The word from which aphesis (FROM-LETTING) is derived is aphiemi (FROM-LET). Like aphiemi, the word aphesis conveys the idea of a person’s sins or offenses being “sent away” from them, and of God’s no longer reckoning their sins and offenses to them. Thus, for people’s sins/offenses to be “pardoned” or “forgiven” by God can simply be understood to mean that God is not reckoning their sins/offenses to them. He is, in other words, relating to them as if they’d never committed them.
In support of this understanding of what it means to be “pardoned,” consider David’s words in Psalm 32:1-2: “Happy he whose transgression is lifted away, whose sin is covered over! Happy the human to whom Yahweh is not reckoning depravity, in whose spirit there is no deceit!” When, in Romans 4:7-8, Paul quotes these verses from Psalm 32, he follows the Septuagint (LXX) and translates the Hebrew nâśâ' nâsâh (“lifted away”) with the word aphesis. It’s evident, then, that these verses refer to David’s happiness following the pardoning, or forgiveness, of his transgressions by God. What, exactly, this pardoned status involved is clear from the ideas that David linked together. It involved (1) a person’s transgressions being “lifted away” or “pardoned”; (2) their sin being “covered over”; and (3) Yahweh’s not reckoning depravity to a person.