Commenting on Romans 6:23 (“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”), John Chrysostom notes in his twelfth homily on Romans the gap in the parallelism between the two clauses. Life is not deserved as death is deserved. Death is, indeed, deserved, but life is a free gift, received without labor from God’s gracious bounty, unmerited largesse rather than what is due:
After speaking of the wages of sin, in the case of the blessings, he has not kept to the same order (τάξιν, rank or relation): for he does not say, the wages of good deeds,but the gift of God;to show, that it was not of themselves that they were freed, nor was it a due they received, neither yet a return, nor a recompense of labors, but by grace all these things came about. And so there was a superiority for this cause also, in that He did not free them only, or change their condition for a better, but that He did it without any labor or trouble upon their part: and that He not only freed them, but also gave them much more than before, and that through His Son.