Question: "What is perichoresis?"

Answer: The word perichoresis comes from two Greek words, peri, which means “around,” and chorein, which means “to give way” or “to make room.” It could be translated “rotation” or “a going around.” Perichoresis is not found in the Greek New Testament but is a theological term used in three different contexts. In the first, perichoresis refers to the two natures of Christ in perfect union within the same Person. In the second context, perichoresis refers to the omnipresence of God as He “intersects” with all creation (see Acts 17:28). In the third context, it refers to the mutual intersecting or “interpenetration” of the three Persons of the Godhead and may help clarify the concept of the Trinity. It is a term that expresses intimacy and reciprocity among the Persons of the Godhead. A synonym for perichoresis is circumincession.

Perichoresis is seen in Jesus’ prayer in John 17:1, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” We compare this with John 16:14, in which Jesus says that the Holy Spirit “will glorify me.” So, the Holy Spirit glorifies the Son, the Son glorifies the Father, and the Father glorifies the Son. The loving relationships within the Trinity result in the Persons of the Godhead giving glory to one another.

Perichoresis is the fellowship of three co-equal Persons perfectly embraced in love and harmony and expressing an intimacy that no one can humanly comprehend. The Father sends the Son (John 3:16), and the Spirit proceeds from the Father and was sent by the Son (John 15:26)—another example of perichoresis, with the result that God’s people are blessed.

There is nothing that separates the Persons of the Trinity or interrupts the mysterious interchange of perichoresis. It can be imagined as a Venn diagram showing three circles intersecting in the center with each circle intersecting the others perfectly and multi-dimensionally, as they rotate about a common center of divine love.