for the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. [romans 6:23] 


there are two sides of this verse that stand in stark opposition to each other: death versus life.


examine the structure of the verse:

form of payment → entity giving payment → outcome of payment

feel like you’re in summer school yet? let’s break it down…


for the wages of sin is death

if you do a quick word study search on, you can find the historical context of wages. from a 30,000 foot view, the word “opsonion” was later interpreted as “fitting compensation,” or wages.

the fitting compensation for a life that is enslaved to sin is death.

payment: wages

giver of payment: sin

outcome: death. not just physical death, but a death that hurts much more- separation from God forever.


but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

this second half could not be any more different from the first:

payment: gift

giver of gift: holy, perfect, awesome God

outcome: eternal life. forever communion with God, the giver of all good things.


our sin deserves death. we rightfully deserve separation from God because of the works of our flesh (idolatry, drunkenness, enmity, jealousy… to name a few).

the great news is that Jesus paid that penalty for us by sacrificing his life so that we can receive God’s gift of eternal life and fellowship with him. we can again walk with God, and not hide from him in our sinful shame.

are you trying to pay for God’s gift today? Jesus’ burden is light – your salvation is a free gift from God. see ephesians 2:8-9:

for by grace you have been saved through faith. and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

you have been joyfully saved from the compensation of sin (death). this eternal new life is not something for which you pay or achieve – it is already given. now go live out of that gift, not for that gift. hallelujah!


~ jm