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Do Animals go to Heaven?

"Do animals go to heaven? I hear a lot about people going to heaven, but what happens to animals when they die? What does the bible tell us about the spiritual afterlife of animals?", (Question from Patricia Sutter).

Animal life vastly outnumbers human life on this planet. This often leads us to wonder whether or not animals go to heaven. If animals don't go to heaven then where do they go? In other words, do animals have any kind of an afterlife?

The bible says very little about the spiritual nature of animals, much less where they go when they die. There are a few scriptures from which we can glean information, but none that explicity tell us about the spiritual afterlife of animals.

The fact that the bible doesn't directly tell us if animals go to heaven doesn't mean that it's a bad question, or that we shouldn't ask it. However, we probably shouldn't overly concern ourselves with the spiritual afterlife of animals. It is enough to know that God loves animals, and they do have value in his eyes, "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel" (Proverbs 12.10 KJV bible). We have to leave certain questions about the spiritual nature of animals in God's hands, trusting in his righteousness.

Can animals go to heaven?

To understand whether or not animals go to heaven, we need to consider whether or not they can go to heaven. We know that heaven is a spiritual place, and not a building floating around in the sky. Therefore, to be able to go to heaven, an animal would need some kind of spiritual soul that continues on after death.

Solomon helps us to understand whether or not animals have souls in Ecclesiastes 3.18-22. He starts by speaking of the nature of flesh man, and how that he is like the animals of the earth, "I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts" (Ecclesiastes 3.18 KJV bible).

Solomon tells us that in the end, flesh man is nothing more than an animal. Some of us might have lofty notions of ourselves, but we are frail creature of flesh and blood, often living according to our own self-interests and desires. The end of both flesh man and animal is the same, and all are equal in death, "All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again" (Ecclesiastes 3.20 KJV bible). Flesh man has no place above the beasts of the earth, because all are born, strive, and inevitably return to the dust.

However, Solomon tempers his statements by also recognizing that there is a deeper spiritual nature to both man and beast. There is a soul that continues on apart from the flesh, "Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?" (Ecclesiastes 3.21 KJV bible). Solomon inquires into the mystery of the afterlife for both man and beast. He asks whether the spirit of man ascends upward, and the spirit of the beast descends downwards. In this question, he is recognizing a spiritual component or vestige to both man and beast. Solomon doesn't tell us where animals go when they die, but does indicate that animals have unique personal spirits that continue on after the flesh.

Romans 8.18-23 tells us about the spiritual nature of animals.

One passage that can help to fill in some of these gaps about animal life is Romans 8.18-23, "For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Romans 8.19-22 ASV bible).

There are many differing interpretations of Romans 8.18-23, and a lot that can be said about it. First we need to consider what Paul means here by the term "creation" (Greek: krisis). What is clear is that in referring to the creation or created thing, Paul is not talking about the children of God. He says that the creation looks forward to being liberated by them. Neither can Paul be referring to nonbelievers, as they will more or less receive wrath at the revelation of the sons of God, "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn..." (Matthew 24.30 KJV bible). Clearly the passage is not referring to mankind, but some other part or parts of the natural world.

While we don't know exactly what part of the natural world is meant by creation, Paul is most likely referring to plant and animal life. Paul says that the creation groans to be set free from the bondage of corruption. The nonliving parts of the world such as rocks, atmosphere and soil aren't subject to death and corruption, at least not in the normal sense. They change and deteriorate over time, but don't experience the travails of living creatures such as predation, stress, disease, and senescence. So in Romans 8, Paul is most likely referring to the collective desire of living creatures to be set free from the state of bondage and corruption to which God has subjected them.

So Romans 8 connects back with Ecclesiastes, and Solomon's description of the futility of the flesh. Similar to Ecclesiastes, Paul speaks of the vanity to which the creation has been subjected to, namely the transient nature of the flesh, "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand forever" (Isaiah 40.8 KJV bible). Therefore, Romans 8.18-23 tells us that on some level living creatures desire to be set free from their fleshly state of futility and corruption.

Now if we assume that animals and living creatures only exist in the flesh, then how is it possible that they desire the revelation of the sons of God? More specifically, why would they desire the Day of the Lord, when Christ will reign with the children of God?, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (1st Peter 3.10 KJV bible).

The vanity and futility of the flesh will be brought to an end at the revelation of Christ and his Kingdom. If animals don't continue on at a spiritual level, then why would they long for their own destruction at the second advent? Clearly they long to exist at the spiritual level, and this will happen when they are freed from the bondage of corruption within the flesh.

So it is through the destruction of the world on the Day of the Lord, that the things of the world will be ultimately reconciled back to the one who created them, "And he [Christ] is before all things, and by him all things consist...And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven" (Colossians 1.17,20 KJV bible). This is why the creation collectively desires the revelation of the sons of God. Christ's return, and the tearing down of the current order, will lead to the things of the world being reconciled back to their creator.

All things considered we know very little about the spiritual nature and afterlife of animals. There is no biblical refererence to anything other than people dying and going to heaven. However, the bible does indicate that animals do have a spiritual existence beyond the flesh. It also tells us that they collectively long for the time when they will be reconciled back to their creator.


Clifford      18 Mar 2011, 05:47

 Ever wonder what it would be like to ride a grizzly bear, or play wrestle with a mountain lion? Well this too will become a reality in God's Heaven. The animals will be tame, none will prey upon others, and a little child will lead them. Isaiah 11:6-9, Isaiah 65:25

Our bodies will be absolutely perfect. In fact they will fashioned after the body of the Creator Himself. Jesus Christ! Philippians 3:21

In Heaven we will also be singing and playing Heavenly music. Isaiah 35:10, Isaiah 51:11, Psalms 87:7, Revelation 14:2-3.

We will continue to worshiping God every 7th day Sabbath Isaiah 66:22-23.

We will be eternally enjoying the never fading trees and flowers Ezekiel 47:12, Isaiah 35:1-2

We will study the animals of Heaven Isaiah 11:6-9, Isaiah 65:25

We will actually be able to listen to God Almighty SING! Zephaniah 3:17 --- WOW......!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Never grow old or weary, eternal youth and vigor Genesis 3:24, Revelation 22:2

We will visit loved ones, prophets, and people of the Bible. Matthew 8:11, Revelation 7:9-17

Josh McGinnis      18 Mar 2011, 16:44

Awesome article! 

But I hope one day to see some of my favorite animals in Heaven! Especially my pets!

Also, in Revelation 5:13, it mentions something about animals in heaven also:
"Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:
"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"

Also, check out this website:

Doug Buckley      19 Mar 2011, 14:58

Thanks Josh, looking at that site I realize how important the issue of animals in heaven is to alot of people. Revelation 5.13 relates to Romans 8 in that the creation wants righteousness in the world.

Josh McGinnis      20 Mar 2011, 00:08

You're welcome! 

I hope to see any of my favorite animals, especially my deceased pets, in Heaven! 

Also, this verse might relate to Romans 8 also:

Isaiah 11:6-9
 6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.

 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Doug Buckley      20 Mar 2011, 12:08

Yeah, Isaiah 11.6-9 definitely describes how there will be peace in the animal world after Christ returns with the sons of God, which is also when the millennium starts.

Louise Medado      14 Jul 2011, 10:03

Cool!! I really am looking forward to seeing my deceased pets in heaven...(((:
makes me wonder though... what do pets do in heaven?and what do we do there(well except for praising God)? Oh, and is there a possibility to be kicked out from heaven? 'cuz if I go to heaven with my girlfriends and we do something that would displease God big time, would he kick us out of there and send us to hell?...xD
I love your site!!it's awesome!!^^

Doug Buckley      14 Jul 2011, 14:52

Thanks Louise. Heaven is just a temporary place. In the future the world will end and the souls in heaven will come to earth. After Judgment Day, there will be a new heavens and earth with animals. The question about getting kicked out of heaven is tough. My feeling is that we won't be perfect and it will be possible to sin, but all the souls in the world will love God and accept his authority.

Louise Medado      19 Jul 2011, 08:21

Oh. Thanks with the helpful answers! :)

la chito      10 Dec 2011, 21:16

Louise Medado
No we will not be kicked out of heaven. Once you have made a decision on earth to accept Jesus Christ salvation. You are forgiven for ever. On the Cross He has forgiven our past, present and future sins. ck out this website _when_christians_sin.htm

GP      22 Dec 2011, 22:24

When we leave the corporial state and are believers of the Word, we have to assume that we will be filled with the Holy Spirit and therefore will know all of God's laws and would not want to break them, more importantly we would not and could not as we will be of the same nature and mind of the Trinity. Praise GOD

GP      22 Dec 2011, 22:35

Please allow me to correct myself. We do not need to assume as GOD has told us through his word,JESUS, that we will be given a new heart and God's Spirit will be given to us.

Elden      23 Apr 2012, 00:18

(moved comment here)I cannot reconcile in my mind how animals can have souls. Webster's Dictionary of 1828 (the standard for biblical definitions for the English speaking people) defines the soul as: "The spiritual, rational and immortal substance in man, which distinguishes him from brutes; that part of man which enables him to think and reason, and which renders him a subject of moral government. The immortality of the soul is a fundamental article of the christian system. Such is the nature of the human soul that it must have a God, an object of supreme affection."
With rationality comes moral choice. Animals do instinctively what their heavenly Father designed them to do. Animals are always in obedience to their purpose. And frankly, their purpose is to be at the pleasure and disposal of man.
"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Gen 1:26 KJV"
In Acts, God desired Peter to kill and eat animals.
"On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
Act 10:9-15 KJV"
We know, of course, God was teaching Peter to respect all men, not just Jews, with this vision, but, God's consent to the disposal of animals is evident here.
To have an eternal soul is to have consiousness enough to have a moral choice, and to be evil or good. Animals have neither. Come, now, my friend, reason with me. The crowning glory of God's creation is man. All animals God spoke into existence. Man He personally crafted and breathed the breath of life into... "and man became a living soul."
I certainly hope animals are in that "new heavens and new earth" place that God has gone to prepare. But if they are, again, God will have placed them there for our pleasure. And, finally:
"Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? Ecc 3:21 KJV" I love my dogs. I love to hunt deer, but, there has never been a transcending of any animal to the Paradise of God. Respectfully, Elden

Josh      23 Apr 2012, 00:19

Ok, Elden, please go to this link and read the article in the link: n.htm

After reading the article in the link, I hope you can reconsider what I said ("animals have souls too").

Doug Buckley      23 Apr 2012, 00:31

Hey Josh, that is an excellent article about animals being in heaven. Its very true that it literally says that God opened the donkeys mouth so that she could talk to him.

Josh      23 Apr 2012, 02:13

Thank you Doug.

So, did you read where it said that "it was during the time of humanist enlightenment that the idea of animals having souls was even questioned."?

Doug Buckley      25 Apr 2012, 01:48

Yeah I see it in the "do animals have souls section". It seems that the usual "animals don't have souls" teaching is more modern than I would have thought.

Josh      25 Apr 2012, 15:04

Yep. There are other modern teachings that were taught the opposite in Early Christianity. Like, early Christianity did teach how gluttony is a sin, but now, there's not one sermon taught against gluttony. They now mostly teach how drinking is a sin, but not one sermon is taught against gluttony. But, according to the Bible, both gluttony and drunkenness are sins!

sandeepsingh      19 May 2012, 08:40

The god said in Bhagawat Geeta that i lives everywhere and everyone creature that is .soul is one and god is one as trees have
many branches but tree is one and god has many pose but god is
one and

Nathan Harker      12 Jun 2012, 07:42

is there any bibical eveidence that animals are judged for there deeds? or do they automatticaly go to heaven since right&wrong?

(srry bout my spelling mistakes and bad grammer)

Nathan Harker      12 Jun 2012, 07:44

i meant since they have no knowledge of right and wrong

Doug Buckley      14 Jun 2012, 02:57

Hi Nathan, that's a deep question, and alot to consider. The bottom line is that there isn't anything in the bible about animals being judged for their sins. It only describes man and angels as being accountable for their sins. Animals are not made in the image and likeness of God and so don't know good from evil the way that man does.

However this doesn't mean animals are pure and go to heaven. God instructs the Israelites many times to kill the animals of their enemies. Also many animals are described as being "unclean" and this can't all be explained as being physically unclean or unhealthy.

So IMO animals are not accountable for their sins, but not holy either, though some animals are spiritually "cleaner" than others. At the end, after Christ returns, the animals will be sanctified by Christ and a part of the new heavens and earth.

Brian Cressman      19 Jun 2012, 20:33

Very interesting and provocative website. The debate of whether peoples PETS go to heaven will undoubtedly continue until the Jesus returns in His glory (fullness). I believe Elden's commentary in April 2012 was brushed over too quickly. We all know the the scriptures...but what the scriptures do not state can also be a teaching point. (understand that ; For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
1 Corinthians 13:11-13 (NKJV)....My point? Where does Jesus, His prophets, or apostles, ask us to PRAY for our pets salvation??? It isnt there. Therefore, the more likely truth is, that our pets do not have immortal souls , do not go to heaven, but rather, GOD will create animals afresh for the New heaven and new earth..... Thank you for challenging me as I do my adult bible class each week. We are , IN THE SERVICE OF THE ONE TRUE GOD.

Brian      06 Jul 2012, 11:23

I was thinking and I'm not like most guys .I hope animals exctint and living are in heaven :) ooh I love cupcakes !

Cynthiane      09 Jul 2012, 03:49

I have been reading several commentaries from biblical scholars on the words of Solomon where he ponders about the souls of man going to heaven and the spirits of animals going downward. Those scholars all stated that Solomon is saying that is the path of man and beast after death but I don't read it that way at all. I think Solomon is asking a question and considering the possibilities of spiritual life after death, not stating fact (since no man can know the answer unless he has, himself, died). I know animals do not have a soul as men do but they do have a spirit and I believe that spirit does not just cease to be after death. The Bible does talk about horses in heaven, so why not my good and faithful pet? God loves us, so perhaps he will give us that lovely gift in the next life.
Oh, and about the person who commented on the "unclean" animals, I believe those unclean animals are only unclean because of the parasites that can infect them and in turn infect the human population. I don't think it has anything to do with the animals themselves, do you?
Thank you for your website, I have enjoyed reading it very much.

Doug Buckley      12 Jul 2012, 05:58

Hi Cynthiane, your points on Ecclesiastes 3.21 sound right to me. The verse is a question so Solomon isn't stating anything definitive about animals going to heaven or not. He does appear to be saying that animals have spirits that continue on after they die.

As far as the clean and unlcean animals, your point about parasites is something to consider. The question is really whether the animals are physically unlcean or spiritually unclean or maybe both. It would seem that if this was purely about health then it wouldn't be OK for Christians to eat these unclean animals. In Acts God compares these unclean animals to gentiles, who were considered spiritually unclean. Also some clean animals like fish can have parasites as well.

My thinking is the unclean animals are mostly unclean spiritually. However this wouldn't make the animal evil or worthy of punishment. Animals aren't accountable the way people are. The only beings the bible says will receive judgment are men and angels. Thanks and good to hear from you.

Rob      17 Jul 2012, 11:44

Mark 16:15
And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every CREATURE
Why does Jesus tell us to preach to every creature if they cant understand the gospel?
Does this mean they go to hell?

Doug Buckley      17 Jul 2012, 13:26

Hi Rob, Mark 16.15 is one of many strangely worded bible verses that leave people scratching their heads. Mark 16.15 says literally to preach to every "created thing" which makes no sense if its taken literally. Obviously animals and insects can't receive the gospel.

Many commentators believe that by creatures Jesus means gentiles, and they cite examples where Jewish writers use similar words to refer to gentiles. I think Jesus is saying in Mark 16.15 to preach to everyone everywhere, rich and poor, Jew and gentile, and he says it in this exaggerated way to get his point across. This is because the idea that gentiles could be part of Messiah's Kingdom was such a new and radical idea.

Tongue in Cheek      01 Sep 2012, 16:13

Actually, according to the literal words in Revelation 22:15 there is one animal type that will not be in heaven. Contrary to the title of the movie, "All Dogs <b>do not</b> Go to Heaven".

Brian G.      01 Sep 2012, 16:27

Perhaps Mark 16:15 includes the idea that we preach by what we do, in which case we certainly can preach to all creation. And perhaps it also means to preach wantonly, extravagantly, so that by preaching in every forgotten corner of the world, not just people, but also principalities and powers will hear the declaration of God's grace to mankind.

Nancy      28 Dec 2012, 12:57

I myself believe when the earth and every living thing in it was first created That the animals and people were to live forever. In the first chapter of Genesis while Jehovah was creating things he ended it with "And GOD saw that it was good". It wasn't until Adam and Eve sinned that everything started to die. I don't think they knew what death was until after they sinned and started to see the animals die along with the vegatation. Thats when they understood what death was.

AMH      13 Jan 2013, 20:33

This is a wonderful site. I am glad you approve of Pastor Arnold Murray. It is nice to find a website full of positive people as God would have us to be. Just think, when we die we return to the Father. I want to hear Him sing as well. He created all living things - "He" said "It was good." So if He created all things and they were good I'm sure there will be plenty of room in heaven for all of them and us. I'm not rushing it but I am anxious to get there...I have had many pets as well and for family, friends and the animals my heart swells to think God will keep them busy until I return.

Doug Buckley      14 Jan 2013, 18:48

Thanks AMH, good to hear from you.

Aaron      29 Jan 2013, 20:17

Thank you for this, the romans 8 part was very interesting.

Tina      31 Jan 2013, 01:09

This is very interesting. I have been wondering about this for so long. My pet dog died today and he is a very big part of my family :( I would love to see him again in Heaven. That would be just great!! Thank you for discussing this topic!

Doug Buckley      31 Jan 2013, 15:50

Thnks Tina and Aaron, good to hear from you both.

Tim      29 Mar 2013, 14:21

Not going to quote scripture, just a personal opinion. We know that when the fallen ones came and took women and created the nephelim/giants, they also changed/made corupted animals. Could this be the unclean ones spoken of in old testement? After the cleansing blood of Jesus was given to the mankind and the earth, could that have been for the unclean animals as well. God bless Doug great site.

Doug Buckley      30 Mar 2013, 16:48

Hi Tim, there was certainly some strange things going on before the flood, but we know that the law about unclean animals was written down long after the flood. Its pretty clear about which animals are clean or unclean. Things like pigs and rats and lobsters are all unclean. What makes an animal unclean is a harder question, and it has alot to do with the habits of an animal and what it eats and whether it carries diseases. It probably has some spiritual significance but doesn't mean that the animal is evil. Dogs and cats are unclean under the law.

Michael Coyle      22 Apr 2013, 15:45

Very interesting and very encouraging

Ralf      15 Jan 2014, 09:56

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care. Matthew 10:29

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Luke 12:6

Any more arguments?

Wayne      24 Mar 2014, 17:23

an excellent article

of course animals have souls - all living things to do - anyone who doubts this is in a sad state of affairs and never had a loving relationship with one.

I think the real issue is the pride of those who will not admit such those people who think that only they are special and they have revealed knowledge. The sin of pride is terrible and blinds one to the message.
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