Romans 6:23 — For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
This tends to be rendered as a verse that describes this idea that all people are hidden in ‘sin’, and since all people are ruled by sin then all people die. That all people are headed to a destructive place called hell.
(Rather than dealing with a better rendering for sin as well as the mythology and rhetoric behind the ancient idea of hell, I would like to spend some time picking apart and re-contextualzing the verse.)
If you notice in this verse context, Paul is consistently making a contrast. He goes from verse-to-verse demonstrating either the destructive nature of sin or the complete and full gift of salvation. (In this context, salvation also means healing or restoration.) living as we are meant to be. living out of the best ‘us’. and so the less we spend our energy on not being ourselves the better we live out our salvation.
the word for wages is opsōnion — it is related to the wages of a soldier who deserved his pay. it was also used to describe a human to human transaction; for example, in the ancient times sometimes a debt was paid by one working for another to settle their debt. “The law was very strict in requiring daily payment of wages.” More on Wages here.
Thanatos is the Greek word for death. It tends to be defined in the bible as physical death, but i think its also important to remember that Thanatos was also a minor part of Greek Mythology. It is death personified. death in a person.
Maybe in this context, it might be better rendered as ‘the ability for a person to bring destruction everywhere they go when they are not living out the best them. The word also is connected to the idea of pestilence. which brings death. basically, the idea here is that sin and our intentional alignment with it can only bring daily destruction.
the word for eternal is better rendered as a ‘life of the ages’, or ‘life as you were intended to live out’.
So it seems Pauls is creating a contrast between two-types of people. people who align themselves with sin purposefully, will only experience and bring destruction wherever they go. those who choose to live out of the best them they were meant to be, bring healing and hope. so, then in this light it is less about how all of humanity has lost the plot and more about how all of us can choose to be people who either leave destruction or leave hope in the wake of our choices. which one are you striving to be?
So then the term connotes itself to the idea of a daily experience of sin. Sin defined as people not living out the best them.