The words "full of," "filled" and "fullness" are used to designate perfection, abundance. In the Gospel of Luke, we hear of those who were filled with the Holy Spirit, among others: Elizabeth (1:41), Zechariah (1:67) and Jesus (4:1).
The Greek word pleroma, which Paul uses often, portrays a variety of meanings. Among these is that which fills a space as in Psalm 24:1 "The Lord's is the earth and its fullness."
It also means something that completes, as in Matthew 9:16 where the patch on the garment covers the hole.
Or the totality of something: "But if their transgressions have meant riches for the Gentile world, how much more their full number!" (Romans 11:12).
Other meanings are abundant: "I am certain that when I come to visit you, I shall come with Christ's full blessing" (Romans 15:29), as well as accomplishment: "Love never does any wrong to the neighbour, hence love is the fulfillment of the Law" (Romans 13:10).
Fullness is encompassed in Christ: "It pleased God to make absolute fullness reside in him" (Colossians 1:19). This fullness could mean that the universe is filled with the presence of God like wisdom "fills the universe and keeps all things united" (Wisdom 1:7).
But it could also carry the meaning of another image taken from wisdom literature, of a simple stream filled to overflowing and covering the area around it, eventually becoming a river and an ocean (Wisdom 24:25-31).
Wisdom dwelt in Israel and more specifically in Christ in whom all riches are hidden (Colossians 2:3).
This superabundance in Christ is vividly portrayed in all of Paul's writings especially in the most lyrical passages such as the hymn in Philippians (2:9ff).
The fullness which rests in Jesus resounds in Paul's letter to the Ephesians with the overflowing richness of God's grace which is poured out upon humanity through the beloved Son: "God has given us the wisdom to fully understand the mystery, the plan he was pleased to decree in Christ, to be carried out in the fullness of time: namely, to bring all things in the heavens and on the earth into one under Christ's headship" (Ephesians 1:9-10).
Christ, filled with the power of divinity (Colossians 1:19), enables us to share this fullness of God: "experience this love which surpasses all knowledge, so that you may attain to the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:19).
The abundant holiness that resides in Christ overflows in the Church, which is the body of Christ. Although needing to continue to grow in holiness, the Church is already the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).
John puts it simply: The Son, "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14) pours out the abundant goodness of God on all humanity: "from the fullness of Christ, we have all received abundantly" (John 1:16).
When "of time" is added to fullness, it conveys an additional meaning. The fullness of time had come for Elizabeth and Mary when they gave birth.
For the earth, the fullness of Messianic and eschatological time was accomplished when Jesus took on humanity and became one of us: "This is the time of fulfillment. The reign of God is at hand!" (Mark 1:15).
This fullness is not that of a full container or maturity or human perfection. Rather, it is the arrival of the time determined by God when Jesus fulfills and completes the covenant and the prophets.