What impact will the Rapture have on pets?

Steve Johnson
7 min readNov 11, 2020

A friend recently asked about what will happen to believers’ animals after the Rapture. That brought to memory a video from a while back by Drs. Jack and Rexella Van Impe called Animals in Heaven. The video reassures believers that we will see our pets again in Heaven and provide biblical reasons and commentary from long-respected theologians on the topic. As someone with three cats and who has loved animals in the past that have already died, this subject is important to me as well.

Proverbs 12:10 says the righteous care for the needs of their animals. When talking about not worrying, Jesus uses animals as a point of comparison in Matthew 10:29 when he says the price of two sparrows is a penny, but not one of them falls to the ground outside of Yahweh’s care. Jesus also acknowledged in Matthew 12:11 that even on the Sabbath, a person would take hold of their sheep and lift it if it fell into a pit. That verse ties back to Deuteronomy 22:4, which commanded Israelites not to ignore the lost ox or donkey of a fellow Israelite on the road. Instead, they were to help the owner get it to its feet. We see in Genesis 1:20–26 that Yahweh made animals before people. In Genesis 2:19, Yahweh brought the animals to Adam to name them. God cares enough about animals that he made provision on the ark to preserve some of them. In Genesis 7:2–3, Yahweh commanded Noah to take with him seven pairs of every kind of clean animal and one pair of every kind of unclean animal. King David wrote in Psalm 148:7 of the sea dragons praising Yahweh. Speaking about the Millennial Reign of Christ on Earth after the Tribulation, Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 11:6–9 the wolf would live with the lamb. The leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf, lion, and yearling will be together, being led by a little child, and the cow will feed with the bear, their young lying down together with the lion eating straw like an ox. An infant will play near a cobra’s den, and a young child will put its hand in a viper’s nest without any harm or destruction.

The Bible even demonstrates animals’ feelings. Remember Jesus’ account of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19–31? Jesus tells the story of a rich man dressed in purple and fine linen and living in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The dogs had more compassion for Lazarus than the rich man did.

People are smarter than animals (well, some of us). Nevertheless, Job told his “friends” in Job 12:7–10 during his time of suffering to ask the animals, and they would teach his friends. He said the birds would tell them because they instinctively know that their lives are in Yahweh’s hands. That must be why Psalm 150:6 says everything that has breath praises Yahweh. Psalm 148:10 says all wild animals, cattle, small creatures, and flying birds praise Yahweh.

It is not just people that will experience the benefits of resurrection and redemption. Romans 8:21–23 promises that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in childbirth's pains right up to the present time. Not only so, but we, who have the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit, inwardly groan as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. In Dr. John Calvin’s (1509–1564) commentary on Romans 8:21–23, he said creatures are not content in their present state, and yet they are not so distressed that they pine away in their current form without the prospect of a remedy, restoration to a better state that awaits them. Dr. E.D. Buckner wrote a book called The Immortality of Animals in 1903. Buckner wrote that Paul gives us to understand that this suffering of animals shall not be hopeless, but that they shall be delivered together with people from the bondage of corruption. Bucker based his conclusion on this same passage. Dr. William Reed Newell (1868–1956) said we should be tender and patient toward animals, for they are dying until our bodies and theirs are redeemed.

Isaiah 40:5 says Yahweh will reveal his glory, majesty, and splendor, and all flesh shall see it together for Yahweh’s mouth has spoken it. In a passage about the resurrection body, 1 Corinthians 15:39 says that animals have a kind of flesh. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that they will be part of it. In talking about 1 Corinthians 15:51–54, Dr. William Leroy Pettingill (1866–1950) said animals generally are now suffering in the bondage of corruption, but in that day [the resurrection], their deliverance will come. Dr. Charles John Ellicott (1819–1905) said the creature, or rather the creation, the whole world of nature, wait with concentrated longing and expectancy and groans and travails to the prospect of joyful deliverance. We could safely conclude from this that our pets may very well be coming with us in the Rapture. Philippians 3:20–21 reminds us that our citizenship is in Heaven. We eagerly await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies that they will be like his glorious body.

Animals play a big part in praising the Lord in Heaven. In Revelation 4:6–8, John saw four living creatures around the throne of God. Eyes covered their front and back. The first living creature was like a lion. The second was like an ox; the third had a face like a man; the fourth was like an eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings, and eyes covered them all around, even under their wings. Day and night, they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Those living creatures do not look like anything we have seen here, but John describes them with animal characteristics. J. Vernon McGee (1904–1988) said every animate or (live creature of God) joins in the universal act of worship both in Heaven and Earth. Earth’s animals and the sea’s fish participate in this volume of praise with the living creatures (or animals) in Heaven who also add their “amen” to it. Dr. John Walvoord (1910–2002), President of Dallas Theological Seminary from 1952–1986, said the creation waits in eager expectation for God to reveal his children at Christ’s return. Then all of nature, including animal life, eagerly waits for that time when creation itself — all of it, including animals — will be liberated from bondage and decay. W.A. Criswell (1909–2002), President of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1968–1970, said God had shown a penchant or fondness toward varieties of life forms. It would be difficult to imagine that God would not perpetuate this in Heaven. Dr. Peter Kreeft (1937-present) says concerning the question of animals in Heaven, the most straightforward answer is, why not? How irrational is the prejudice that would allow plants, green fields, and flowers, but not animals in Heaven? We find plant life in the New Jerusalem in Revelation 22:2. The Tree of Life (not the one at Disney’s Animal Kingdom) will bear 12 types of fruit, different types each month, and the tree’s leaves for the nations' healing.

When asked if animals went to Heaven, Billy Graham responded that God wants his people happy. If having their animals in Heaven would make them happy, he supposed that was reason to believe they would be there. Luke 3:6 references Isaiah 40:3–5 when it promises that all flesh will see God’s salvation. Animals are part of all flesh, as was mentioned earlier in 1 Corinthians 15:39. There always have been animals in Heaven. In 2 Kings 2:11, Elijah was walking along and talking. A fiery chariot with horses appeared, and a whirlwind took Elijah up to Heaven. We see horses again at the Glorious Appearing of Christ at the end of the Tribulation. Revelation 19:14–16 talks about the armies in Heaven (previously-Raptured believers) following Jesus riding on white horses dressed in fine white and clean linen. Revelation 19:11 points out that Jesus will also be riding a white horse when we follow behind him on our white horses. Revelation pictures animals before that in Revelation 5:11–14. It says living creatures will encircle God’s throne with the angels and elders saying, “Worthy is the Lamb [Jesus], who was slain, to receive power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and praise!” Then John heard every creature in Heaven, on earth, 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, honor, glory, and power forever and ever!” The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell and worshiped. Living creatures are also in Heaven, saying, “Come!” when Jesus opens the seals to release the first set of judgments (Revelation 6:1–7).

All of this information points to there being animals in Heaven. If animals are in Heaven already, and if the whole creation groans waiting for the revealing of God’s children at the Rapture, then we can take comfort that our beloved pets will not be left behind to suffer without us. They, too, could be able to experience the glories awaiting all of who have put their trust in Christ. While it may not be possible to be 100% dogmatic about the concept of raptured animals, we can be more so about animals in Heaven. Whether or not that includes our pets, I say — along with Dr. Peter Kreeft mentioned above, “Why not?!”



Steve Johnson

My interests are Jesus Christ and all things Christianity, news and politics, current events, conservatism, sports, and entertainment. And I love to write!