Genesis 1:24, 25: “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.  And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”

Animals, specifically pets, are near and dear to many.  They provide companionship, affection and often protection.  Frequently pets are closer to their owners emotionally than many friends and even family members.  Given this relationship, many wonder if their pet will be in Heaven? What is the relationship of animal to man?  To determine the Biblical answer, we look to:

  • Historical Context:  The author of the Book of Genesis is not identified. Traditionally, the author has always assumed to have been Moses. There is no conclusive reason to deny the Mosaic authorship, especially given that the date of authorship is likely between 1440 and 1400 B.C., between the time Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and his death.  The Book of Genesis has sometimes been called the “seed-plot” of the entire Bible. Most of the major doctrines in the Bible are introduced in “seed” form in the Book of Genesis. Along with the fall of man, God’s promise of salvation or redemption is recorded (Genesis 3:15). The doctrines of creation, imputation of sin, justification, atonement, depravity, wrath, grace, sovereignty, responsibility, and many more are all addressed in this book of origins called Genesis.

    Many of the great questions of life are answered in Genesis. (1) Where did I come from? (God created us – Genesis 1:1) (2) Why am I here? (we are here to have a relationship with God – Genesis 15:6) (3) Where am I going? (we have a destination after death – Genesis 25:8). Genesis appeals to the scientist, the historian, the theologian, the housewife, the farmer, the traveler, and the man or woman of God. It is a fitting beginning for God’s plan for mankind, the Bible.
  • Grammatical Usage:  “Kind” in the Hebrew is “min” and has two possible meanings: 1) “to think out” or “to invent’; 2) “to split” with the idea of dividing.  The word occurs in 31 passages – 30 attributed to Moses, the other Ezekiel 47:10.  “Good” in the Hebrew is “tob” and is attributed one of 5 meanings (sometimes compound meanings) depending upon the context of the passage: 1) practical, economic, or material good; 2) abstract goodness such as desirability, pleasantness, and beauty; 3) quality or expense; 4) moral goodness; 5) technical or philosophical good.  In this case, # 2 is appropriate in both cases.
  • Literal Application: And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds (naturally dividing): livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so.  God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was beautiful.
  • Contextual Interpretation: Key to our passage is what we are not told: created “in the image of God.”
    Scriptural Comparison: The Bible does not give any specific teaching on whether pets / animals have “souls” or whether pets / animals will be in Heaven – and this is a significant omission. Therefore, we take some general Scriptural principles and shed light on the subject. The Bible states that both man (Genesis 2:7) and animals (Genesis 1:30; 6:17; 7:15,22) have the breath of life. The primary difference between human beings and animals is that man is made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Animals are not made in the image and likeness of God. Being made in the image and likeness of God means that human beings are like God, capable of spirituality, with mind, emotion, and will – and – have an aspect of being that continues after death. If pets / animals do have a “soul” or immaterial aspect, it must therefore be of a different and lesser “quality.” This difference probably means that pet / animal “souls” do not carry on after death.

    Another factor to consider in this question is that God did create animals as a part of His creative process in Genesis. God created the animals and said they were good (Genesis 1:25). Therefore, there is no reason why there could not be animals on the new earth (Revelation 21:1). There will most definitely be animals during the millennial kingdom (Isaiah 11:6; 65:25). It is impossible to say definitively whether some of these animals might be pets we had while here on earth. We do know that God is just and that when we get to Heaven we will find ourselves in complete agreement with His decision on this issue, whatever it may be.

The Word of God does not mention the treatment of animals to a great extent. However, from the creation account we get both what the Bible says about animals and how we must treat them. In Genesis 1 we find the creation of all things. It is here that we see God establishing the relationship between man and animal. In verse 28 God gives to man authority over all that was created on earth. Man is to take care of and use the earth. Man is to have the authority over all that was created. This means that man is to assume the control and protection of all that God had created. We must be careful in this role. Many are for protecting every animal no matter the cost both to mankind and to the animals.

However, it is important to notice what God does after the sin of man. Genesis 3 gives to us the details of the first sin man commits. In verse 21 God prepares for mankind a covering out of skin, for the first time an animal dies. The implications from this flow throughout the Word of God; because of man’s sin, death has entered the world. For our discussion on animals it is important to understand that the animals are to be used by men for our needs.

In Genesis 9 there is a change between man and animal. Up to this point, animals were not used as food. However, God now includes certain animals in the diet of mankind. God also puts fear of man into the animals. Again animals are used to fill the needs of men; yet, God continues His command in verse two to watch over these animals.

Animal cruelty should not take place if men truly understand the command to be “caretakers” of the earth. We are to control the numbers of animals so disease and sickness do not kill them off (hunting is therefore sanctioned); we are to use the animals for our needs; we are to control animals in a manner in which they are not harmful to humans; and finally we should protect them from over-killing and abuse. The problem lies in the fact that many do not understand this balance and tend to over-protect or under-protect animals. Animals were created for us to enjoy, so protecting a remnant for others to enjoy is also proper. Proverbs 12:10 tells us, “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.”

  • Conclusion: All of creation is to be nurtured and cherished by man for all of the five reasons for which God would attribute “good”.  While animals are esteemed in Scripture, God Himself using such images in addressing His own attributes, they are but reflections of God’s ingenuity and lack God’s image.   Therefore, while they may be pets they are not, in fact, brothers or sisters with souls which is the defining attribute of man.