From the very beginning, Martin Luther King established himself within his audiences’ group so he is not seen as an “outsider” but as someone they can trust. In the heading, he addresses his audience as “My Dear Fellow Clergymen:” King uses this similarity between him and his audience throughout the letter, and he contrasts this camaraderie with his disdain for and disappointment toward his fellows and their inaction. For example, in the third paragraph, he compares himself to the apostle Paul and Christian prophets, simultaneously implying that he is not only as holy as these people, but that he is as knowledgeable about the gospel and its history as his fellow clergymen.
In the last sentence of paragraph twelve, King quotes St. Augustine, further exemplifying his knowledge of the church, while also mentioning a figure who valued freedom and the sanctity of the church.
In the next paragraph he references St. Aquinas as well.
Later he justifies civil disobedience with a reference to a biblical story, where the people being punished for such were protected from death by God, in paragraph seventeen. Also in that paragraph, he used pathos as well as ethos: “It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire.” The adjectives he uses emphasize this sacrifice and beg the question towards the clergymen whether they would be willing to do the same.
In paragraph ten, he writes: “My friends, I must say to you” This is as if he is their long-time friend who must admit something, though it is difficult, because he is their friend, and friends deserve honesty. He uses this honesty again in the second sentence of paragraph eleven, by stating the word “frankly”, and once more in the beginning of paragraph nineteen, by writing: “I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian …