Cloud of witnesses – Cyril Lucaris, Patriarch of Constantinople



Cyril Lucaris, Patriarch of Constantinople, public domain, via WikimediaWe believe that man is justified by faith, not by works. But when we say ‘by faith,’ we understand the correlative of faith, viz., the Righteousness of Christ, which faith, fulfilling the office of the hand, apprehends and applies to us for salvation. And this we understand to be fully consistent with, and in no wise to the prejudice of, works; for the truth itself teaches us that works also are not to be neglected, and that they are necessary means and testimonies of our faith, and a confirmation of our calling. But, as human frailty bears witness, they are of themselves by no means sufficient to save man, and able to appear at the judgment-seat of Christ, so as to merit the reward of salvation. The righteousness of Christ, applied to the penitent, alone justifies and saves the believer.


Cyrillus Lucaris (Kyrillos Loukaris)

Christian Classics Ethereal Library: Creeds of Christendom, Philip Scaff, Volume 1, The Confession of Cyril Lucar, A.D. 1631


The following is the short bio of Cyril found in The Pilgrim Church by E. H. Broadbent (Gospel Folio Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1999, pp. 334-335).

“The Greek Orthodox Church differed from the Roman Catholic Church in that it had not gone through any experience comparable to the Reformation, but an attempt to introduce the principles of the Reformation into it was made, and that in the highest quarters. Cyril Lucas, a native of Crete, was known as the most learned man of his day. He was made successively Patriarch of Alexandria (1602) and of Constantinople (1621). It was he who discovered on Mount Athos a fifth century MS. which was then the oldest Greek Bible known. He sent it from Alexandria to Charles I, King of England, and it is in the British Museum, known as the Codex Alexandrinus. While still Patriarch of Alexandria, Cyril began a careful comparison of the doctrines of the Greek, Roman, and Reformed churches with the Scriptures and decided to leave the Fathers and accept the Scriptures as his guide.

“Finding the teaching of the Reformers more in accordance with the Scriptures than those of the Greek or Roman churches, he published a Confession in which he declared himself in many respects one with the Reformers. ‘I can no longer endure,’ he said, ‘to hear a man say that the comments of human tradition are of equal weight with Holy Scripture.’ He vigorously denounced the doctrine of transubstantiation and worship of images. He taught that the one true Catholic Church must include all the faithful in Christ, but, he said, there are visible churches in different places at different times. These are capable of error and the Scriptures are given as an infallible guide and authority to which we must always return; so he commended the constant study of Scripture, which the Holy Spirit will enable those who are born again to understand as they compare one part of it with another.

“Such teachings coming from such a source excited great discussion and Cyril Lucas was involved in strenuous conflict. Five times he was banished and as often recalled. The Sultan’s Grand Vizier trusted and supported him, but this, while enabling him to keep his position, injured his testimony, as it was felt to be incongruous that a Christian teacher should depend for support on a Muslim politician. At a synod of the Greek Church held in Bethlehem, a general confirmation of the old order in the Orthodox Church was reached, deprecating reform. But the most effective opposition to this Greek Reformer came from the Latin Church, which through Jesuit intrigues repeatedly hindered his work, and at last by misrepresenting him in his absence to the Sultan Amurath, as this latter was marching on Baghdad, obtained a hasty order for his death. He was strangled with a bowstring in Constantinople and his body cast into the sea. After his death, synod after synod condemned his doctrines.”


Cyril Lucaris – bio in

Codex Alexandrinus (A) at




18 thoughts on “Cloud of witnesses – Cyril Lucaris, Patriarch of Constantinople

  1. I like the slogan, “Good works are necessary–but not for salvation.” I also like the comparison of Christian faith to an apple tree. A living, healthy tree produces good fruit, but the fruit does not cause the life of the tree. In the same way, a healthy Christian faith produces good fruit, but the fruit does not cause the life of the faith. J.

    Liked by 2 people

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