Luke 20:18: United or scattered by the cornerstone

“…everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”   (ESV)

I’ve heard this exegeted a dozen ways, none of them convincing.  What I haven’t heard are the two verbs contrasted.   “Broken” and “crush” are two different words in the Greek.

The first, sunlasthesetai = future passive of suntthlao  = sun (together) + thlao (crush).   The “sun” ((English’ syn) suggests the result of the force is a pile, or mass of material.

The second, likmesei = from llikmao = from liknon (a winnowing fan) – so the verb means grind to powder, which is something that can be winnowed, or scattered in the wind.  The result of this force is the opposite of a pile or mass of material.

So the two verbs hold contrasting images:  “together”, versus “scattered”.

So I think it means something like “everyone who gets on the right side of Me will be pounded together, but everyone who gets on the wrong side of Me will be scattered apart.”

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