One of the best joys a person can experience in this world is an animal. God created all the different kinds of animals for his glory and for mankind’s enjoyment. Many people are touched by their pets and even grieve at their loss like they would a person. So it not wrong to ask a very important question: Do animals go to Heaven? Related to this is “will my pet be in Heaven?”
It is common today to answer no to both of these questions. Many assume that since heaven is a spiritual world then there will be nothing earthly about the afterlife. It is also commonly thought that animals do not have souls. However, as I have written about before, heaven is not a spiritual world, but is earth restored back to its original pristine condition. When Jesus returns he will restore the world back to its Eden-like condition.
If heaven is actually the earth liberated from sin and death, then a good question to ask is “will there be animals on the restored world?” As we look at Scripture carefully we will realize that there is indeed a future for animals.
Animals in Heaven
The first thing to know is that animals lived in the Garden of Eden before sin entered into the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience. This in itself suggests that animals are going to be a part of the restored world. One of the best ways to understand the new heavens and new earth is to think about the world before sin (unless there is something in Scripture that specifically says something to the contrary).
Second, Romans 8:19-23 tells us that all of creation cries out to God because of sin, and hopes for the day when Christians are resurrected. On the day that Christians receive their resurrected bodies, after Christ’s second coming, creation will be liberated from suffering and death. Animals are a part of our sinful world because mankind’s rebellion against God. Animals were supposed to live in a perfect world with God and humanity. Since animals were put under man’s care they were cursed along with us. Randy Alcorn notes another passage that goes right along with Romans 8:
“In 2 Peter 3:5-7, we see a direct parallel between God’s past judgment of the earth with water and his future judgment with fire. Mankind was judged in the Flood, and on his coattails most animals perished. Eight human beings were rescued from the Flood to inhabit the new post-Flood Earth, but God didn’t limit his rescue to people. He rescued representatives of every animal species to also occupy this new Earth. This is a powerful picture of what Romans 8 states – mankind and animals and all creation are linked together not only in curse and judgment but also in blessing and deliverance. Together they will experience life on a New Earth.”
Third, Scripture indicates that animals do in fact have souls. This flies directly in the face of what most people believe. The Bible says that God breathed a spirit into Adam’s body and he became a “living being” or “soul” (Genesis 2:7). The Hebrew word used for “soul” and “living being” is nephesh. This word is also used for animals! Genesis (1:30; 2:7; 6:17; and 7:15, 22) tells us that animals have “the breath of life” or “soul” (nephesh). Interestingly, whenever the Bible was translated into Greek the word used for nephesh was psyche (the Greek word for soul). (As a side note, I want to clarify that this does not mean that an animal’s soul is equal to man’s soul. Man is created in God’s image. Scripture does not tell us if an animal’s soul continues to exist after death [my assumption is that it does not, but I could be wrong]. Whether it does or not, it is no trouble for God to resurrect them on the Restored World – more on that below).
There are other important things to note about Scripture’s teaching about animals:
1) The Bible is clear that God cares deeply for animals. For example, when God sends Jonah to the city of Nineveh, God expresses his concern for all the cattle in the city (Jonah 4:11). He also makes sure to include animals in the Sabbath when giving Moses the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:9-10).
2) God made humans the stewards of animals and holds us accountable for them. “The godly are concerned for the welfare of their animals” (Proverbs 12:10). Psalm 50:10-11 tells us that the animals belong to God. Be warned! If you mistreat an animal (any animal) God will hold you accountable for them since they belong to him!
3) 2 Samuel 12:1-6 tells us some very interesting information about pets in Israel:
“1 The LORD sent Nathan [the prophet] to [King] David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, 3 but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. 4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.” 5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
This story of the ewe lamb was actually about King David’s adultery with Bathsheba. But it is interesting to note a couple of things about it. First, the prophet Nathan chose to use a story about a pet lamb. This shows us that it would have been common for some people to have pets in Ancient Israel. If not, then David would not have understood Nathan’s story and would not have been so emotional about the incident. Second, this counters a common argument among some that it was not until the modern world that people had pets. People have had pets for thousands of years, and even King David, the man after God’s own heart, was filled with anger about someone’s mistreatment of one.
The fact is that many of the greatest theologians and ministers over the past two thousand years believed that animals would populate heaven. It wasn’t until the Enlightenment of the 1700s that “educated” people began to reject that animals had souls.
Will our pets be in heaven?
First thing to note is that Christ died and resurrected for humanity. He did not die directly for animals. However, he did die indirectly for animals since creation will be liberated at the same time Christians receive their resurrected bodies at Christ’s second coming (Romans 8:21-23). One scholar said it well: “As goes mankind, so go the animals.” This passage in Romans speaks about the resurrection of animals!
“If God created a new race of humans on the New Earth – rather than raising the people who had lived on the old Earth – would it fulfill the promise in Romans 8 of redemption, deliverance, and resurrection? No. Why? To have meaning, the people who are redeemed and resurrected into the new world must be the same people who suffered in the old world. Otherwise, their longing for redemption would go unmet. As mankind goes, so go the animals. If we take to its logical conclusions the parallel Paul makes between humans’ and animals’ groaning, then at least some of those animals who suffered on the old Earth must be made whole on the New Earth.”
Quite simply, if the animal kingdom is going to be liberated from sin and death then it is logical to conclude that at least some of the animals that have lived in our current fallen world must be resurrected; otherwise they are not liberated from sin. It makes no sense that the animals in heaven would be brand new creations. How can brand new animals be liberated from something that they never experienced? “By resurrecting his original creation, God will show the totality of his victory over sin and death.”
We must also remember that God is the giver of good gifts, not one who takes them away (Matthew 7:9-11). It is perfectly within God’s grace to give the gift of a pet that a person enjoyed while on this earth. God created animals for his and our enjoyment.
What were you beliefs about animals in heaven before this article? Have they changed or stayed the same? Leave a comment below about your thoughts.
 Hank Hanegraaff. After Life. (Brentwood; Worthy Publishing, 2013). 45.
 Randy Alcorn. Heaven. (Carol Stream: Tyndale, 2004). 389.
 Alcorn, 388; Hanegraaff, 45.
 Alcorn, 388.
 Ibid., 398.
 Ibid., 397-398.
 Ibid., 399.
 Alcorn, 400; Hanegraaff, 45.