The Pilgrim's Progress Version Comparison

The Pilgrims Progress Cover 3D

The Pilgrim’s Progress: A Modern-Day Version on John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress takes Bunyan’s original text and interprets it for the modern-day reader. It does so by converting this original antiquated text into simple conversational English without being unfaithful to the original. In fact, if you compare the two versions, you will find no key element missing.

What you will find is sentence construction and certain interpretations of character reactions modified or enhanced to produce a more contemporary style of expression without sacrificing the intrinsic message. Also, instead of using the archaic term “stages” to separate book sections, you will find chapter headings and subdivisions as well as the marginal scriptural references included by Bunyan.

Take a few minutes and review this classic battle between Christian and Apollyon from John Bunyan’s original version and the New Modern-Day Version.

John Bunyan's Original Version

But now, in this valley of Humiliation, poor Christian was hard put to it; for he had gone but a little way before he espied a foul fiend coming over the field to meet him: his name is Apollyon. 

Then did Christian begin to be afraid, and to cast in his mind whether to go back, or to stand his ground. But he considered again, that he had no armor for his back, and therefore thought that to turn the back to him might give him greater advantage with ease to pierce him with his darts; therefore he resolved to venture and stand his ground: for, thought he, had I no more in mine eye 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, and they are his pride; he had wings like a dragon, and feet like a bear, and out of his belly came fire and smoke; and his mouth was as the mouth of a lion. When he was come up to Christian, he beheld him with a disdainful countenance, and thus began to question him.

Apollyon: Whence came you, and whither are you bound?

Christian: I am come from the city of Destruction, which is the place of all evil, and I am going to the city of Zion.

Apollyon: By this I perceive thou art one of my subjects; for all that country is mine, and I am the prince and god of it. How is it, then, that thou hast run away from thy king? Were it not that I hope thou mayest do me more service, I would strike thee now at one blow to the ground.

Christian: I was, indeed, born in your dominions, but your service was hard, and your wages such as a man could not live on; for the wages of sin is death, therefore, when I was come to years, I did, as other considerate persons do, look out if perhaps I might mend myself.

Apollyon: There is no prince that will thus lightly lose his subjects, neither will I as yet lose thee; but since thou complainest of thy service and wages, be content to go back, and what our country will afford I do here promise to give thee.

Christian: But I have let myself to another, even to the King of princes; and how can I with fairness go back with thee?

Apollyon: Thou hast done in this according to the proverb, “changed a bad for a worse;” but it is ordinary for those that have professed themselves his servants, after a while to give him the slip, and return again to me. Do thou so too, and all shall be well.

Christian: I have given him my faith, and sworn my allegiance to him; how then can I go back from this, and not be hanged as a traitor.

Apollyon: Thou didst the same by me, and yet I am willing to pass by all, if now thou wilt yet turn again and go back.

Christian: What I promised thee was in my non-age: and besides, I count that the Prince, under whose banner I now stand, is able to absolve me, yea, and to pardon also what I did as to my compliance with thee. And besides, O thou destroying Apollyon, to speak truth, I like his service, his wages, his servants, his government, his company, and country, better than thine; therefore leave off to persuade me farther: I am his servant, and I will follow him.

Apollyon: Consider again, when thou art in cool blood, what thou art like to meet with in the way that thou goest. Thou knowest that for the most part his servants come to an ill end, because they are transgressors against me and my ways. How many of them have been put to shameful deaths! And besides, thou countest his service better than mine; whereas he never yet came from the place where he is, to deliver any that served him out of their enemies’ hands: but as for me, how many times, as all the world very well knows, have I delivered, either by power or fraud, those that have faithfully served me, from him and his, though taken by them! And so will I deliver thee.

Christian: His forbearing at present to deliver them, is on purpose to try their love, whether they will cleave to him to the end: and as for the ill end thou sayest they come to, that is most glorious in their account. For, for present deliverance, they do not much expect it; for they stay for their glory; and then they shall have it, when their Prince comes in his and the glory of the angels.

Apollyon: Thou hast already been unfaithful in thy service to him; and how dost thou think to receive wages of him?

Christian: Wherein, O Apollyon, have I been unfaithful to him?

Apollyon: Thou didst faint at first setting out, when thou wast almost choked in the gulf of Despond. Thou didst attempt wrong ways to be rid of thy burden, whereas thou shouldst have stayed till thy Prince had taken it off. Thou didst sinfully sleep, and lose thy choice things. Thou wast almost persuaded also to go back at the sight of the lions. And when thou talkest of thy journey, and of what thou hast seen and heard, thou art inwardly desirous of vainglory in all that thou sayest or doest.

Christian: All this is true, and much more which thou hast left out; but the Prince whom I serve and honor is merciful, and ready to forgive. But besides, these infirmities possessed me in thy country, for there I sucked them in, and I have groaned under them, been sorry for them, and have obtained pardon of my Prince.

Apollyon: 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.

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

Apollyon: 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 farther: 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. 

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 his last blow, thereby to make a full end of this good man, Christian nimbly reached out his hand for his sword, and caught it, saying, Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise, 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. And with that Apollyon spread forth his dragon wings, and sped him away, that Christian saw him no more.

New Modern-Day Version

Christian found it difficult traveling through the Valley of Humiliation. The Way was hard, and he had only gone a short distance when he spotted an evil beast named Apollyon (meaning destroyer) coming across the field to meet him.

The sight of Apollyon filled Christian with fear, and he wondered whether he should turn and run or stand his ground. After considering his options, he realized that if he were to turn and run, he would be easy prey for Apollyon to shoot him with darts since he had no armor for his back. So he decided to go forward and stand his ground, knowing it was the only way to truly save his life. He gripped his sword for comfort and walked forward on the path to meet Apollyon.

Now, the beast was hideous and clothed with scales like a fish (these were his pride). He had wings like a dragon and feet like a bear; out of his belly spewed fire and smoke, and he had the mouth of a lion.

He approached Christian, looking at him in disdain then sharply barked, “Where did you come from, and where are you going?”

Christian cleared his throat and timidly responded, “I came from the evil City of Destruction, and I’m going to the City of Zion.”

“Ah…then you’re one of my subjects because that City of Destruction is mine. You see, I’m its prince and god.” Apollyon’s eyes narrowed in on Christian as if he might strike him at any moment. “Why have you run away from your king? If I thought you were unable to provide me any more work, I would strike you to the ground with one blow.”

Even though he was scared, Christian stood up straight and bravely said, “Yes, it’s true that I was born in your land, but you worked us too hard, and no man could live on your wages, for the wages of sin is death. So when I became of age, I did as any other thoughtful person might do and tried to renew myself.”

“No prince likes to lose his subjects, and I do not intend to lose you.” An evil smile formed around his lion-shaped mouth, revealing his jagged teeth. “But since you have complained of your work and wages, I personally promise to pay you as much as our land can afford if you will go back.”

Christian shook his head and said, “That’s not an option. I’ve already sold myself to the King of princes. In all fairness, how can I go back with you?”

Apollyon’s smile disappeared. He gritted his teeth and took a step toward Christian. “It seems to me as though your decisions have gone from bad to worse. But I’m not surprised. Many have professed themselves to this King you mentioned but, after a while, gave Him the slip and returned to me. You will do so too eventually, and all will be well.”

Christian was shocked at the assertion that he would abandon his King. “I’ve professed my faith and sworn my allegiance to Him! How can I go back on this and not be hanged as a traitor?”

Apollyon just shrugged his shoulders. “You did the same to me, and yet here I am, willing to let it all go if you will just turn and go back to the City of Destruction.”

“Any commitment I made to you was in my youth. I’m confident that the King under whose banner I now stand will both absolve and pardon me for what I did while working for you.” Christian, now feeling a little more confident, took a step forward. “And let me offer some more truth, you who destroy! I like His work, His wages, His servants, His government, His company, and His land much better than yours. Leave me alone and do not try to persuade me anymore. I’m His servant now and will follow Him!”

“Perhaps you should cool down and rethink this path you’re on while you still can,” Apollyon snarled. “You are aware that for the most part, His servants have come to an early grave because they resisted me and my ways, and many have even been put to shameful deaths!”

Apollyon paused to let what he had said sink in then added, “And besides, why do you think His work is better than mine? He has never come to rescue any of His servants out of their enemies’ hands. But as for me, how many times, as all the world very well knows, have I delivered, either by power or fraud, those who have faithfully served me even when they were taken by Him and His followers! And so I will deliver you, Christian.”

Christian took another step forward, feeling braver with each step. “You have it all wrong, Apollyon! Any delay on deliverance is on purpose to test their love and to prove whether they will be loyal to Him to the end. And even though you think they came to a deadly end, they were immediately delivered into glory! In this life, they do not expect to be delivered, for they know they will receive their glory when the King comes in His glory with the angels.”

This made Apollyon howl in anger as he pointed his bony finger at Christian. “You have already been unfaithful in your service to Him, so how do you expect to receive wages from Him?”

Christian took yet another step forward, gripping his sword tighter. “Tell me, Apollyon, where have I been unfaithful to Him?”

Apollyon’s indignation was evident as he spoke quickly, spewing smoke from his nostrils. “You were unfaithful when you first set out and almost drowned in the Swamp of Despair. You were unfaithful trying to rid yourself of your burden the wrong way when you should have waited for your King to take it off. You were unfaithful when you fell into a sinful sleep and lost the certificate. You were unfaithful when you were almost persuaded to go back at the sight of the lions on the Way.”

Apollyon stopped and glared at Christian as if he had him then said in a mocking tone, “And when you talked of your journey and all that you have seen and heard, oh, how you inwardly desired everyone’s praise, and your pride was evident for all to see.”

Christian nodded in agreement. “Yes, Apollyon. All of this is true and even much more that you have left out. But the King whom I serve and honor is merciful and ready to forgive me.”

Taking another step toward the beast he said, “The fact is, I had many weaknesses in your land, mainly because I was brought up, and educated that way. But now that weight has been lifted and I’m sorry for them. Most importantly, I’ve obtained pardon from my King.”

Then Apollyon broke out into a great rage and said, “I hate that King, and I hate His laws and people. I’ve come out with the sole purpose of standing against you!”

Christian put one hand on his sword and held up the other. “Apollyon, beware what you do, for I’m on the King’s highway, the way of holiness. This is your final warning!”

Then Apollyon straddled the entire path in front of Christian, blocking the Way. “I don’t fear anything you say,” he hissed. “Prepare to die! I swear by my infernal den that you will go no farther. It’s here that I will spill your soul.”

Without even hesitating, Apollyon shot a flaming dart at his chest! But Christian had the shield in his hand, and with it, he was able to intercept the arrows and avoid danger.

Christian drew his sword quickly, knowing it was time to attack, but Apollyon was quicker and charged at him, shooting darts as thick as hail. Christian did all he could to defend himself and fight back, but Apollyon began to overpower him and inflicted wounds to his head, hand, and foot. This caused Christian to fall back a little, leading Apollyon to follow with another round of forceful attacks.

This severe combat lasted for over half a day. Christian was courageous and fought as bravely as he could, but his wounds were deep and he was exhausted, growing weaker and weaker with each attack.

Then Apollyon, seeing his opportunity, forced himself closer to Christian and, wrestling with him, threw him down with such great force that the sword flew out of Christian’s hand.

“I’ve got you now!” Apollyon screeched with delight as he began to beat him mercilessly so that Christian wished he was dead.

But by the grace of God, while Apollyon was preparing for his fatal blow, Christian quickly reached out his hand, felt for his double-edged sword, and grabbed it. “Don’t celebrate just yet, Apollyon, because when I fall, I will rise!”

And with that, Christian thrust his sword into Apollyon, which made the beast fall back as if he was mortally wounded. Seizing his opportunity, Christian swung his sword again, striking the beast and yelling, “Even so, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us!” Then Apollyon spread out his dragon wings and quickly sped away until Christian could see him no more.