To develop an eschatology that centers around the message, presence, and coming of the kingdom of God through the Spirit in the life of Jesus Christ that concludes in the reconciliation of creation to God, Pannenberg must connect the kingdom of God to the fulfillment of history. He does so by extending the theme of lordship. The kingdom is understood as the fulfillment of human society with God the Creator as reigning Lord. God’s world government is the form of his lordship over creation by which he directs the course of the world events to the goals ordained for his creatures. God’s lordship remains hidden for those who have yet to receive the special revelation of God, but in the history of Israel and the teaching of Jesus, the Kingdom of God as the definitive actualization of justice and peace is understood to be present and coming.
If the Kingdom is to be the fulfillment of human society it must be grounded in the God who is Creator, having created and elected humanity to be in fellowship with himself. To ground the just order of society in anything other than God necessarily creates dissonance because the rule of some over others is never free from impartiality and injustice. While Pannenberg admits that all human attempts at a just and peaceful reality can be more or less good, there cannot be a fulfillment of human society so long as the reference point is anything other than God. For this reason, Jewish expectations linked the hope of a fulfilled human fellowship with the coming of a new heaven and a new earth in the overturning of natural conditions. The hope of God’s coming kingdom is then associated with the expectation of a cosmic renewal and not a human renewal within the current arrangement of human political affairs.
The hope of the end-time Kingdom of God is more than the simple resurrection of the dead, but is in fact the reconciliation of each individual and society. Here “the law of God that is perfected by love finally reconciles individuals with one another and therefore society in the kingdom of God” (III, 585). God’s fulfillment then includes all humanity as it comes into the fellowship with God that is its destiny.