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Do Animals go to Heaven?

Can animals go to heaven? There is a lot of discussion about people going to heaven, but what happens to animals when they die? What does the bible tell us about where animals go for the afterlife?



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 clearly 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 obsess over the the spiritual afterlife of animals. We have to leave certain questions about the spiritual nature of animals in God's hands.

We do know that God loves animals, and they have value in his eyes, "Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? (Luke 12.6 KJV bible), "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel" (Proverbs 12.10 KJV bible).

Can animals go to heaven?

To understand whether or not animals go to heaven, we need to consider whether it's even possible that they can go to heaven. We know that heaven is a spiritual place, and not accessible in flesh bodies. 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. By our nature we live 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. Flesh man has no place above the beasts of the earth, because all are born, strive, and inevitably return to the dust, "All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again" (Ecclesiastes 3.20 KJV bible).

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 he does indicate that animals have 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 different interpretations of Romans 8.18-23, and a lot can be said about it. First we need to consider what Paul means here by the "creation" (Greek: krisis). What's clear is that in referring to the creation or created thing, Paul isn't talking about the children of God. This is because he says the revealing of the children of God brings liberty to the creation.

Neither can the creation refer to nonbelievers, as they will certainly not be "liberated" by 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).

While we don't know exactly what part of the natural world is meant by creation, clearly the passage is not referring to mankind, but some other part or parts of the natural world. Paul is most likely referring to plant and animal life because he says 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 death.

So Romans 8.18-23 is most likely referring to the collective desire of living creatures to be set free from the state of bondage and corruption to which they're subject. It tells us that on some level living creatures desire to be set free from their fleshly state of futility and corruption, "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand forever" (Isaiah 40.8 KJV bible).

The passage connects back with Ecclesiastes, and Solomon's description of the futility of the flesh. Similar to Ecclesiastes, Paul speaks of the vanity that the creation has been subjected to, namely the transient nature of the flesh. He also goes beyond Ecclesiastes in that he describes a future liberation from this state.

Now if we assume that animal life is only a fleshly creation, and can't exist beyond this world, then how is it possible to desire the revelation of the sons of God? Why would animals desire the Day of the Lord, when Christ will reign with the children of God?

How can living creatures receive any kind of liberty if they only exist on the level of flesh and blood, "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. Whether this means all or certain parts we don't know, but God certainly has a plan for his living creation.

All things considered we know very little about the spiritual nature and afterlife of animals. There are no biblical refererences to animals going to heaven. However, the bible does indicate that animals 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.

Comments: (9)
Topic: Animals going to Heaven
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Brian Cressman
Very interesting and provocative website. The debate of whether animals go to heaven will undoubtedly continue until the Jesus returns in His glory (fullness). We all know 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 isn't there. Therefore, the more likely truth is, that our animals don't have immortal souls, do not go to heaven, but rather, Gods 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.
19th June 2012 8:36pm
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Rob
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 can't understand the gospel? Does this mean animals are unsaved?
17th July 2012 11:47am
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Doug Buckley
Hi Rob, Mark 16.15 is one of those 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. So it doesn't tell us anything about if animals go to heaven.
17th July 2012 1:50pm
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Brian G.
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.
1st September 2012 4:04pm
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AMH
The Father created all living things. "He" said "It was good." So if He created all animals 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.
It's nice to find a website full of positive people as God would have us to be.
13th January 2013 8:16pm
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Tina
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!
31st January 2013 1:20am
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Tim
Not going to quote scripture, just a personal opinion. We know that when the fallen ones came and took women and created the nephilim/giants, they also changed/corrupted animals.
Could this be the unclean animals spoken of in Old Testament. After the cleansing blood of Jesus was given to mankind and the earth, could that have been for the unclean animals as well. God bless Doug, great site.
29th March 2013 1:24pm
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Doug Buckley
Hi Tim, thanks. There certainly were some strange things going on before the flood, but I don't think that's the origin of unclean animals. God probably would've destroyed the unclean animals if they weren't supposed to be that way.
A lot of people think that the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis created unclean animals. I think God would've had to have been involved in the design of unclean animals in some way.
30th March 2013 4:15pm
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Ralf
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?
15th January 2014 9:17am
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