D'oh! One of my New Year's resolutions in 2012 was to finish reading the bible and I've still got 17 books and just under 300 pages to go. Hopefully I'll have this sucker done with by 2014.
You won't amount to much until you die. Because, see, a christian is a child of Christ, a kid might as well be a slave until he grows up to inherit his father's wealth, and you won't get any of that until death.
Before the congregation got to know god, they were slaves to other gods. And yet, now they're turning back to their old habits and Paul's worried he's done all this work in vain. He wants to stay with them until they die, see. He links it all to Abraham and his two sons, Isaac, the result of divine promise, and Ishmael, the result of unprotected sex with a slave girl. Christians are Isaac, being persecuted by Ishmael, the Jews. And as the scripture says, they need to cast out Hagar and Ishmael, because they're free.
Whatever you do, don't get circumcised. Jesus, who was circumcised, no longer likes it and won't allow you into heaven on the basis of presence or absence of a bit of penile skin. What will get you in? faith which worketh by love (v. 6). This entire chapter is a treasure trove of famous biblical sayings. Just 3 verses later we get A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump (v. 9) But here it's about bad people putting false ideas into believers' heads.
Speaking of agitators, Paul wants them to self-castrate, just like he wants believers to love one another without giving into the sins of the flesh, which Freud might call your id and which is constantly battling with the holy spirit, or superego. These two forces are at constant war with each other, and both keep you from doing what you want.
Among the more fun sins of the flesh: fornication, drunkenness and orgies. You're supposed to nail them to the cross with Jesus. On the other side, you've got the fruit of the
Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance (v. 22-23)
If someone succumbs to temptation, help him without succumbing yourself. Don't be an egoist. Work hard. Be faithful. Don't sin. Take joy in doing good turns. Don't believe people who try to convince you to get circumcised.