossae in Asia. The epistle to Philemon is a personal epistle written to Philemon, a Christian in Colossae. Philemon was a convert of Paul (Philem.19), perhaps through an encounter of the two men in Ephesus during Paul’s third missionary journey (54-57 A.D.). Philemon owned a house large enough for a meeting place for the church. In fact, the “church in your house” (Philem. 2) is addressed in the salutation of the letter, along with Philemon’s wife, Apphia, and his grown son, Archippus, who evidently held a position of ministry in the church (Col. 4:1).
Like many other wealthy citizens in Colossae, including Christian believers, Philemon was a slaveholder. (1), (2) Since Paul acknowledges the good which Philemon has done among the believers (many of whom were probably slaves) (Philem. 5-7), it is likely that, among Christian slaveholders, the plight of slaves was better than in the society at large. However, the system of slavery as a whole was “hopelessly degrading” ( Acts of the Apostles , p. 459). With full control over the souls and bodies of these helpless beings, he [the slave owner] could inflict upon them any suffering he chose. If one of them in retaliation or self-defense ventured to raise a hand against his owner, the whole family of the offender might be inhumanly sacrificed. The slightest mistake, accident, or carelessness was often punished without mercy ( Acts of the Apostles , p. 459).
We might be tempted to wonder why such inhumane practices were not condemned outrightly in the New Testament. The answer lies in the “wise as serpents, harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16) philosophy which both Christ and the apostles employed as they went about their mission. Paul did not assault the social structure of his day directly, but he presented viewpoints and perspectives that would alter human hearts and reshape relationships from inside families and the community of faith. He was confident that Christian believers, under the guidance of the Spirit, would steadily grow into conformity to the will of God. (3), (4)
The Story Behind the Letter
Onesimus, a slave from Philemon’s household, had robbed or in some other way wronged his master and had escaped. Like many such slave runaways, he had found his way to the sprawling capital city of Rome, hoping to lose himself amid the masses. Just how he encountered Paul there is uncertain. He may have been destitute and looked for Christians, whom he understood to be kind and helpful. He may have been driven by guilt and seeking some inner peace in the Christian community. Or he may have looked for Paul directly, no doubt having heard Philemon speak of him. Onesimus may even have known of Paul’s imprisonment in Rome.
The encounter with Paul was life-changing for Onesimus, for as he listened to the words of life from the aging prisoner for Christ, he confessed his sins and was converted. Onesimus became involved in caring for Paul and helping to spread the gospel. His conscience was awakened to his responsibility to repent and make as much restitution as he could to Philemon for the wrongs he had done. Paul would have liked to have retained Onesimus in his service, but both knew he was a fugitive felon under Roman law and liable for severe punishment, perhaps even death, if caught. It became increasingly clear he could not continue to work for Christ until his debt back in Colossae was cared for. He must return to Philemon. Paul counseled him to do so without delay, to make his apology in the hope that things could be set right.
What we have in our Bibles is the note of recommendation which Paul prepared to accompany Onesimus as he went back to Philemon. Having also written letters for the Ephesian and Colossian churches, the apostle entrusted them, and Onesimus, to Tychicus. The two then set out on the journey to Asia Minor. “It was a severe test for this servant thus to deliver himself up to the master he had wronged; but he had been truly converted, and he did not turn aside from this duty” ( Acts of the Apostles , p. 456).
The letter has been hailed as masterful in its tact, its sensitivity and its skillful handling of a difficult situation. Ellen White notes that Paul knew “that Philemon was greatly incensed because of the conduct of his servant” (Acts of the Apostles, p. 457, 458). Paul mentions that he has heard of Philemon’s service to the church and his witnessing (vss. 5, 6). Did he also hear of Philemon’s displeasure at the runaway Onesimus? Or did Paul simply know intuitively that anyone who had been thus wronged would be angry? There is no way to know for certain. In any case, Paul is very courteous in this letter. He shows loving concern for both Philemon and Onesimus. For those of us helping restore estranged relationships in the family, there are many lessons in this letter about the delicate work of what we might call “Christian diplomacy.”
Expressing respect, love and affection. To Paul, Philemon is “beloved,” a “fellow worker” (vs. 1). Paul has prayed for Philemon, thanking God for him (vs. 4, 5) and asking God that Philemon’s faith will grow and that his witnessing will be effective (vs. 6). They are bonded together in Christ. Philemon is a “brother” (vs. 7, 20).
Giving genuine affirmation and appreciation. Philemon is widely known for his magnanimity and general helpfulness. Paul’s affirmation and appreciation for Philemon is real. Philemon’s devoted Christian faith and service has been inspirational, a source of encouragement and joy to Paul (vs. 7).
Making an appeal rather than giving an order. Paul makes his apostolic authority clear (see 1 Cor. 9; 2 Cor. 10, 11). With Philemon, however, he deliberately chooses not to use apostolic authority to command, but rather to make an appeal on the basis of love (vss. 8, 9). Paul’s appeal respects Philemon’s will and power of choice. Such an appeal is more likely to enlist Philemon’s cooperation than would a direct order. Without freedom of choice, Philemon’s response would not have been voluntary. (5) A similar idea is expressed later in the letter when Paul says, “I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced” (vs. 14). An appeal also recognizes that the individual who has been wronged feels hurt, injured, used. In response to an appeal, the feelings of someone like Philemon are more likely to be processed in a positive way. With a command, resistance is more likely.
Reflections of the Great Intercessor
Paul does not compare his intercession for Onesimus with that of Christ for sinners. But in this letter we can see his efforts in the arena of human relationships as a type of Christ’s work as mediator between God and humankind (1 Tim. 2:5). Paul’s work as an intercessor also shows us how God uses people as His helpers to bring about the reconciliation of one human being to another, a restoration of relationships made possible because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross (Gal. 2:28; Eph. 2:13-19).
He serves as an advocate. The word appeal (vss. 9, 10) comes from the same Greek root word as the names given to the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) and to Jesus (1 John 2:1), i.e., “one called alongside another to help,” “to comfort,” “to be an advocate.” Paul is an advocate for Onesimus.
He offers himself to the one wronged as surety for the wrongdoer. “If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back . . .” (vss. 18, 19). (6) How fitting an illustration of the love of Christ for the repentant sinner! The servant who had defrauded his master had nothing with which to make restitution. The sinner who has robbed God of years of service has no means of canceling the debt. Jesus interposes between the sinner and God, saying, I will pay the debt. Let the sinner be spared; I will suffer in his stead ( Acts of the Apostles , p. 458).
He is close to both sides. Onesimus he calls “my son” (vs. 10), “my very heart” (vs. 12). Philemon he calls “fellow worker” (vs. 1), “brother” (vs. 7, 20), and “partner” (vs. 17). “So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me” (vs. 17). This is the climax of his advocacy, his mediation, his substitution and intercession for Onesimus. His close relationship with them both is what he trusts will make possible a restored relationship between Philemon and Onesimus. “From the standpoint of his legal rights Philemon could proceed with other action than that which Paul suggests. But Paul rises above mere justice and rests his case on the summit of love” ( SDA Bible Commentary , Vol. 7, p. 383).
He presents each to the other as worthy of trust. Trust erodes between individuals when wrongs are done. The restoration of trust is a necessary part of reconciliation. Paul acknowledges that Onesimus, whose name means “useful,” has not formerly lived up to his name. But he declares that he has changed and become truly useful (vs. 11), so useful that he would liked to have retained him as a personal attendant in Rome (vs. 13). Paul has already acknowledged many positive qualities about Philemon. These he must have likewise impressed upon Onesimus. That he inspired Onesimus’ heart with hope and trust in Philemon is shown in part by the renegade slave’s willingness to return to his master. If he had not, Onesimus might have asked to remain in Rome until Tychicus had delivered Paul’s letter and some word had come back from Philemon to Paul.
The first good news of the gospel is that God has already brought about perfect reconciliation between Himself and the human race . “God . . . reconciled us to himself through Christ . . .” (2 Cor. 5:18). But the gospel also contains the truth that members of the human race, estranged by sin, have been brought together in Christ . The human to human reconciliation and unity for which Jesus prayed (John 17:11), was also accomplished in His body on the cross (Eph. 2:13-19). “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). These are valid spiritual realities, accomplished by God Himself apart from any human doing, which await our acceptance.
Objective reconciliation: Brothers in Christ. In this epistle, Paul addresses two very complex levels of human reconciliation. The first is what we can call objective reconciliation. It deals with a reconciliation between Philemon and Onesimus which is outside their personal experience. It is something Christ has accomplished already. All believers are brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul must help Philemon to see that because of Christ, he and Onesimus are already reconciled; they are Christian brothers.(7, 8) Paul reveals this truth when he indicates that Onesimus is coming back, no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother ” (v15, 16). The words “better than” (vs. 16) are from the same Greek word which is translated “above” in Luke 6:40 (” above his teacher”) and Phil. 2:9 (” above every name”). In other words, Onesimus is above a slave. What Paul is saying is that, in Christ, believers have a new status, an elevated status. They are “brothers” and “sisters” in the family of God. Fellow believers see each other through new glasses, as it were, and love each other as members of one family. Paul builds on the thought that he expressed in another letter carried by Tychicus, the letter to the Ephesians, a church where there were also slaveholders. There he points out that with God there is no partiality between those who are called masters and slaves in earthly society (Eph. 6:9). Paul is presenting to Philemon a radical reconciliation, that of finding in Onesimus a beloved brother.
This news that Christ has reconciled estranged human beings directs the thoughts of one who has been wounded heavenward. Christ our Savior has felt our sorrow. He recognizes the need for justice, and He has personally taken upon Himself the punishment due the wrongdoer. He “carried our sorrows . . . He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isa. 53:4, 5). “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). That good news alone can begin the stirring in our hearts that is necessary for us to reach out to one another. “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).
This truth is one which must echo beyond the walls of Philemon’s home. The acceptance of this radical reconciliation will bring to an end all use of power that would enslave or subjugate people wherever they are found. It heralds the end of patriarchy, of benevolent autocracy and other seemingly benign leadership forms that nevertheless insinuate that others are inferior.
Because of Christ, a fellowship now exists that knows no such distinctions. Christ has forever banished the barriers of ethnicity, social and economic class, and gender stratification (Gal. 3:28). Today, the message of Christ has reached into many parts of the world and slavery as an institution is officially banned. However, the desire to control others still exists in hearts that have not yielded to Christ. These verses of Philemon tell us that there must be a radical change in the conduct of Christian companies and business owners toward their employees. People must always be placed above profit. Also to come under scrutiny in the light of these verses are those social forces-whether religious, political, domestic, or commercial-that dominate and repress women, children, the poor and disadvantaged, and that grind down certain people groups.
Subjective reconciliation: Choosing to restore a damaged relationship. The second level of reconciliation we might call subjective reconciliation. It deals with the personal, subjective experience of coming back into relationship with someone who has wronged you. That wrong might be any one of a number of things-physical or emotional wounding or the inflicting of damage, loss or hurt to one’s family or to the things one holds dear. Reconciliation must address the hurt and broken trust, the sense of violation of the promises which bind us together.
Already we have seen how the awareness of Christ’s bearing the punishment for transgressions against us can help to bring a sense of justice and prepare our hearts for healing the wounded relationship. The letter to Philemon also shows us that this work of reconciliation in human hearts is not one to be commanded. It must be the voluntary choice of the one who has been deeply hurt. Nor is it a process to be rushed. Christian counselor Gary Rosberg says, “Conflict settlement needs to follow a process, and it often takes time” (1992, p. 232).
When an offense occurs, it hurts. Hurt is often followed by anger. Rosberg describes such experiences as profoundly affecting the relationship “loop” between the two persons involved. In a close relationship, their “relationship loop” which binds them together would be kept intact, with communication and love flowing freely between them. But because of the hurtful offence, the “loop” that has held them together in relationship has suffered a breach; it has been torn open.
At this point the individuals are faced with a choice. They may choose to sustain the break and keep the loop open. In this case, the problem which resulted in the breach in their relationships may never be addressed or resolved. Choosing to keep the loop open may be necessary to provide opportunity for the one who has been hurt deeply to make a decision about the level of relationship they are able or that it safe to sustain with the other person for the future. On the other hand, the persons involved may wish to repair the breach and close the loop, whatever it takes. To close the loop and restore a relationship that has sustained damage requires a process with a number of steps:
- Choosing to love again. Before the breach can be repaired, the persons involved must reaffirm their commitment to the relationship and to God and choose to enter into the process of reconciliation, trusting God for help in resolving the problem.
- Preparing the heart. Preparation of the hearts of each individual is important before entering into dialogue with one another. This is a time for meditation, Bible study and prayer. A time for confession of one’s own personal need of grace. It is a time for introspection and consideration of the underlying causes of the problem to which each individual may be contributing. It is a time for deciding the relationship takes priority over conflict issues.
- Communicating. For conflicts to be resolved, the persons involved must talk. Both must make a commitment to listening and understanding, to really hearing the other person. The thoughts and feelings and needs of both must be expressed.
- Loving confrontation. When approaching the other person, it is important to be sensitive to the pressures they may be feeling and to request a time to talk about the problem together. Choosing an unhurried time and setting, avoiding exaggerated accusations-such as those using words like “never” and “always”-and shifting the approach from “you” to “I”-that is, from blaming the other person to sharing one’s own feelings-set the stage for understanding and resolution to the problem. Sometimes communication and loving confrontation are all that are necessary. Sometimes there is a need to explore alternatives for resolving the problem in a way that meets the needs of both. It is important to take the time to generate options until an alternative can be found that is satisfying to each. If this alternative turns out not to be as acceptable as anticipated, both must remain open to adjustments. This process can be very difficult for the two persons most closely involved in a conflict to follow without assistance from someone like a pastor or counselor who has the ability to help them hear and understand one another and to generate and choose among options. God has given gifts and opportunities for professional training to members of the body of Christ. They can offer their counsel and support to those seeking reconciliation.
- Forgiving one another. Forgiveness cannot come until hurt has been validated. It is necessary to move beyond denial and acknowledge the depth of the pain. Validation prepares the way for the person who has been hurt to turn from revenge, retribution and resentment and make the choice to forgive. Validation opens the way for the offender to enter into the pain that he or she has brought into the life of the person they have wounded. It prepares the way for the full repentance of the wrongdoer. This repentance includes accepting responsibility for the pain that has been caused, saying, “I was wrong; I am sorry. I don’t every want to hurt you in this way again.” Such repentance also involves making restitution in every way possible, changing in behavior, and seeking the help of others to avoid inflicting such hurt in the future. Genuine repentance and forgiveness in response provides both giver and receiver with emotional relief.(9)
- Rebuilding trust. For true restoration to occur, there must be a work of rebuilding trust. The passing of time alone is not enough, but positive experiences and perseverance in restoring the relationship over time can eventually result in trust regained. God does not leave us to walk this path alone. He is the God of restoration and reconciliation.
The journey of repentance. The journey from Rome to Colossae in Paul’s day was a long and difficult journey. Paul sent Tychicus as a companion for Onesimus (Col. 4:7-9). One commentator notes that there were bounty hunters looking for renegade slaves, and travel would be safer if Onesimus were not alone. There may be another reason Paul sent Onesimus with a companion. He may have been concerned that Onesimus might need support, lest he become faint of spirit, for the long journey of Onesimus is nothing less than the journey of the repentant. It is like the journey of the prodigal son back home, with those desperate words on his lips, “I have sinned against heaven and in your sight and am no longer worthy to be called your son.” What can he, a runaway slave, ever say to Philemon? What can he do but offer his repentance? Will the note be received? These thoughts must have played over and over in his mind as he trudged forward during the long days and wakeful nights of the journey home. But in those moments, in our mind’s eye, we can see him put his hand tenderly into the pocket where the note, the precious note of intercession, was kept. In this act, we can imagine he turned again and again for reassurance to Paul, the trusted friend of both himself and his owner.
Here in our Bibles we have the very message sent by Paul in the hand of Onesimus to Philemon. Did Onesimus complete the journey from Rome back to Philemon? Did he deliver the letter? Did Philemon respond as Paul requested? The answers must be yes. We do not know what the reunion was like, or by what personal process Philemon and Onesimus were reconciled. But the fact that this tiny letter exists at all is the greatest testimony that what Paul appealed for on the basis of the gospel actually came to pass.
Today, we are all, in one way or another, wrapped up in the drama of this little letter. In so far as it symbolizes our standing before God, we can rejoice at the really good news that we have been welcomed home! No longer as slaves, but as adopted members of the family. God accepts us in His Beloved Son (Eph. 1:6). In another sense, we play out these characters in our families and other relationships. Some of us are like Paul, trying very hard to mediate the difficulties between people we love. We feel frustrated, confused or disappointed by our lack of results sometimes. Perhaps the most important things for us to remember from the letter to Philemon are that we can keep on loving both sides and we can continue to appeal for peace. In the realm of relationships we cannot force or coerce, we must leave the choice to reconcile with the individuals themselves.
Some may be like Onesimus, perhaps still running, feeling guilty, longing to repent and be reconciled. The experience of Onesimus can fortify us with courage to confess our wrongs and seek reconciliation with our God in heaven and with those whom we have wronged in our families and elsewhere.
Some of us may be in Philemon’s position today. We have been wronged. The hurt runs deep. No offense is ever minor, but perhaps the damage has been very extensive. You may feel angry, even punitive. There may have been gestures of repentance from the offender, maybe not. Perhaps the repentance seemed insincere. You don’t know what to do, but the situation is eating you alive.
Today the God of Paul, Onesimus and Philemon understands. Through Christ He has entered the human arena and become familiar with our pain. Because of Christ He has committed Himself to the process of restoring damaged relationships. We can trust in the surety of the reconciliation between earth and heaven, between ourselves and Him. As we put our earthly human relationships in His hands, He will surely lead us to know more fully the freeing experience of forgiveness and, if it is at all possible, the renewal of reconciliation.
One (1): Slave-holding was an established institution throughout the Roman Empire, and both masters and slaves were found in most of the churches for which Paul labored. In the cities, where slaves often greatly outnumbered the free population, laws of terrible severity were regarded as necessary to keep them in subjection. A wealthy Roman often owned hundreds of slaves, of every rank, of every nation, and of every accomplishment. ( Acts of the Apostles , p. 459).
Two (2): Without an understanding of the slave problem as it existed in the Roman Empire of Paul’s day, the Epistle to Philemon cannot be fully appreciated. Slaves were a recognized part of the social structure and were considered members of their master’s household. Between the years 146 B.C. and A.D. 235 the proportion of slaves to freemen is said to have been three to one. Pliny says that in the time of Augustus a freeman by the name of Caecilius held 4,116 slaves. ( Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary , Vol. 7, p. 376).
Three (3): It was not the apostle’s work to overturn arbitrarily or suddenly the established order of society. To attempt this would be to prevent the success of the gospel. But he taught principles which struck at the very foundation of slavery and which, if carried into effect, would surely undermine the whole system. ( Acts of the Apostles , pp. 459, 460).
Four (4): The trenchant social inequalities of the culture surrounding the New Testament church were thus undermined and transformed by the grace and calling of Christ. Inequality and subordination based on race, class, and sex were undermined in principle and subverted in practice. The gospel called neither for a social revolution nor for a passive acceptance of the status quo. Rather, it initiated a transformation of social relations toward equality, mutuality, and positive interdependence. (Van Leeuwen, 1993, pp. 8, 11).
Five (5): Of the importance of choice, E. G. White expresses the following regarding the choice given to humankind at the beginning:
Without freedom of choice, his obedience would not have been voluntary, but forced. There could have been no development of character. Such a course would have been contrary to God’s plan in dealing with the inhabitants of other worlds. It would have been unworthy of man as an intelligent being, and would have sustained Satan’s charge of God’s arbitrary rule. ( Patriarchs and Prophets , p. 49).
Six (6): Christ, like Paul, was willing to pay another’s debt so that the sinner may be received by all as though he had committed no wrong. Therefore, when the repentant servant returned, Philemon was not to see Onesimus and his debt, but Paul and his promise of repayment. ( SDA Bible Commentary , Vol. 7, p. 383).
Seven (7): “Picture a large circle, from the edge of which are many lines all running to the center. The nearer these lines approach the center, the nearer they are to one another. Thus it is in the Christian life. The closer we come to Christ, the nearer we shall be to one another” (Ellen G. White, The Adventist Home , 179).
Eight (8): “In the most intimate relationships of life, in our kinship with father and mother, brothers and sisters, in married love, and in our duty to the community, direct relationships are impossible. Since the coming of Christ, his followers have no more immediate realities of their own, not in their family relationships. . . nor in the relationships formed in the process of living. Between father and son, husband and wife . . . stands Christ the Mediator, whether they are able to recognize him or not. We cannot establish direct contact outside ourselves except through him, through his word, and through our following of him.
The same mediator who makes us individuals is also the founder of a new fellowship. He stands in the centre between my neighbor and myself. He divides, but he also unites. Thus although the direct way to our neighbor is barred, we now find the new and only real way to him-the way which passes through the Mediator” (Bonhoeffer, 1959, p. 86).
Nine (9): Gary Rosberg ( Choosing to Love Again , 1992, pp. 223-232) reminds us that, contrary to popular myth:
- God has the power to forget; we don’t. We cannot make ourselves forget something that has deeply hurt us. We can ask God to ease our adjustment to the pain and our subsequent memories
- Forgiveness is not impossible. Even when we don’t feel like forgiving, we can choose to offer it anyway, drawing upon God’s strength
- Even if the other person doesn’t respond, we are responsible for ourselves. We can try to close the loop, but we can’t control the other person’s response. Sometimes humbly taking the first step can start the process.
- Forgiveness does not mean nothing happened. Forgiveness is a gift, freely bestowed. Trust needs to be earned.
- Forgiveness takes time. If the offense was minor, the process may be shorter. If the offense was major, we need to be prepared for a long process. We err only if we refuse to enter the process.
Bonhoeffer, D. (1959). The cost of discipleship . London: SCM Press.
Nichol, F. D. (Ed.). (1957). Seventh-day Adventist bible commentary, Vol. 7. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association.
Rosberg, G. (1992). Choosing to love again . Colorado Springs, CO: Focus on the Family Publishing.
Van Leeuwen, M. S. (Ed.) (1993). After Eden: facing the challenge of gender reconciliation . Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
White, E. G. (1958). Patriarchs and prophets . Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association.
White, E. G. (1911). The acts of the apostles . Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association.
White, E. G. (1952). The Adventist home . Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association.
Reprinted from Karen & Ron Flowers, New Beginnings. Silver Spring, MD: Department of Family Ministries, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 2000.