Talk between Christian and Pliable

God's things unspeakable

Titus 1:2

Isaiah 45:17

John 10:27-29

2 Timothy 4:8

Revelation  3:4

Matthew 13

Isaiah 25:8

Revelation 7:16-17, 21:4

Isaiah 6:4

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Revelation 5:11

Revelation 4:4

Revelation 14:1-5

John 12:25

2 Corinthians 5:2-3, 5

Isaiah 55:12, John 7:37, 6:37, Revelation 21:6, 22:17

Commentary and full references

Talk between Christian and Pliable

God's things unspeakable

Titus 1:2

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began

Isaiah 45:17 

But Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.

John 10:27-29

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

2 Timothy 4:8

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Revelation  3:4

Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

Matthew 13

Isaiah 25:8

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.

Revelation 7:16-17, 21:4

They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.

For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

Isaiah 6:4

And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Revelation 5:11

And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;

Revelation 4:4

And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.

Revelation 14:1-5

And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.

And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:

And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.

These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.

And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.

John 12:25

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

2 Corinthians 5:2-3, 5

For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:

If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.[...]Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

Isaiah 55:12,

For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

John 7:37, 6:37,

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.[...] All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

 

Revelation 21:6, 22:17

And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.[...] And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Commentary

POWERS AND TERRORS OF WHAT IS YET UNSEEN -'powers' reminds the bible reader of the 'principalities and powers' that arraign themselves against the believer, albeit invisibly, Ephesians 6:12. It is clear that Bunyan means his warning about the 'yet unseen' to be about the perils attending future judgment.

GIVEN US THE BACK - turned his back on us, referring to Obstinate.

CONCEIVE OF THEM WITH MY MIND, THAN SPEAK OF THEM WITH MY TONGUE- Christian affects a timidity of speech, recalling Moses (Ex 4:10), or Paul (1 Cor 2:1-4), both of whom are equipped with words. Noticeably, from the marginal references, and Christian's subsequent eloquence Bunyan is keen for his readers to speak that which is authorized for them by Scripture and not from speculation, in way that the Spirit supplies the words of those who testify to the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ (Luke 12:12, 2 Peter 1:20-21). Bunyan supplies the marginal note: 'God's things unspeakable' which language alludes to the 'joy unspeakable' (1 Peter 1:8) at the yet unseen reality of Jesus Christ.

WORDS OF YOUR BOOK ARE CERTAINLY TRUE? - the reader is directed to the key question for the nonconformist Protestant Christian who leans of Scripture alone.

MADE BY HIM THAT CANNOT LYE - marginal reference to Titus 1:2 "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began" in keeping with the theme of the conversation.

ENDLESS KINGDOM TO BE INHABITED - marginal references to Isaiah 45:17 (not Isa 4:5,17 as in some editions); an everlasting kingdom is promised to David, and reiterated through the Psalms (145:13) through to Daniel (4:3, 7:18), and into the New Testament (throughout) and note Hebrews 1:8, 12:28. We should note that a simple reference to kingdom would have had both religious and political overtones, recognizing that Bunyan's readers might have a conflicted opinion of monarchy in England, but still understanding kingdom to be about sovereign rule different to many constitutional arrangements today, still more different to democratic republics where the language is solely heard as religious or spiritual.

EVERLASTING LIFE - John 10:27-29 is given by Bunyan as a marginal reference, which is fascinating for its pastoral tone of assurance within an expression of election and perseverance (shall not be plucked away).

CROWNS OF GLORY - Revelation 3:4 is given as the marginal reference. 'Crown of glory' as a phrase occurs a number of times in the KJV (Proverbs 4:9, 16:31, 17:6; Isaiah 28:5, 62:3) , but not in Revelation 3:4, nor the even more fanciful Rev 23:4 given in the London Folio edition. Revelation 2:10 would be the closest offering, using another common phrasing.  1 Peter 5:4 is the New Testament's word for word fit.

GARMENTS ...SHINE LIKE THE SUN IN THE FIRMAMENT OF HEAVEN - Bunyan's Matthew 13 reference is vague but can be narrowed down to 13:43, ' Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.' The 'firmament of heaven' language is an allusion to Genesis 1 and the creation of the lights in vv15, 17. Shining garments is most closely evocative of Jesus' transfiguration (Mark 9:2-3: And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.) then associated with the glorified resurrection state.

NO MORE CRYING, NOR SORROW, WIPE TEARS- Marginal reference to Isaiah 25 and Revelation 7 and 21:4, with an emphasis that it is the owner of the place who will do this.

SERAPHIMS, AND CHERUBIMS - Seraphims are understood to an order of angelic beings only found in Isaiah 6. Cherubims are found more commonly. Both angelic forms guard or protect the presence of God, to Eden, to the tabernacle, the ark of the covenant , and the temple and its mercy seat of atonement. 

MEET WITH THOUSANDS AND TEN THOUSANDS THAT HAVE GONE BEFORE US - 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 evinces a meeting with the Lord, but it is accompanied in the wider passage with assurance that those who have died (gone before us) will also take part in this meeting. Revelation 5:11 enumeratees the angelic beings caught up in worship of the Lamb that was slain. Rev 5:13 sees all living  creatures take up the worship anthem which maybe how Bunyan intends the readers to sees his thousands as those that have gone before us and not just the angelic host.

WALKING IN THE SIGHT OF GOD - Enoch (Gen 5:22, 24), Noah (Gen 6:9) and Abraham (Gen 17:1) are said to walk with God, whereas Adam and Eve hide from God walking in the Garden (Gen 3:8). The immediate presence of God in the Heavenly Jerusalem (Rev 21, 22) offers the renewed prospect of that walking.

STANDING IN HIS PRESENCE WITH ACCEPTANCE : The standing evokes Rev 20:12 the posture of those facing judgment in the presence of God, qualified by the acceptance for ever.

ELDERS...CROWNS : A picture of heaven unveiled in Revelation 4:4

HOLY VIRGINS...HARPS : a conflation of the celestial worship in Revelation 14 with the added detail of the harps being golden to match the crowns; for the general goldneness of heaven (Rev 21:21).

MEN THAT BY THE WORLD WERE CUT TO PIECES: Bunyan gives John 12:25 to the effect that followers of Jesus will hate their mortal life to gain eternal life; but the details are more obviously again an allusion to Hebrews 11:33-38, but more nearly for his readers to the English Protestant martyrs of Marian persecution celebrated in Foxe's Book of Martyrs.

CLOATHED WITH IMMORTALITY: Bunyan gives 2 Cor 5 as his supporting Scripture, but also echoes 1 Cor 15:53; for garments of salvation see Isaiah 61:10.

RAVISH ONES HEART - Song of Solomon 4:9: 'Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.' The allusion here is in keeping with BUnyan's spiritualizing reading according to typology.

LORD, THE GOVERNOUR OF THAT COUNTREY, RECORDED THAT IN THIS BOOK - The one who rules this glorious country is the one who records the guidance Christian is commending to Pliable in the Bible. The language of Lord and Governour again actively belong in the socio-political context as well as at least the former's clear spiritual sense. 

IF WE BE TRULY WILLING TO HAVE IT, HE WILL BESTOW IS UPON US FREELY- Bunyan assembles a medley of Scripture references to underline the free offer of salvation for those who are willing to receive it; and interesting juxtaposition for those who see the earlier reference to John 10 to be overly Calvinist in relation to the perseverance of the elect saints.

MEND OUR PACE- speed up, or pick up the pace.

Now I saw in my dream, that when Obstinate was gone back, Christian and Pliable went talking over the plain; and thus they began their discourse.

Christian: Come, neighbor Pliable, how do you do? I am glad you are persuaded to go along with me. Had even Obstinate himself but felt what I have felt of the powers and terrors of what is yet unseen, he would not thus lightly have given us the back.

Pliable: Come, neighbor Christian, since there are none but us two here, tell me now farther, what the things are, and how to be enjoyed, whither we are going.

Christian: I can better conceive of them with my mind, than speak of them with my tongue: but yet, since you are desirous to know, I will read of them in my book.

Pliable: And do you think that the words of your book are certainly true?

Christian: Yes, verily; for it was made by Him that cannot lie.

Pliable: Well said; what things are they?

Christian: There is an endless kingdom to be inhabited, and everlasting life to be given us, that we may inhabit that kingdom for ever.

Pliable: Well said; and what else?

Christian: There are crowns of glory to be given us; and garments that will make us shine like the sun in the firmament of heaven.

Pliable: This is very pleasant; and what else?

Christian: There shall be no more crying, nor sorrow; for he that is owner of the place will wipe all tears from our eyes. 

Pliable: And what company shall we have there?

Christian: There we shall be with seraphims and cherubims; creatures that will dazzle your eyes to look on them. There also you shall meet with thousands and ten thousands that have gone before us to that place; none of them are hurtful, but loving and holy; every one walking in the sight of God, and standing in his presence with acceptance for ever. In a word, there we shall see the elders with their golden crowns; there we shall see the holy virgins with their golden harps; there we shall see men, that by the world were cut in pieces, burnt in flames, eaten of beasts, drowned in the seas, for the love they bare to the Lord of the place; all well, and clothed with immortality as with a garment.

Pliable: The hearing of this is enough to ravish one’s heart. But are these things to be enjoyed? How shall we get to be sharers thereof?

Christian: The Lord, the governor of the country, hath recorded that in this book; the substance of which is, if we be truly willing to have it, he will bestow it upon us freely.

Pliable: Well, my good companion, glad am I to hear of these things: come on, let us mend our pace.

Christian: I cannot go as fast as I would, by reason of this burden that is on my back.