Circumincession

Circumincession is a shorthand way of saying that the Father is in the Son, the Son is in the Father, the Holy Spirit is in the Son and in the Father, and the Son and Father are in the Holy Spirit. Is it Biblical? Let's see:


The Father is in the Son
The Son is in the Father
The Holy Spirit is in the Son
The Holy Spirit is in the Father
The Father is in the Holy Spirit
The Son is in the Holy Spirit

Holy, Holy, HolyAn old word picture of circumincession is the image of three lamps: three wicks suspended in one reservoir of oil...burning with three flames but shining with one indivisible, interpenetrating light. "Let me resort here to examples from what we perceive and from what is familiar. In a house the light from all the lamps is completely interpenetrating, yet each is clearly distinct.  There is distinction in unity and there is unity in distinction. When there are many lamps in a house there is nevertheless a single undifferentiated light and from all of them comes the one undivided brightness.  I do not think that anyone would mark off the light of one lamp from another in the atmosphere which contains them all, nor could one light be seen separately from the others since all of them are completely mingled while being at the same time quite distinctive." (Pseudo-Dionysius, The Divine Names, Chapter 1, 641B).  Here are the Bible facts:

The Father is in the Son:

"If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.'" (John 10:37-38).

"Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.  Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves." (John 14:10-11).

"...that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me." (John 17:21).



Circumincession


The Son is in the Father:

"At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you." (John 14:20).

"No one has seen God at any time.  The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." (John 1:18).

The Holy Spirit is in the Son:

"Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness..." (Luke 4:1).

"Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles." (Isaiah 42:1).

"There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.  The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD." (Isaiah 11:1-2).

"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified." (Isaiah 61:1-3, Luke 4:18-19).

"For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure." (John 3:34).

"The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ - He is Lord of all - that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. " (Acts 10:36-38).

Some readers understand the above passages as referring to the anointing of Jesus' humanity with the Holy Spirit, though none is so limited by the text. They understand this anointing as inviting the Holy Spirit into a temple no longer polluted, but cleansed and renovated by the incarnation. To show the mutual indwelling of Son and Holy Spirit, these readers may prefer a reference from Old Covenant times.  Such is, for instance, 1 Peter 1:10-11, where the Holy Spirit is called "the Spirit of Christ": "Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow."  The Spirit which inspired the prophets is called "the Spirit of Christ" both by virtue of proceeding through Him and also by virtue of their mutual indwelling: "For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Revelation 19:10).

The Holy Spirit is in the Father:

"But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.  For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.  For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God." (1 Corinthians 2:10-11).

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The Father is in the Holy Spirit:

"...in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:21-22).
"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Ephesians 4:4-6).

How is God the Father "in you all"? By the indwelling Spirit.

The Son is in the Holy Spirit:

Jesus promised to abide with those who loved Him: "Jesus answered and said to him, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.'" (John 14:23).  Specifically, He promised His followers that the Holy Spirit would come to dwell in them: "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever - the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you." (John 14:16-18).  It is by the infilling of the Holy Spirit that Jesus dwells in our hearts: "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith..." (Ephesians 3:14-17).  Only if Jesus were in the Holy Spirit could this be one of the means by which Jesus dwells with His sheep.



Thrice Holy Radio!


Holy, Holy, HolyThe new religious movements indignantly demand, how can these things be?  Perceiving circumincession after the physical analogy of a marble rattling around in a bin, they demand to know, how can the marble be in the bin, and the bin simultaneously be in the marble? Patently, this is the wrong analogy to apply to this mutual indwelling!  If they cannot understand, they should at least cease to scoff, because Jesus Himself plainly said: "...the Father is in Me, and I in Him." (John 10:38).

Amazing consequences follow from this Bible fact. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us when we believe: "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ in in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." (Romans 8:9-11). The very love which binds Son and Father dwells in us: "And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them." (John 17:26). When we have the Holy Spirit, we have Christ who is in the Holy Spirit: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20). When we have the Son, we have the Father also, who is in Him: "He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son." (2 John 1:9). As He said, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him." (John 14:23).

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Holy, Holy, Holy