Rebecca Stark is the author of The Good Portion — God, the second title in The Good Portion series, a series written specifically to encourage women to immerse themselves in the depths of Christian doctrine.

The Good Portion — God explores what Scripture teaches about God in hopes that readers will see his perfection, worth, magnificence, and beauty as they study his triune nature, infinite attributes, and wondrous works. 

Rebecca also blogs at Out of the Ordinary.


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Theological Term of the Week

A term (from the Greek) used to express the intimate union of the three persons in the Trinity as they mutually indwell or interpenetrate each other. Also called circumincession or coinherence.
  • From the Bible:
    I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17: 20-21 ESV)
    So Jesus said to them,“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” (John 5:19 ESV)
    For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 2:10-11 ESV)
  • From Systematic Theology by Charles Hodge, pages 461-462:
    The third point decided concerning the relation of the persons of the Trinity, one to the other, relates to their union. As the essence of the Godhead is common to the several persons, they have a common intelligence, will, and power. There are not in God three intelligences, three wills, three efficiencies. The Three are one God, and therefore, have one mind and will. This intimate union was expressed in the Greek Church by the word [perichoresis] which the Latin words inexistentia, inhabitatio, and inter communio, were used to explain. These terms were intended to express the Scriptural facts that the Son is in the Father, and the Father in the Son ; that where the Father is, there the Son and Spirit are ; that what the one does the others do (the Father creates, the Son creates, the Spirit creates), or, as our Lord expresses it, ” What things soever” the Father ” doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” (John v. 19.) So also what the one knows, the others know. ” The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him ? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” (1 Cor. ii. 10, 11.) A common knowledge implies a common consciousness. In man the soul and body are distinct, yet, while united, they have a common life. We distinguish between acts of the intellect, and acts of the will, and yet in every act of the will there is an exercise of the intelligence ; as in every act of the affections there is a joint action of the intelligence and will. These are not illustrations of the relations of the persons of the Trinity, which are ineffable, but of the fact that in other and entirely different spheres there is this community of life in different subsistences, — different subsistences, at least so far as the body and soul are concerned.

    This fact — of the intimate union, communion, and inhabitation of the persons of the Trinity — is the reason why everywhere in Scripture, and instinctively by all Christians, God as God is addressed as a person, in perfect consistency with the Tripersonality of the Godhead. We can, and do’ pray to each of the Persons separately ; and we pray to God as God ; for the three persons are one God ; one not only in substance, but in knowledge, will, and power. To expect that we, who cannot understand anything, not even ourselves, should understand these mysteries of the Godhead, is to the last degree unreasonable. But as in every other sphere we must believe what we cannot understand ; so we may believe all that God has revealed in his Word concerning Himself, although we cannot understand the Almighty unto perfection

Learn more:
  1. Theopedia: Perichoresis
  2. What is perichoresis?

Related terms:

Filed under Trinity

The term perichoresis was suggested by David Kjos. Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion, and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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Reader Comments (4)

Rebecca -- I was taught this along time ago and did not write down from where but here it goes ... "perichoresis koinonia" "Peri" is Greek word for around, the root for the English word "perimeter"; "choreography"comes from the Greek word "choresis" - "to dance." The relationship of the Holy Trinity could be described as an eternal Holy dance of each Person around and within the Others. "koinonia" of course is "fellowship". These words give us a word picture of a Divine Dance in which the Holy Three step together in unending harmony. A loving, ongoing, never-ending dance. "Reciprocating Permeation!"
ps - This is not meant in a pentecostal way either!

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPam


As a link from your Theological Terms page, and, also, in the definition
above you use the term "circumcession." I think you will find that the
correct word is "circumincession." Note the added syllable.

Your servant

November 13, 2008 | Unregistered Commentered

All fixed! Thanks so much for bringing that to my attention. :)

November 13, 2008 | Registered Commenterrebecca


The etiology of the term and definition of perichoresis koinonia that you refer to is probably from Karen Mains' book "Open Heart Open Home" pages 11 & 12.


March 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGordon

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