JD WALTERS SAID:
“The asymmetry you propose is not self-evident.”
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 6:23).
“In a memorable formulation that concludes the pericope, Paul sets off the antithesis between the realms of sin and grace. He uses the slang term opsonion, which…was popularized by military usage to refer to wages or rations given as remuneration for services performed.”
“The most striking feature of this sentence, however, is the contrast between opsonion and the charisma tou theou (‘free gift of God’). Whereas the remuneration is paid in return for services rendered, the charisma is a sheer gift provided to those who have performed no service at all, to those in fact who have made themselves God’s enemies.”
“They [early Christians] perceived the death and resurrection of Christ as granting shamefully undeserving people the gift of salvation as well as specific gifts of God’s mercy and calling into his gratifying service. In Paul’s view, these gifts were granted without regard to whether or not one has fulfilled the requirements of the law. In Rom 4:4, this was connected to the matter of wages in a manner that provides the premise for 6:23: ‘to one who works, his sages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due.’ In contrast to earning death as a result of enslavement to sin, therefore, Paul counterposes the ‘free gift of God,’ which is ‘life eternal.’ In his view there is nothing whatsoever that anyone can do to deserve such a gift: life eternal is the very opposite of the death the children of Adam have earned. This antithesis strikes at the heart of much of the religious motivation in Paul’s time,” R. Jewett, Romans: A Commentary (Fortress 2007), 425-26.