Christian asks Hopeful if he knows of a fellow named Temporary, who was religious and who resolved to go on a pilgrimage as they are doing now. Hopeful knows of the man. Christian says that Temporary’s resolve only lasted a short time, until he met someone named Saveself and stopped talking to Christian. Temporary’s example leads Hopeful to ask that they discuss the causes of spiritual backsliding in general. Hopeful explains that fear, shame, and guilt are all causes for the devout to lose sight of their salvation. He lists some key symptoms of backsliders, including the abandonment of duties, association with loose people, and the shunning of Christian friends.
Christian and Hopeful are told they face more difficulties. Two of the three Shining Ones encourage them onward. One difficulty soon appears before them: a river flowing between them and the city gate. There is no bridge, so when they try to cross, Christian feels himself start to sink, despairing of reaching his goal. He tells Hopeful he fears he will never see the land of milk and honey. Hopeful urges him on, but Christian tells him to go on without him. Then Hopeful mentions Jesus Christ, who wishes Christian well. The vision of Christ gives Christian new hope, and they emerge from the river.
The Shining Ones lead them up to the gate of the City on a tall hill, where trumpeters greet them. Christian and Hopeful realize they have lost their mortal garments in the river. The Shining Ones beseech the king of the City to open the gate. The king announces that anyone who keeps God’s truth may enter and commands that the gate open for Christian and Hopeful. They enter and are clothed in garments of gold.
After watching Christian and Hopeful enter through the gate, the narrator wishes he were with them. Ignorance is shut out of the City because he is without a certificate of entry and is sent to hell. The narrator wakes up from his dream.
In the conclusion, the narrator says that he has told his dream and invites the reader to interpret it. Though he warns of the dangers of interpreting his dream wrongly, the narrator also cautions against playing around with the obvious surface content of the tale, being entertained by it rather than instructed. He says that, just as no one throws away an apple to save the core, so too must no one throw away the essence of his story to save its inessential parts.
Christian’s discussion of Temporary displays his spiritual confidence near the end of his journey. Like his earlier tale about Little-Faith, his story about Temporary demonstrates that Christian possesses the certitude necessary to analyze cases of pilgrims who fail. In earlier chapters, he was not sure enough of his own success to make such judgments. After all, Temporary’s story reveals the risk of Christian’s own position, since Temporary also felt saved until he failed to follow through on his spiritual achievement. Christian could backslide also, at least theoretically. Temporary’s fate could be his own. But he understands himself and his progress enough to trust that he will succeed where Temporary failed.