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Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:10-13 KJV

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Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Information for the First Pilgrim's Progress Class,
January 8, 2020, 7 PM Central

Understanding Pilgrim’s Progress
By John Bunyan

Edited By

Gregory L. Jackson, PhD

Non-Profit – Public Domain

Illustrated by Norma A. Boeckler, 2020

Special Thanks 


Biography of John Bunyan

The origin of The Pilgrim’s Progress defies logic. We would expect the greatest of English classics, after the King James Bible, to come from someone with an excellent bloodline, education, and scholarly surroundings. He was born in Bedfordshire, England, in humble circumstances, around 1628. His father was a tinker, someone who repaired and fashioned metal objects. His parents were very poor, but they sent John to a free school, to improve his lot in life, but he was an inattentive student.
His early behavior was legendary, but for the wrong reasons:
John’s ungodliness was as advanced as it was offensive. Few could equal him in cursing, swearing, lying, and blaspheming. He was the ringleader of the village immoralities – a great sin-breeder, infecting all the youth of the neighborhood with all manner of youthful vanities. He cared nothing for Holy Scripture, preferring a ballad or the local news.[1]

He was already a soldier when he was 16 years old. Most likely he fought for the King, which is ironic. The restoration of the monarchy led to his later imprisonments. Meanwhile, he was tortured by his wanton behavior and feelings of doom. Friends suggested marriage and he wed. We do not know the young woman’s name, but she brought two books with her – The Practice of Piety, by Lewis Bayly and Arthur Dent’s The Plain Man’s Pathway to Heaven. She helped him learn to read again, but he remained fixed between some adherence and his bad habits. This continued for some time.
Bunyan came across a copy of Luther’s commentary on the book of Galatians. It was the most well-suited thing imaginable for Bunyan at this time, for Luther was a man who had similar passion and emotional contrasts. No other book was ever so precious to him, except the Word of God. Bunyan’s turmoil continued, and it is told in Grace Abounding.[2]
During this time Bunyan lost his first wife and also moved gradually into serving as a church deacon, then pastor in 1657. His church was Nonconformist, which meant they were independent of the Church of England.
Bunyan’s change from his old days was so complete that people gave credit to God’s powerful grace in this conversion, which was aided by his first wife’s Christian faith, his learning to read Christian books, and attendance in worship. Even so, he suffered great turmoil during this transition.

Second Part, Restoration and Imprisonment

The Restoration of the monarchy in 1560 created a danger to all clergy who were not Church of England. He was soon arrested and brought before a judge. Bunyan only had to cease preaching and he would be let go, but he refused and went to prison.
The result was that on November 13, 1660, Bunyan was committed to jail on the charge of going about to several illegal religious meetings in the country to the great discredit of the government of the Church of England.[3]
His second wife and friends worked to free him, but it was 12 years before Charles II let Nonconformist preachers out of prison. Bunyan suffered greatly during this time, but still continued in his work as a tinker and writer. Added to his suffering was the plight of his wife and his four children from his first marriage, the oldest one blind. His home was close to the jail, and his eldest child brought him soup and books to read. He also had short releases from his confinement and two more children born. Although he began his ministry, another persecution began and he was put in prison for another six months. His famous works - Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners and The Pilgrim’s Progress - were written in prison and published afterwards. The Pilgrim’s Progress has been published in 2001 editions, and in languages all over the world, making it the most influential book, after the King James Bible, in the English language. The first part deals with Christian and his escape from the City of Destruction, his journey toward the Celestial City. The second part concerns his wife Christiana and their children. We will cover the first part only. A third part was authored by another writer.

The Pilgrim’s Progress as an Allegory

We use figures of speech in our normal conversation, but seldom think about their use. Some come from the Bible, where the best known ones are called parables. Luke 15 is an example of parables used to introduce one of the most significant parables.
Luke 15:1-7 is the Parable of the Lost Sheep.
Luke 15:8-10 is the Parable of the Lost Coin.
Luke 15:11 begins the Parable of the Prodigal Son, illustrating the Old Testament custom of moving from the lesser (the sheep and the coin) to the greater – the Prodigal Son. The two introductory stories get us accustomed to the feelings of loss and recovery. The story of the impetuous son, the forgiving father, and the self-righteous brother teaches us the nature of our gracious heavenly Father. Concrete images and associated emotions embed the Biblical lesson.

We are heirs of Greek and Latin literature as well. We use these figures of speech or tools of rhetoric daily:
·        I almost died – Exaggeration or hyperbole.
·        The salad was like twigs and pine cones – simile.
·        He is a dog – metaphor.
·        That was no small task – litotes, a double negative used as a positive description, considered an understatement for effect.
·        He gave the wrong reason for the wrong evidence to the wrong person – anaphora, repetition of a phrase for emphasis.
Many more figures could be listed.

The allegory is the grandest tool of our language. An entire book can be an allegory. Used poorly, the result is odd or tedious. The Marriage of Mercury to Philology by Jupiter belongs in a special class – unread, unloved, and largely unknown, except among Medieval scholars. The Lord of the Rings can be seen as an extensive religious allegory, especially because J. R. R. Tolkien was a Roman Catholic. Likewise, the movie E. T. suggests similar themes, the script written by a Roman Catholic. Some allegories are quite obvious in their intent:
1.      Animal Farm, by George Orwell
2.      The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis – children see Aslan as Jesus, but adults miss that entirely, as Lewis noted.
3.      Plato’s Allegory of the Cave
4.      The Faerie Queen – by Spencer
5.      Herman Melville Moby Dick
6.      St. Paul – the armor of God – Ephesians 6
The Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory, which might be described as a parable with fictional characters. This means we should read The Pilgrim’s Progress slowly and considers its lessons. This work is not a novel, but a way to explain essential lessons from the Bible. The wealth of the book comes from its details. The author explored the challenges and temptations of Christian, the allegorical hero, on his way from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. The names and mishaps are often humorous and always instructive.
The free online version of The Pilgrim’s Progress is found here:
The printed version of The Pilgrim’s Progress is found here:

Part One Begins – The Dream and the City of Destruction

AS I WALKED through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a Den, and I laid me down in that place to sleep: and, as I slept, I dreamed a dream. I dreamed, and behold, I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back. [Isa. 64:6; Luke 14:33; Ps. 38:4; Hab. 2:2; Acts 16:30,31] I looked, and saw him open the book, and read therein; and, as he read, he wept, and trembled; and, not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry, saying, “What shall I do?” [Acts 2:37] p. 31.

Christian is symbolic for all those who struggle with the temptations of the time and the revelation of God’s Word. He tells his family about this crisis and leaves. P. 33, 39.
Evangelist serves as the gentle, gracious person who explains what must be done to escape destruction. P. 37.
The Wicket-Gate is a feature in many buildings or entrances where a smaller gate is provided for individuals. It is the narrow gate that leads to eternal life.
Pliable is easily persuaded at any given moment, but not steadfast.
Obstinate opposes whatever is suggested. P. 43.
The names represent characteristics of various people, and their actions are comical, especially in the light of the crisis of the moment, so the text is instructive and entertaining at the same time. Every part is so connected with the Scriptures that many editions have those Biblical citations noted in the text or margins.

The Slough of Despond. P. 47.

PLIABLE. At this Pliable began to be offended, and angrily said to his fellow, Is this the happiness you have told me all this while of? If we have such ill speed at our first setting out, what may we expect betwixt this and our journey’s end? May I get out again with my life, you shall possess the brave country alone for me. And, with that, he gave a desperate struggle or two, and got out of the mire on that side of the slough which was next to his own house: so away he went, and Christian saw him no more. P. 47.
HELP: Then I stepped to him that plucked him out, and said, Sir, wherefore, since over this place is the way from the City of Destruction to yonder gate, is it that this plat is not mended, that poor travelers might go thither with more security? And he said unto me, This miry slough is such a place as cannot be mended; it is the descent whither the scum and filth that attends conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore it is called the Slough of Despond; for still, as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there ariseth in his soul many fears, and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place. And this is the reason of the badness of this ground. P. 50.
Isaiah 40:2 is one of the steps for getting out of the Slough of Despond. At the same time, Pliable is back at the City of Destruction and he is wise for coming back, a fool for hazarding his life. P. 51.

Worldly Wise Directs Christian to the Village of Morality and Mr. Legality’s House

[1] Bunyan, John. Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (Updated, Illustrated): A Brief Account of God’s Exceeding Mercy through Christ to His Poor Servant, John Bunyan . Aneko Press. Kindle Edition.

[2] Bunyan, John. Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (Updated, Illustrated): A Brief Account of God’s Exceeding Mercy through Christ to His Poor Servant, John Bunyan . Aneko Press. Kindle Edition. Luther’s Galatians Lectures (also called Commentary) is recommended by the Formula of Concord for additional study of Justification by Faith.

[3] Bunyan, John. Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (Updated, Illustrated): A Brief Account of God’s Exceeding Mercy through Christ to His Poor Servant, John Bunyan . Aneko Press. Kindle Edition.