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Will Animals Be in Heaven?

This is a broad question that is easier to answer than you might think. The Bible talks about a “new heaven” and a “new earth” (Revelation 21:1). Heaven is not just a place “out there,” but also a place “down here.” Heaven will not only be a spectacular Holy City, but also an incredible “earthly” place of astounding variety and beauty.

The book of Genesis tells us God created the heavens and the earth with an extravagance of flora and fauna (plants and animals) necessary for our survival and enjoyment. The prophet Isaiah declares, “the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3). Even after the fall, God’s glory is evident, though clouded somewhat by sin. But in heaven God’s glory will once again be on full display in everything he created (Habakkuk 2:14), including animals.

Even now, animals have a special place in God’s creation. As soon as he created people in his own image, (Genesis 1:27), he gave them instructions to wisely manage “the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky” and “every living creature that moves on the ground” (Genesis 1:28). We humans don’t own the animals; they belong to God (Psalm 50:10-11).

Animals were present when God created the first Adam. Animals were present when Jesus, the second Adam, was born. And animals will be present when Jesus, the Lamb of God, is worshipped in heaven (Revelation 5:13).

So yes, there will be animals in heaven. But will your animal be in heaven? Your pets—the dogs and cats and horses and whatever kind of animals you cared for like they were part of the family—will they be in heaven?

This is a tougher question to answer. Honestly, we’re a little divided on this question. Because Bruce’s experience with pets has not been all that positive—his kids once had a dog he affectionately referred to as Satan—he doesn’t want his stinky pets to greet him when he gets to heaven. On the other hand, Stan is fond of all the dogs his family has cared for over the years. He would be happy to discover heavenly versions of Trevor, Zoey, and Sammy.

Of course, we can’t answer the question of pets in heaven based on our personal preferences. We have to dig a little deeper into Scripture to see if there’s any evidence. Unfortunately there isn’t much to go on. The Bible does tell us that God preserves “both people and animals” (Psalm 36:6), but we shouldn’t interpret this to mean he preserves them in the same way.

People who have trusted Jesus in this life will be resurrected in the next with new bodies. There’s no evidence that animals, including your beloved pets, will be resurrected. It’s more likely God will re-create animals who have lived in our present world, or he could create some brand new animals. We simply don’t know how God will do it. We just know it will beyond our ability to imagine, and it will be better than we expect. As Scot McKnight writes,

In the final Heaven we will see everything that exists in the world, only it will be much better and getting better all the time.[1]

[1] Scot McKnight, The Heaven Promise, 186.

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Christianity 101 is a collection of books and digital resources by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz that talk about God in a way that encourages people to grow in their faith.