Luke 20:17 What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected,

KJV Verse: 

Luke 20:17 What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner?

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

What in fact is the one that has been written, this one: A stone, this one  they rejected, the ones building the house . This is changed: into the capstone.

Hidden Meaning: 

The parallel verses in Matthew and Mark all have different words for the introduction to this quote, but the quote is identical, taken from the Septuagint specifically Psa 118:22. As the son of a bricklayer and house builder (mistranslated into English as a "carpenter"), Christ would have understood the meaning of this stanza. This line is prophetic, describing Christ's life as one that would have an odd angle on things, so much so that he made plays on words like this one.

The word translated as "what" means primarily "anything" or "anyone," but Jesus often uses it to start a question, so it means "who," "what," or even "why". 

The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics. -

The word translated as "this" means "from here" or "this/that thing." This word appears after "what is written" not before.

The Greek word translated as "then" either emphasizes the truth of something ("certainly", "really") or it simply continues an existing narrative. This is the second word in the phrase.

"That is written" is the Greek verb that means "to mark", "to express by written characters", "to write a letter", "to write down [a law]", and so on.  The tense is the past perfect, "has been written" and the form is an adjective used as a noun, "that which has been written".

"Stone" is from the noun which means "a stone," but there is no article introducing it, so not "the stone." There is no article before it so "a stone".

The word translated as "that" is a demonstrative pronoun (this, that), while it often acts as a pronoun, especially a connective pronoun introducing a dependent clause, the form here clearly modifies the stone so "this stone."

The word translated as "the builders" is from a verb meaning specifically to build a house but it is used generally to mean "build" or "establish." It is in a noun form so, "the ones building." this is the subject of the sentence.

"Rejected" is from a word that means specifically "reject on scrutiny", "reject as unfit or unworthy," and "reject for want of qualifications." Referring to a stone used to build a wall, we would say "reject as unfitting."

"The same" is translated from a Greek word that means "this", "that", "the nearer." It is used as a noun that acts as the subject of the sentence.

The word translated as "is become" means "become," that is, to enter or change into a new state. In Greek, especially as used by Christ, it is the opposite of "being," which is existence in the current state. It is in the passive form, but we usually use the word "become" like a passive verb. This Greek verb, however, works differently, as we will see later in the verse.

There is a preposition here in the Greek that means "into." With the previous verse, the sense is as we use the phrase "changes into."

"Head" is from a noun that means "head of a man or beast", "an extremity", "the top", "the capital (top) of a pillar", "the coping of a wall", "the source of a rivalry," and, metaphorically the "crowning" or "completion" of a thing.

"Corner" is from the Greek noun that means "corner", "angle", "a quarter of a compass," and "a leader of people." In Greek, another meaning for "corner" is "a leader of a people." We don't use the word "corner" similarly, but the meaning is easier to understand if you think of the corners as supporting a structure, like a pillar does. We do say a "pillar of the community" to describe a leader. In Greek, they would say "the corner of a community" in the same sense.

Vocabulary: 

Τί ( irreg sg neut nom ) "What" is tis which can mean "someone", "any one", "everyone", "they [indefinite]", "many a one", "whoever", "anyone", "anything", "some sort", "some sort of", "each", "any", "the individual", "such," and so on. In a question, it can mean "who", "why," or "what."

οὖν (adv) "Then" is oun, which means "certainly", "in fact", "really", "in fact," "so" and "then" (continuing a narrative), and "then" and "therefore."

ἐστὶν (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Is" is eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," of circumstance and events "to happen",  and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.") --

τὸ γεγραμμένον ( part sg perf mp neut nom ) "That is written" is grapho which means "to mark", "to express by written characters", "to write a letter", "to write down [a law]", "to proscribe", "to ordain", "to write for oneself", "to enroll oneself", "to draw signs", "to describe a figure" "to brand," and "to indict." -- 

τοῦτο ( adj sg neut nom ) "This" is touto, which means "from here", "from there", "this [thing]," or "that [thing]." --

Λίθον (noun sg masc acc) "The stone" is from lithos, which means "a stone", "stone as a substance," and various specific types of stones, such as touchstones, and altar stones.

ὃν (pron sg masc acc) "This" is from hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

ἀπεδοκίμασαν (verb 3rd pl aor ind act) "Rejected" is from apodokimazô, which means specifically "reject on scrutiny", "reject as unfit or unworthy," and "reject for want of qualifications."

οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες (part pl pres act masc nom) "The builders" is from oikodomeo,which means to "build a house," generally, "build", "fashion," "found upon," and, metaphorically, "build up," and "edify."

οὗτος (adj sg masc nom) "The same" is from houtos, which means "this", "that", "the nearer." As an adverb, it means "in this way", "therefore", "so much", "to such an extent," and "that is why."

ἐγενήθη (verb 3rd sg aor ind pass) "Is become" is from ginomai, which means "to become", "to come into being", "to be produced," and "to be." It means changing into a new state of being. It is the complementary opposite of the verb "to be" (eimi)which indicates existence in the same state.

εἰς Untranslated is eis, which means "into (of place)," "up to (of time)", "until (of time)", "as much as (of measure or limit)", "as far as (of measure or limit)", "towards (to express relation)", "in regard to (to express relation)", "of an end or limit," and "for (of purpose or object)." -- The word translated as "unto" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, and "up to" limits in time and measure.

κεφαλὴν (noun sg fem acc) "Head" is from kephalê, which means "head of a man or beast", "an extremity", "the top", "the capital (top) of a pillar", "the coping of a wall", "the source of a rivalry," and, metaphorically the "crowning" or "completion" of a thing.

γωνίας: (noun sg fem gen) "Of the corner" is from gônia, which means "corner", "angle", "a quarter of a compass," and "a leader of people."

Related Verses: 

Dec 9 2018