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Christian's Battle with Apollyon

As I've been preparing my message for tomorrow, which will be on the final piece of the Christian's armor, "the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" (Eph 6:17), I have revisited Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress. There is an incredible scene in Part One, where Christian battles Apollyon in the Valley of Humiliation. To whet your appetite and persuade you to read for yourself, here's the excerpt:

APOL. Then Apollyon broke out into a grievous rage, saying, I am an enemy to this Prince; I hate His person, His laws, and people; I am come out on purpose to withstand thee.

CHR. Apollyon, beware what you do; for I am in the king’s highway, the way of holiness; therefore take heed to yourself.

APOL. Then Apollyon straddled quite over the whole breadth of the way, and said, I am void of fear in this matter: prepare thyself to die; for I swear by my infernal den, that thou shalt go no further; here will I spill thy soul. And with that he threw a flaming dart at his breast; but Christian had a shield in his hand, with which he caught it, and so prevented the danger of that. Then did Christian draw; for he saw it was time to bestir him: and Apollyon as fast made at him, throwing darts as thick as hail; by the which, notwithstanding all that Christian could do to avoid it, Apollyon wounded him in his head, his hand, and foot [Bunyan, Christian wounded in his understanding, faith, and conversation]. This made Christian give a little back; Apollyon, therefore, followed his work amain, and Christian again took courage, and resisted as manfully as he could. This sore combat lasted for above half a day, even till Christian was almost quite spent; for you must know, that Christian, by reason of his wounds, must needs grow weaker and weaker. Then Apollyon, espying his opportunity, began to gather up close to Christian, and wrestling with him, gave him a dreadful fall; and with that, Christian’s sword flew out of his hand.

Then said Apollyon, I am sure of thee now. And with that he had almost pressed him to death; so that Christian began to despair of life: but as God would have it, while Apollyon was fetching of his last blow, thereby to make a full end of this good man, Christian nimbly stretched out his hand for his sword, and caught it, saying, “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise” (Micah. 7:8); and with that gave him a deadly thrust, which made him give back, as one that had received his mortal wound. Christian perceiving that, made at him again, saying, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him that loved us” (Rom.8:37). And with that Apollyon spread forth his dragon’s wings, and sped him away, that Christian for a season saw him no more (James 4:7).

In this combat no man can imagine, unless he had seen and heard as I did, what yelling and hideous roaring Apollyon made all the time of the fight—he spake like a dragon; and, on the other side, what sighs and groans burst from Christian’s heart. I never saw him all the while
give so much as one pleasant look, till he perceived he had wounded Apollyon with his two-edged sword; then, indeed, he did smile, and look upward; but it was the most dreadful sight that ever I saw. So when the battle was over, Christian said, “I will here give thanks to Him that delivered me out of the mouth of the lion, to Him that did help me against Apollyon.” And so he did, saying—

Great Beelzebub, the captain of this fiend.
Design’d my ruin; therefore to this end
He sent him harness’d out; and he with rage,
That hellish was, did fiercely me engage.
But blessed Michael helped me, and I,
By dint 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 him a hand, with some of the leaves of the tree of life, the which Christian took, and applied to the wounds that he had received in the battle, and was healed immediately. He also sat down in that place to eat bread, and to drink of the bottle that was given him a little before; so being refreshed, he addressed himself to his journey, with his sword drawn in his hand; for he said, I know not but some other enemy may be at hand. But he met with no other affront from Apollyon quite through this valley.”

You can purchase The Pilgrim's Progress in any number of editions through Amazon. Or you can download a PDF file of the book here.

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