I thought I’d post my thoughts on this passage since the comments on the previous post were getting lengthy.
Where was the Spirit before Jesus? Based on what I learned in my previous Bible study, the three parts of the trinity existed before creation. Where were Jesus and the Holy Spirit in Old Testament times? I’m not sure what the view is of Jesus, though I’ve heard it said that the pre-incarnate Jesus showed up at times as the “Angel of the Lord.” I mentioned this to my brother who is an Episcopal priest and he rolled his eyes, so I think there is a division of opinion on that matter. As to the Spirit, that was alive and well and at work. It was the Spirit that became the cloud and the pillar of fire that lead the Israelites through the desert.
Jesus offers the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit to those who believe in him. The Holy Spirit officially descended on the people at Pentacost — from that point on, all believers have it within them. The spirit within can be smothered by our own sins or egoism, but its always there. As to God within in the non-believer, I have no mind to argue it, but I’ve known enough “non-Christians” that have more God in them than professed Christians that I’m thinking ‘belief’ doesn’t mean ascribing to a particular creed formed centuries ago by church politicians.
I’ve made a lot of statements here, of course I don’t actually know any of these things. Many things I believe personally, while other statements merely reflect what I’ve been taught and I may not completely agree with them.