You've chosen a pretty controversial topic, and, as with many other
controversial topics, you will find biblical references being used to
support opposing viewpoints. The "yes" view frequently picks up on a
linguistic analysis of the Hebrew words "nephesh" and "ruach", which
are mostly translated as "soul" and "spirit", respectively. Since
"nepheseh" is also used in relation to animals, the argument is that
animals do have souls.
Here is a selection of views on the question: Do animals go to heaven:
A very long and detailed article on the Rainbow Bridge web site looks
at how the Hebrew words ruach and nephesh are used, and how they
are translated into English. The explanations are very long, with
numerous examples, so I cannot reproduce them here. The author
We have looked at the meaning of the Hebrew words in the Old
Testament, regarding the word "nephesh" which is most often translated
as "soul", and have discovered that the same word is used for both
animals and humans, with no distinction. My personal conclusion is
that animals do have a soul, and that this is supported Biblically. We
have also examined the meaning of the Hebrew words in the Old
Testament, regarding the word "ruach" which is most frequently
translated as "spirit". Here, we find the connection is very weak,
with the word "ruach" used only once in application to a non-human
Biblical references to "salvation", as the means by which beings may
enter heaven, also do not refer to the spirit. The phrase that is
repeated over and over in the Bible is that of "save (ing) my soul".
http://www.angelfire.com/oh/turkishangora/gate/ruach.html (The URL is
to part 1, with separate links for parts 2, 3 and 4 of the article).
First, we have to look at the creation stories, since that's where we
find the accounts of animals being created. Then we have to decide
what Hebrew word means "soul." A quick look in the Hebrew dictionary
tells us the word nephesh chaya is the word phrase most often
translated "soul." Indeed, in the King James Version we read in
Genesis 2.7 that the human was created "a living soul"literally,
. "So God created the great sea monsters and every nephesh chaya
that moves, of every kind" (Genesis 1.21). Apparently fish and birds
.. "And God said, 'Let the earth bring forth nephesh chaya of every
kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of
every kind.' And it was so" (Genesis 1.24). And apparently so do the
rest of the animals.
.. The Bible isn't big on telling us what heaven's like. The word
picture in Revelation 21 often used to describe heaven actually
describes the new earth and the new Jerusalem. The only thing we know
for sure about heaven is that there is one, it's where God is, and
it's a promised future for the saintsoh, and there are animals there.
. Horses are regularly pictured as being a part of heaven (2 Kings
2.11; Revelation 6). And there is the list of creatures who are like
oxen, lions, and eagles seen by John in heaven gathered around the
throne of Godapparently God likes animals too. (Rev. 4.7). These
animals are shown as a part of heaven's realm, so it seems likely,
since they have souls, that heaven is also the eternal home for those
animals that have been an important part of creation from the
This comes from the childrens questions section of the web site of
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There will be animals in the millennium, with the carnivores made
pacific (see Isaiah 11:6-9), such as lions eating straw like oxen. But
they will be on earth, not in heaven. Heaven is a realm for spirit
beings only, not fleshly ones that have no "spirit in man" (cf. I Cor.
2:11) that will preserve their forms of consciousness. Men will live
with them on earth, but not in the eternal state after the new heaven
and new earth are made (which is the most mysterious aspect of the
Bible's revelation, I think).
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The Bible has much to say about being kind to animals. One of my
favorite verses is,
- A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast, But the
compassion of the wicked is cruel. (NASB) Proverbs 12:10 - This meant
much to me while my dog, Prince, was alive. He died about five years
ago, but I will probably not see him in heaven. Animals do not go to
heaven as far as we know, nor do they go to hell. Scripture only says
men and women have spirits (1 Corinthians 15:45-46), and it is men and
women who go to heaven (John 3:16) or hell (John 3:17-18). If animals
do not have spirits, they cease to exist when they die. But scripture
has made it clear that men and women will live eternally either in
heaven or in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14-15).
Web site of Like the Master Ministries
Animals, sad to say, do not go to heaven. Why not? Because, animals
lack a rational soul.
. It is this rational soul, a pure gift from God the Almighty, which
grants us free will, that is, the capacity to choose for ourselves.
This capacity to choose, at its most radical, is the capacity to
choose God and to choose life with Him forever. This choice is made at
baptism which, as Christ himself says, is absolutely necessary for
salvation (Jn 3.5: "Amen, Amen I say to you, no one can enter the
kingdom of God without being born of water and the Holy Spirit".)
they do not go to heaven. This is why Job says "the souls of men
return to heaven, while the souls of animals go into the ground".
Rev. Kevin Quirk,
Judicial Vicar, Tribunal Office
Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston
Since animals do not have immortal souls, we might think the
answer is no. Several facts, however, make one hesitant to be
satisfied with a simple "no." Our eternal home is a new earth (Isaiah
65:17ff, 2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1). Isaiah 65:25 speaks of it as
a place in which the wolf and the lamb live together peacefully.
. one other passage suggests animals might be in our eternal home.
Romans 8:21 says that "the creation itself will be liberated from its
.. At Christ's coming, when this world is freed from the effects of
sin, animals, too, will be freed from suffering. That text also
says the creation will be "brought into the glorious freedom of the
children of God." That might mean there may be plants and animals in
the new earth as there were in the first earth.
In short, the answer is a cautious "maybe."
Rev. John Brug in the Q&A" column of the January 1995 issue of the
"Northwestern Lutheran" (the official periodical of the Wisconsin
Evangelical Lutheran Synod)
WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE THINK
The BeliefNet web site has a poll on the question of whether animals
go to heaven. The current status (20th August, 2003) is that 86%
voters believe animals do go to heaven because they are Gods
creatures, and 14% believe they do not because they do not have souls
like humans do. You can access the results, and vote yourself if you
wish, through a link on the hand side of this page
Search strategy do animals go to heaven