Christian Enters into Battle with Apollyon

Taken from Sixteenth Chapter of Pilgrim’s Progress NOW Christian had not gone far in this Valley of Humiliation before he was severely tested, for he noticed a very foul fiend coming over the field to meet him; his name was Apollyon [Destroyer]. At this Christian became afraid and immediately pondered whether he ought to retreat or stand his ground. But on further consideration he realized that he had no armor on his back, and therefore to expose himself there in fleeing would probably give this foe the advantage with his use of piercing darts. So he determined to risk confrontation with this enemy. For he further thought, “If I only had in mind the saving of my life, then it would still be best to stand my ground.”

So he continued on, and Apollyon met him. Now this monster was exceedingly hideous to behold; he was clothed with scales like a fish of which he was most proud; he had wings like a dragon, feet like a bear, and out of his belly belched forth fire and smoke through a mouth like that of a lion. When he drew near to Christian, he looked down upon him with a contemptuous, sneering expression, and then commenced to question him. APOLLYON: From where have you come, and where are you going?

CHRISTIAN: I have come from that place of all evil, the City of Destruction, and am heading toward the City of Zion.

APOLLYON: So from this I conclude that you are one of my subjects since the whole of that region belongs to me; I am its prince and god! This being true, then how is it that you have run away from your king? Were it not for the fact that my plan is for you to serve me further, I would, right now, strike you to the ground with one smashing blow.

CHRISTIAN: It is true that I was born in your territories, but your employment was hard; and your wages were such that a man could not properly live on them since the wages of sin is death. Therefore when I came to adulthood, I did what other thoughtful people ought to do, and that is seek for better employment.

APOLLYON: You understand that no prince worthy of the name will easily release his subjects; and so neither will I let you go at this time. But since you have complained of your duties and salary, let me encourage you to return; I personally promise that every attempt will be made by our government to improve your wages.

CHRISTIAN: But I have yielded my loyalty to another, even to the King of princes; so in all fairness, how can I possibly return to you? APOLLYON: You have done that which the proverb describes, namely, “exchanged a bad for a worse.” Though it is quite common for those who profess themselves to be his servants, after a while, to slip away from his employment and again return to me. Do this and I assure you that all will be well.

CHRISTIAN: But I have given him my faith and sworn allegiance; so how then can I go back on my word and not be hanged as a traitor?

APOLLYON: You did the very same thing to me! Nevertheless, I am willing to let the past be forgotten if you will simply turn once more and go back to the City of Destruction.

CHRISTIAN: What I promised you then was in my nonage [as an immature youth]; and besides this, I regard my Prince, under whose banner I now stand, as able to absolve me of your charges; and even further, he is able to pardon whatever I did in serving you. And besides all this, oh you destroying Apollyon, to be perfectly truthful, I like his employment, his wages, his servants, his government, his company and country infinitely more than yours. Therefore, stop trying to change my mind and leave me alone; I am the Lord’s servant and I am determined to follow him.

APOLLYON: That is all very well; but consider what it will be like when your spirit is low and at the same time you have much to encounter in the way you are going. You are aware that, for the most part, his servants come to a wretched end because they are transgressors against me and my ways. How many of them there are who have been shamefully put to death! And furthermore, while you count his employment better than mine, yet he has never come from his heavenly residence to rescue any of his servants out of our hands. On the other hand, all the world well knows that I have, so many times, used my power and fraudulent schemes to deliver those who have faithfully served me; even when they were captured by he and his followers, still I have rescued them, and so I will also deliver you.

CHRISTIAN: His present restraint in delivering them is for the purpose of testing their love, that is proving whether they will be loyal to him to the end. And as for the sorry end that you declare is their destiny, why they are assured of receiving future glory. In fact they do not expect present deliverance; rather they are content to wait for their glory in the future, and then they shall certainly have it when their Prince comes in glory along with the angels APOLLYON: But you have already been unfaithful in serving your new Lord, so how is it possible for you to receive any wages from him?

CHRISTIAN: Tell me, oh Apollyon, in what ways have I been unfaithful to him?

APOLLYON: Very soon after leaving the City of Destruction, you were quickly discouraged when you almost drowned in the Slough of Despond. You made several wrong attempts to be rid of your burden, whereas you should have waited until your Prince relieved you of it himself. Through shameful oversleeping, you lost a very precious personal possession; also you were nearly persuaded to turn back at the sight of those fierce lions; and when you converse, as you travel, of what you have heard and seen, your inward desire is for personal glory with regard to everything that you say or do.

CHRISTIAN: All that you say is true; in fact there is much more that you have left out. But the Prince who I serve and honor is very merciful and most willing to forgive; but besides this, these misdemeanors were committed in your territory where I was educated in them; and as a consequence I have grieved over them and repented of ever doing such things. Furthermore, I have received a full pardon regarding these crimes from my Prince. APOLLYON: (In a furious rage) I am an enemy of this Prince of yours: I hate his person, his laws, and his people: for this reason I have purposely come out here to oppose you.

CHRISTIAN: Apollyon, be very careful what you are doing, for I am in the King’s highway, that is the way of holiness; so watch yourself. APOLLYON: (Now defiantly astride the whole width of the way) I am void of fear in this matter, so prepare yourself to die, for I swear by my infernal den [of iniquity] that you shall go no further; here I will spill your soul!

At this Apollyon was quick to throw a flaming dart directly at his breast; but Christian used the shield that was in his hand and deflected it, and so avoided this danger. Then in response, Christian drew his sword since he now realized it was time to stir himself. But Apollyon swiftly hurled a hail of darts that, notwithstanding all the skill that Christian could muster to avoid, yet inflicted wounds on his head as well as his hand and foot. Now this assault caused Christian to retreat a little, so that Apollyon pressed more forcefully; yet Christian again took courage and resisted as courageously as he could. This agonizing combat extended beyond half a day, even until Christian was almost exhausted. For you should know that Christian, on account of his wounds, inevitably grew weaker and weaker. Then Apollyon, recognizing his opportunity, began to press closer upon Christian and, now wrestling with him, heavily threw him to the ground. As a result, Christian’s sword flew out of his hand. Then Apollyon gleefully exclaimed, “I am sure of you now,” and immediately he drew close intending to inflict a mortal wound.

At this point Christian began to despair of staying alive. But, as God would have it, while Apollyon was preparing his final blow so as to destroy this good man, yet Christian was enabled to nimbly stretch out his hand and regain a grip on his sword. At the same time he cried out, “Do not rejoice against me, oh my implacable enemy, for when I fall, I shall yet arise.” Then he gave Apollyon a deadly thrust which caused him to draw back as if he had received a fatal wound. Now in perceiving this, Christian moved in upon him while declaring, “Even so, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” As a result, Apollyon quickly spread out his dragon’s wings and fled away so that Christian saw him no more. Now unless any man had seen and heard the intensity of this combat as I did, he could not possibly imagine the yelling and hideous roaring of Apollyon, as well as his dragon-like manner of speaking. On the other hand, what sighs and groans there were that burst forth from Christian’s heart. During the whole encounter I never saw him give so much as one pleasant look, that is until he was aware of his wounding of Apollyon with his two- edged sword; but then he smiled broadly and at the same time looked upward. However, on the whole, this was the most dreadful sight that I had ever seen. So when the battle was over, Christian declared, “I will here give thanks to him who has delivered me out of the mouth of the lion, that is against Apollyon;” and so he spoke with gratitude as follows:

Great Beelzebub, the captain of this fiend, Designed my ruin; therefore to this end

He sent him harnessed out, and he with rage That hellish was, did fiercely me engage.

But blessed Michael helped me, and I

By dint [blow] of sword did quickly make him fly. Therefore to him let me give lasting praise,

And thank and bless his holy name always. Then there came to Christian a hand in which were some of the leaves of the Tree of Life, and taking these he applied them to the wounds that he had received in the battle; as a result he was immediately healed. He also sat down at that same place to eat bread and drink from the bottle that had earlier been given to him. So being refreshed, he prepared himself for moving forward in his journey. Now his sword was already drawn in his hand, for he said, “I do not know if some other enemy may be near at hand.” Even so, he did not meet with any further opposition from Apollyon, that is throughout the remainder of this valley.

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