But now, in this Valley of Humiliation, poor Christian was grievously challenged. He had gone but a little way, before he spotted a foul fiend coming over the field to contend with him — his name was Apollyon. Then Christian began to be afraid, and to deliberate whether to go back or to stand his ground. But he again reasoned that he had no armor for his back. He therefore thought that to turn his back to Apollyon might give the fiend the greater advantage to easily pierce him with his darts. Therefore Christian resolved to stand his ground, for he thought, “Had I no more in my mind than the saving of my life, it would be the best way to stand.”
So he went on, and Apollyon met him. Now the monster was hideous to behold — he was clothed with scales like a fish, he had wings like a dragon, feet like a bear, out of his belly came fire and smoke, and his mouth was like the mouth of a lion! When he had come up to Christian, he looked upon him with an arrogant stare, and thus began to dispute with him.
APOLLYON: “Where have you come from — and where are you going?”
CHRISTIAN: “I have come from the City of Destruction, which is the place of all evil — and am going to the Celestial City.”
APOLLYON: “By this I perceive that you are one of my subjects, for all that country is mine, and I am the prince of it. How is it, then, that you have run away from your monarch? Were it not that I hope you would return to my service, I would strike you down with one blow, to the ground!”
CHRISTIAN: “I was born, indeed, in your dominions — but your service was hard, and your wages were such as a man could not live on, for the wages of sin is death!”
APOLLYON: “There is no prince who will thus lightly lose his subjects — nor will I lose you! But since you complain of your service and wages — be content to come back, and the best that our country can afford, I promise to give you.”
CHRISTIAN: “But I have pledged myself to another, even to the King of princes — so how can I, with fairness, go back with you?”
APOLLYON: “You have gone from bad to worse! It is common for those who have professed themselves to be His servants, after a while to give Him the slip, and return again to me. If you do so also, then all shall be well for you.”
CHRISTIAN: “I have sworn my allegiance to Him. How, then, can I go back, and not be hanged as a traitor?”
APOLLYON: “You did the same to me, and yet I am willing to overlook that — if now you will yet turn again and come back.”
CHRISTIAN: “What I promised to you was from my youthful foolishness. Besides, the King under whose banner I now stand is able to absolve me — yes, and to pardon my former compliance with you. Besides, O destroying Apollyon, to speak the truth, I like His service, His wages, His servants, His government, His company, and His country, better than yours. Therefore, cease trying to persuade me further. I am His servant, and I will follow Him!”
APOLLYON: “Consider again, what you are likely to meet with along the way that you are now going. You know 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 have been put to shameful deaths! And, besides, you count His service better than mine — but He never delivers any who serve Him out of my hands. But as for me, how many times, as all the world very well knows, have I delivered those who have faithfully served me from Him — either by power or fraud. Just so, I will deliver you.”
CHRISTIAN: “His refraining to deliver His servants at present, is on purpose to test their love — whether they will cleave to Him to the end. You say that they will come to a wretched ending — but in fact, it is most glorious. As for present deliverance, they do not much expect it, for they patiently wait for their triumph — and they shall have it when their King comes in His glory with all of His angels.”
APOLLYON: “You have already been unfaithful in your service to Him — so why do you think that you will receive His wages?”
CHRISTIAN: “In what, O Apollyon, have I been unfaithful to Him?”
APOLLYON: “You were discouraged at first setting out, when you were almost choked in the Swamp of Despond! You attempted wrong ways to be rid of your burden — whereas you should have waited until your King had taken it off! You sinfully slept and lost your scroll! At the sight of the lions, you were almost persuaded to go back! And when you talked of your journey, and of what you have heard and seen, you were secretly proud of all that you said and did!”
CHRISTIAN: “All this is true, and much more which you have left out! But the King whom I serve and honor, is merciful, and ready to forgive. Besides, I acquired these infirmities in your country — and I have groaned under them, been sorry for them, and have obtained pardon from my King.”
Then Apollyon broke out into a furious rage, saying, “I am an enemy to this King! I hate His person, His laws, and His people! I have come out on purpose to destroy you!”
CHRISTIAN: “Apollyon, beware what you do! I am on the King’s highway, the way of holiness — therefore take heed!”
Then Apollyon straddled over the whole road, and said, “I am not afraid. Prepare yourself to die! I swear by my infernal den, that you shall go no further. Here I will spill your blood!”
And with that, Apollyon threw a flaming dart at his heart — but Christian had a shield in his hand, with which he caught the dart, and so prevented that danger.
Then Christian prepared himself for battle, as Apollyon rushed at him, throwing darts as thick as hail! Yet notwithstanding all that Christian could do to avoid it, Apollyon wounded him in his head, his hand, and his foot — this made Christian slightly retreat.
Apollyon, therefore, continued his furious attack. Christian again took courage, and resisted as manfully as he could. This intense combat lasted for more than half a day — until Christian was nearly exhausted. For Christian, because of his wounds, was becoming weaker and weaker.
Then Apollyon, seeing his opportunity, forced himself closer to Christian, and wrestling with him, gave him a dreadful fall — and with that, Christian’s sword flew out of his hand. Then Apollyon almost pressed him to death — so that Christian began to despair of life.
Then Apollyon exclaimed, “I am sure of you now!”
But as God would have it, while Apollyon was fetching his last blow to make a full end of him, Christian nimbly stretched out his hand for his sword, and grasped it, saying, “Do not gloat over me, O my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will again rise!” And with that, he gave Apollyon a deadly thrust, which made him fall back, as one who had received a mortal wound.
Christian perceiving that, rushed at him, saying, “In all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him who loved us!”
And with that, Apollyon spread his dragon wings, and sped away, so that Christian saw him no more for a season.
No man can imagine what yelling and hideous roaring Apollyon made during all this combat — and on the other side, what sighs and groans burst from Christian’s heart. He struggled fiercely, until he perceived that he had wounded Apollyon with his two-edged sword. Then, indeed, he looked upward with thanksgiving.
So when the battle was over, Christian said, “I will here give thanks to Him who delivered me out of the mouth of the lion — to Him who helped me against Apollyon.”
Then a hand came to him, with some of the leaves of the Tree of Life — which Christian took, and applied to the wounds which he had received in the battle, and was healed immediately. He also sat down to eat the bread, and to drink from the bottle which were given to him at the Palace Beautiful.
So being refreshed, Christian continued his journey, with his sword drawn in his hand; for he thought, “I do not know but that some other enemy may be nearby.” But he met with no other attack from Apollyon through the remainder of the valley.