Do animals have souls like human beings?

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By BibleAsk Team


Do Animals Have Souls?

Animals are considered souls according to the Bible. “… and every living soul died in the sea” (Revelation 16:3). The Scriptures tell us that like humans, animals receive the breath of God or “spirit” to come alive and then they become souls. Solomon the wisest man states that both man and animals receive the same breath. And he equates the word “breath” of God with the word “spirit”:

“For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity.  All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust. Who[a] knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth?” (Ecclesiastes 3:19-21).

The phrase “Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward?” simply means that human wisdom cannot affirm what happens to the “spirit,” or “breath” of God except that it “shall return unto God” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

The word “spirit” (Hebrew ruach), or “breath,” means the life principle which does not belong to the physical realm, the realm of flesh, for it is of breath of God and returns to Him and nothing more (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Man and animal both have a ruach, and the ruach of man is the same as that of the beast.

If, as some claim that the ruach, or “spirit,” of man becomes a disembodied conscious entity at death, the ruach of beasts must also do that. But since the Bible nowhere teaches that at death a disembodied, conscious “spirit” continues to live on, then we can’t claim this for animals.

Death, is the lot of people and animals. David says that “man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish” (Psalms 49:12). When the breath of life departs from the body of any living creature, it dies (Ecclesiastes 3: 21). However, humans are different than animals in their capacity to think and choose and in their rewards and punishments they receive. For through faith in God, humans will be redeemed from the power of the grave (1 Corinthians 15:51–58) and will have eternal life (John 1:16).

For more on the state of the dead, check the following link:

For this reason Solomon disbelievingly (v. 21) asks who knows or who can prove—that the ruach of man ascends, while that of the beast descends. Solomon knows nothing of such an experience and doubts that anyone else does. And if someone knows then let him prove it.

Thus , we can see that there is distinct difference between the use of ruach to denote the literal breath (Job 9:18; 19:17) and its figurative use denoting the life principle (Gen. 6:17; 7:22), as here. The figurative use of ruach to mean “life” is similar to the figurative use of “blood” (Gen. 4:10; 9:4).

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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