It is believed by many that early Christians were persecuted and put in the arena as a spectacle for the Ancient Romans. It is true that early Christians were persecuted in Rome at times, Christianity was viewed with much suspicion, but stories of the martyrs were a myth. No sources from the times they were “martyred” actually record Christians specifically being sent to the Colosseum, those records came after from early Christians after they got political power after Constantine. The Christians wanted to use it as propaganda against the pagans. Christians liked the idea of Martyrdom because they would go directly to heaven, others would have to wait until judgement day. One record actually records a group of Christians asking a Roman official to be martyred, but he refused. Constructing such stories of martyrs would further their cause.
“The idea of the persecuted church is almost entirely the invention of the 4th century and later,” she writes. This was, significantly, a period during which the church had become “politically secure,” thanks to Constantine. Yet, instead of providing a truthful account of Christianity’s early years, the scholars and clerics of the fourth century cranked out tales of horrific, systemic violence. These stories were subtly (and not so subtly) used as propaganda against heretical ideas or sects. They also made appealingly gruesome entertainment for believers who were, personally, fairly safe; Moss likens this to contemporary suburbanites reveling in a horror film.” (The Myth of Persecution, Candida Moss)