Do animals have souls?

To see Jesus is to know that God knows how much our pets mean to us, and he is not indifferent to our hearts.

Animals do have souls.

The Old Testament uses the same word in the creation account of Genesis for humans and animals in regards to “soul.” That Hebrew word is nephesh. So, it is proper and correct to state that animals have souls. Ecclesiastes 3:18-21 teaches that animals and humans both are made from the dust and to dust they shall return.

However, all Jews and Christians agree that the soul of animals is an animus—the soul gives life to the body; dead animals bodies no longer possess a soul. But animal souls are not the same kind of soul as human ones. The soul of humans is fashioned in the Image and Likeness of God, and therefore is special, unique and more important.  

Since many of the details to the questions you are asking are found in the articles we have online, I would point you there (they can be found on our website) and a more thorough explanation can be found there. I don’t want to repeat all that information here.

However, by way of summary I will say that the question of whether animals can go to heaven or not is something we cannot know, since the Bible does not say. However, because God is kind and loving, full of grace and mercy, we have reasons to hope that God will do this. Since we can expect God to be loving and kind—kinder than we can imagine, we have solid grounds for hoping to see our loved ones again. And, while it is true that we cannot know for certain the fate of our pets, Scripture gives some indication that the hope we have for them is not purely emotional. For example, take a look at these verses:

Isaiah 11:6-9: The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

Revelation 5:13: “’Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’”

Romans 8:19-12: “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”

 I hope these verses help indicate the kind of love God has for his creation, which of course includes our pets. While we “see through a glass darkly” now, as St. Paul writes, one day we will see face to face. Until then, we have the eyes of faith, and my encouragement to you is to bury yourself most deeply in the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because the God we encounter in the Gospel of Jesus is the very God who gives us hope to trust the good of our pets, and our hope of reunion with them to Him. Our faith gives us eyes to see Jesus so that, what we cannot see, is not threatening or fearful. For to see Jesus is to know that God will never do anything unjust or unloving. To see Jesus is to know that God knows how much our pets mean to us, and he is not indifferent to our hearts.

Written by 1517 Scholar, Bruce Hillman