of the world, this Church was prepared in marvellous fashion in the
history of the people of Israel and the old Alliance. Established in this
last age of theworld andmademanifest in the outpouring of the Spirit,
it will be brought to glorious completion at the end of time.”
The Church—foreshadowed from the world’s beginning
Christians of the first centuries said, “The world was cre-
ated for the sake of the Church.”
God created the world for the
sake of communion with his divine life, a communion brought
about by the “convocation” of men in Christ, and this “convoca-
tion” is the Church. The Church is the goal of all things,
permitted such painful upheavals as the angels’ fall and man’s sin
only as occasions and means for displaying all the power of his arm
and the whole measure of the love he wanted to give the world:
Just as God’s will is creation and is called “the world,” so his
intention is the salvationofmen, and it is called“theChurch.”
The Church—prepared for in the Old Covenant
The gathering together of the People of God began at the
moment when sin destroyed the communion of men with God, and
that ofmen among themselves. The gathering together of the Church
is, as it were, God’s reaction to the chaos provoked by sin. This
reunification is achieved secretly in the heart of all peoples: “In every
nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable” to
for this gathering together of the
People of God begins when he calls Abraham and promises that he
will become the father of a great people.
Its immediate prepara
tion begins with Israel’s election as the People of God. By this
election, Israel is to be the sign of the future gathering of all
But the prophets accuse Israel of breaking the covenant
and behaving like a prostitute. They announce a new and eternal
covenant. “Christ instituted this New Covenant.”
Vision 2, 4, 1: PG 2, 899; cf. Aristides,
16, 6; St. Justin,
2, 7: PG 6, 456; Tertullian,
31, 3; 32, 1: PL 1, 508-509.
154 Cf. St. Epiphanius,
1, 1, 5: PG 41, 181C.
155 Clement of Alex.,
1, 6, 27: PG 8, 281.
9; 13; 16.